Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hadden Clark

Catch the Devil

Still nervous after burying Laura Houghteling, Hadden Clark drove north towards New England. In Rhode Island, he stopped and stuffed the bloody sheets, mattress pad, and the items he had stolen from Laura in a self-storage locker that he rented by the year. He kept the pillowcase. That way he could relive the night by burying his face into it. If he wanted a bigger thrill, he could take the bloody sheets out of storage and play with them. He drove back to Washington, feeling pretty proud of himself.

By now, the Montgomery County, Maryland cops wanted to speak with Hadden. Warren and Penny had both mentioned his name and when his description was phoned into headquarters, alarm bells went off. Wasn't he suspected in the disappearance of Michele Dorr? A still trusting Penny Houghteling pooh-poohed the accusation.

"Hadden wouldn't hurt anyone. He's just a gardener," she said.

The cops had other ideas. Mike Garvey's boss, Robert Phillips, was called and he remembered Garvey's account of Hadden vomiting in the bathroom and his alibi. When he was asked whether or not to bring him in, Phillips nearly exploded.

"Hadden Clark! Absolutely! Let's go! Let's get him! That son-of-a-bitch got away once!" he shouted into the phone. The cops called Hadden's voice-mail number and Hadden called back almost immediately. He was cool. No, he wouldn't come by the station right now, he said. He was going to bed in his truck. They would have to wait until tomorrow.

Hadden Clark's truck
Hadden Clark's truck

After the call, Hadden drove back to the same church parking lot near Penny and Laura's house. He went into his truck, found the bloody pillowcase, and ran into some woods that bordered the church. He threw the pillowcase near the base of a tree and went back to his truck, falling into a troubled sleep.

Bloody Pillowcase

When Hadden arrived the next day, he was escorted by Sue Snyder, head of a local homeless group. The cops were gentle, partly because they had nothing to arrest him for and partly because he was chaperoned. Hadden, of course, had an alibi for everything except the time Laura was killed. He was sleeping, he said, in his truck. When he left the station, he began crying and Sue Snyder asked him why.

"I feel so bad for Penny and Warren," he said.

When Laura failed to turn up, the local cops decided to do a complete search of the area. A dog from the canine unit led them into the woods near Penny's house that bordered the church. There, the dog turned up one of Penny's bras, a woman's blouse, a high-heeled shoe, and Laura's bloodied pillowcase. Taken to a lab, it was determined that the blood was the same type as Laura's. Then the police got lucky. There was a single fingerprint on the blood. The cops hauled Hadden in again.

"I'm just a homeless man," he blubbered when apprehended. "I don't have any friends. I'll be jobless after this."

During the interrogation, the cops bluffed.

"We found the pillow case in the woods," he was told. "It had a fingerprint on it. The print was yours."

While they had found a fingerprint, it had not yet been identified. They were hoping for a confession, a reaction. Hadden didn't completely crack, but he began whimpering and tears fell. He pulled the wool toboggan he was wearing down over his eyes.

"What did you do with Laura Houghteling?" a detective growled.

"I don't remember," he answered.

Despite this statement, the cops again let him go. They still had nothing to hold him on.

Over the next few days, using search warrants, the police examined Hadden's bank account and found a copy of the incriminating check their suspect had written to the hardware store. They also located his campsite, searched it, but didn't find Laura.

Hadden Clark's campsite in the woods
Hadden Clark's campsite in the
woods

 

Then the lab confirmed it was Hadden's fingerprint on the bloody pillowcase. The cops found Hadden late that night, sleeping in the back of his truck, his arms wrapped around a one-eyed teddy bear. Hadden Clark would never see freedom again.

 

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