Little Girl Lost
It seemed almost as hot as hell itself on the afternoon of May 31, 1986. But a blast of summer heat was what many people welcomed on a weekend as summer began. Not Hadden Clark. Hadden, 35, stood outside of his brother Geoffrey's empty home, sweating in the 92-degree heat. He was a wiry, six-feet-two inches tall who leaned against his Datsun pickup truck feeling sorry for himself and getting angrier by the minute as the temperature soared. The house was eerily quiet. Everyone who lived there was gone—out and having fun. Geoffrey Clark, the only brother he had who wasn't in prison, had deserted him.
Things were not going well for Hadden. He had been asked to vacate the room he rented at Geoff's house because he had masturbated in front of his young children. There were nephews and a niece. A few months before that, he had been arrested for shoplifting women's underwear at a local department store. Hadden didn't steal the bra and panties to give to a girlfriend. He stole them to wear himself.
"I like my ladies' clothing," he once told his mother. "Don't try and change me."
Less than a year before he had been bounced from the Navy. His discharge was a medical one—the doctors had diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. Hadden wasn't taking the medicine they prescribed for him either. He just didn't care.
Then, just a week ago, his six-year-old niece, Eliza, had called him a retard. He wanted to kill her for that remark. It wouldn't have been the first time he had murdered someone who "dissed" him.
Prelude to Murder
So Hadden stood there, seething in the hot sun, about to go into his brother's residence on Sudley Road in Silver Spring, Maryland to pick up the last box of his belongings. As he began to move towards the house, a little girl walked up to him. What was her name? He had seen her around the neighborhood several times.
Was it Kelly? Shelly? Michele? That was it, Michele. The tyke with the bangs and the freckles over the bridge of her nose was Eliza's weekend friend, the daughter of a divorced man down the street who had custody of her on weekends. Michele was wearing a pink ruffled swimsuit that was still wet from playing in a plastic backyard pool.
It was then that Hadden Clark knew how to get back at his niece for calling him a retard. Nobody who crossed him got away with stuff like that for long.
"She's in the house. Upstairs in her room playing with dolls. You can go inside if you like."
He watched Michele wander into the house and heard her steps as she walked up the stairs of his brother's silent home. When she was out of sight, he walked around to the back of his truck and pulled a toolbox towards him. Hadden made his living as a chef and inside the metal box were the tools of his trade—every kind of knife a commercial restaurant would ever need. There were deboning knives, carving knives, and fish filleting knives with serrated blades, meat cleavers, and more. Each had been honed to its maximum degree of sharpness. Hadden selected a 12-inch long chef's knife and casually strolled into the house and up the stairs of his brother's house.
Life hadn't treated Michele's father, Carl Dorr, well. His two college degrees—one in economics, the other in psychology—hadn't done much for him and by the mid-1980s he had settled into a series of jobs where he spray painted cars on commission. His personal life was worse. He had married Michele's mother, Dorothy, in 1978, but after their daughter was born, the marriage not only fell apart but evolved into a brutal battle. There were times when Carl would slap his wife around in front of Michele with the emotional toll falling on Michele. The stress made the little girl stutter and grind her teeth at night.
"She had seen too much for a six-year old," Dorothy would tell The Washington Post.
Once, on Valentine's Day of 1976, Carl had shown up at his estranged wife's house and refused to leave. He told her if there was a divorce hearing he would lie under oath, say she was an adulteress, an unfit mother, and if he lost he would kidnap Michele at the school bus stop. Then, according to Dorothy, he threw her against the wall and beat her, causing cuts and bruises.
Though both were setting up their daughter for an adulthood that would require weekly visits to a psychiatrist, each loved the little girl. Carl looked forward to the weekends with his daughter and that certainly was the case the last two days of May 1986 when he picked up Michele from her mother. They had dinner at McDonald's, he bought her a toy at the 7-11, rented her a kid's movie from a video store, and on that hot Saturday he filled the plastic swimming pool at noon, promising to take her to a big neighborhood pool at four that afternoon. She showed off for him for a few minutes and then Carl went into the house to watch the Indianapolis 500 auto race.
Carl's rented house was two doors down from Geoffrey Clark's home. And while he watched Rick Mears and Bobby Rahal average 171 miles per hour—a record— he forgot to check on his little girl outside. She soon grew bored playing alone and wandered down the street looking for Eliza Clark. Minutes later, Hadden Clark was tip-toeing up the stairs of the empty house after her, a knife in his hand that appeared to be as big as his intended victim. He followed her into Eliza's room.
Hadden threw the little girl to the floor and was on her so fast she didn't get a chance to scream. The first slash was a backhand, from left to right across her chest; the second went back the other way, almost like Zorro making the Z sign. She fell back in shock and he straddled her, putting his free hand over her mouth. She surprised him by biting his hand. That made him very angry and he plunged the twelve-inch knife straight through her throat.
Blood was spurting all over the wooden floor of the little bedroom. The room in the old house sloped and the blood sought the lowest level.
Hadden didn't know what to do first. Should he mop up the blood and cover up what he had done or try to have sex with the dead girl? He tried the sex part first but couldn't make it work.
Hadden raced downstairs to the kitchen and got some plastic trash bags. He ran out to his truck and got some rags and an old Navy duffel bag. He was back upstairs in seconds. Hadden stuffed Michele into a plastic bag and then inside the duffel bag. He fell to his knees, mopping up the blood as if he was swabbing the deck on one of the aircraft carriers he had served on. Everything that had blood on it was stuffed into the trash sacks.
His cleanup looked pretty good to his eyes. Nothing seemed out of place. Nobody would know what had just happened. Hadden threw the body and the bags into the back of his truck. He had to be at his chef's job at the nearby Chevy Chase country club in 20 minutes. Being late would be noticed.