A Year Later, Stabbing Death in Roland Park Remains a Mystery

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Molly Macauley

Roland Park resident Anne Stuzin sometimes takes a moonlit stroll through the neighborhood with her two dogs. But this time a year ago, she wouldn’t have wandered her upscale leafy neighborhood after dark.

Last July, the shocking news that 59-year-old renowned space economist Molly K. Macauley had been brutally stabbed to death in Roland Park jolted Stuzin and other residents of her North Baltimore neighborhood. The killing happened sometime between 9:30 p.m. and midnight, on July 8, 2016, while Macauley was walking her two large dogs in the 600 block of W. University Parkway, as she was known to do on a routine basis. That night, she walked them after returning from an Orioles game with her longtime partner, Lee Lasky.

Gradually, the highly publicized murder in the quiet neighborhood where a homicide hadn’t been recorded since 1998 started to recede from people’s minds. Stuzin began walking her dogs after dark again. Other Roland Park residents also resumed their routines. Talk among neighbors about getting private security fizzled, due to the prohibitive expense and, perhaps, waning interest. 

In the meantime, the Macauley murder case remains unsolved. Incidentally, no other violent crimes have been reported in the neighborhood since.

Asked about the status of the investigation by phone, a public information officer at the Baltimore Police Department said any questions must be emailed to the public information office of the BPD. Pressed on when Baltimore Fishbowl might expect a response, she retorted, “Well, considering the murder rate this week, it won’t be like five or ten minutes.”

Detective Jeremy Silbert, a spokesman for the department, responded, “This case remains open, and we have not made any arrests.”

Major Richard Gibson, the commanding officer of the BPD’s Northern District, said the search for the killer continues, although he hasn’t received any new information on the case. 

“A lot of people in the community were interviewed,” he said. He mentioned homeless adults and panhandlers as well as residents among those interviewed for information.

When asked if the case was likely to go unresolved because it had been open for so long, he responded: “I would say that’s not true whatsoever. A good Metro Crime Stopper tip” – a method by which callers can leave tips anonymously – “could come up. In various forms, it can come out.”

“It’s definitely not a cold case. The primary detective is still actively working on the case.”

The responses did not come as a surprise. Macauley’s murder is just one of over 300 in Baltimore City last year. Still, I had hoped for a little more. Undoubtedly, so too would those close to Macauley who, at the time of her death, served as the vice president for research at the Washington, D.C. think tank Resources for the Future. Though the case remains unsolved, a few theories continue to circulate.

One is that Macauley was murdered as she interrupted a robbery in progress. Comments made by her colleagues to news outlets following the murder suggested Macauley was indeed the type of person to attempt to right a wrong, rather than put her head down and keep walking.

“There was something in Molly that was very pure … She was driven by very good intentions,” said Macauley’s former workmate, Lea Harvey, in a story about Macauley on earthzine.org.

Another former co-worker, Lea Shanley, also quoted in the same piece, said about Macauley: “If there were things that needed to be changed or improved, she had no fear.”

If, on the night of her murder, Macauley did encounter someone attempting to break into a house as she was walking with her dogs, the observations about her character aligned well with her imagined response. On the other hand, they could be mere coincidence.

That’s probably what the conspiracy theorists would say. One such theorist is Joseph P. Farrell, who has a doctorate in patristics (a branch of Christian theology) from the University of Oxford and, according to his online bio, studies physics, alternative history, and science, as well as “strange stuff.” On his website, Giza Death Star, Farrell mentions that Macauley was powerful in her niche field and speculates she might have run afoul of financial and space interests that did not like “where she was going.” 

Unrelated to her career, but of note, Farrell mentions that Macauley’s dog, Leo, a 70-pound Plott hound, was said to have a “booming voice.” Macauley was attacked on a warm summer night, and, while it’s likely that residents in the near vicinity had their windows shut tight, air conditioners whirring, one would assume that two dogs, upon seeing their owner violently attacked by a stranger, would have reacted by barking loudly enough for someone to hear. Yet no one came to Macauley’s rescue—not even, it appears, her loyal dogs, who were found physically unharmed near her body. The implication? The attacker was not someone her dogs perceived as a threat or a stranger.

Molly Macauley pictured with her dogs, Thatcher and Leo.

It also would seem increasingly unlikely that authorities will discover Macauley’s attacker. In 2016, Baltimore’s homicide rate topped out at 318. With 189 homicides already in the books this year (as of July 18), the city is on pace to surpass that total by Dec. 31. There’s also the department’s declining homicide clearance rate: 50.2 percent in 2013, 45.5 percent in 2014 and 30.5 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.

The reason is simple.

“When you have a lot more murders, you clear a lot less,” T. J. Smith, the director of media relations for the Baltimore Police Department, told The New York Times in a 2016 story on Baltimore’s homicide rate.

At least one Roland Parker, Ellen Webb, understands the difficulty the police face. “I am not happy about [the unsolved murder] but recognize that it could have been a random act of violence fueled by drugs and therefore hard to track,” she said. 

“I don’t walk at night. Too many bad things have happened in the past few years, the murder being the most horrific but others that are scary too,”  she added.

Despite her reluctance, if you pass through the idyllic neighborhood of Roland Park at night, you’re likely to see some residents walking their dogs, or maybe even jogging or cycling through the quiet streets. You won’t see Molly Macauley. And though theories abound, no one, except whoever is responsible, knows why.

Anyone with information about this case can call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7Lockup or text tips to 443-902-4824.

Elizabeth Heubeck

Elizabeth Heubeck is a Baltimore Fishbowl contributor and local freelance writer.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. What about the dogs? Has anyone looked into the motive that the dogs were taken for fighting? Just an idea. Dogs are frequently stolen in Hampden. And they turn up without owners far too often.

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