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Hadden Irving CLARK





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Cross-dressing cannibal
Number of victims: 2 +
Date of murders: 1986 / 1992
Date of arrest: November 6, 1992
Date of birth: April 1951
Victims profile: Michelle Dorr, 6 / Laura Houghteling, 23
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
LocationMaryland, USA
Status: In June 1993 pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 1999, he was convicted of murdering Michelle Dorr. Another 30 years were added onto his sentence, plus 10 more for a past robbery charge
photo gallery

In the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

Clark v. State

The strange sight of a 47-year-old handcuffed man surrounded by police walking through the woods while wearing a woman's wig must have puzzled many Cape Cod residents on the morning of April 9, 2000. 

The man, Hadden Clark, a cross-dressing cannibal killer convicted in Maryland of two murders, was looking for the graves of two women he claimed to have buried nearly two decades ago. The woods, located in the town of Wellfleet, were part of a 7.3-acre property once owned by his grandfather, Silas Clark. Though Clark grew up in Pennsylvania, the alleged serial killer spent his summers in Wellfleet where he worked in restaurants.

Clark also met with authorities in Meriden, Connecticut, where he claims to have buried another body around 1980 in a family property owned by his maternal grandfather Maynard Scranton.

According to Maryland prison authorities Clark told a fellow inmate whom he believes is Jesus Christ that he killed as many as a dozen women and girls along the Eastern Seaboard between the mid-70s and 1993, the year he was arrested.

Investigators in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are now trying to determine if his claims are true or just another figment of his psychologically unstable imagination. "It has not been easy," said the Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Michael O'Keefe. "It has been more than two decades since the killings, the topography has changed, and Clark is an individual with a number of difficulties who has been in and out of institutions."

Clark suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, which was diagnosed in 1985 when he was discharged from the Navy where he served as a cook. "He's been hot and cold," an officer associated with the search told the Washington Post. "Sometimes he's truthful. Sometimes he leads you on a wild-goose chase."

Earlier this year Clark made a three-day visit to Cape Cod to lead another search of the Wellfleet property, but frigid conditions and a snowstorm forced investigators to reschedule. On the same trip he stopped at the West Mountain area in Connecticut where he refused to cooperate with authorities until they procured for him women's clothing. Agents complied and bought a skirt, panties and a bra at a nearby K-Mart. Though he complained that the skirt was the wrong size, he kept the panties and bra.

In both the January and April trips Clark was accompanied by the unidentified bearded prisoner who he thinks is Jesus. Authorities justified the Jesus-look-alike tagging along because the inmate allegedly is the only person who can calm Clark down during his frequent psychotic breakdowns.

Clark is currently serving a 60-year sentence in Montgomery County, Maryland, for the slayings of 6-year-old Michele Dorr and 23-year-old Laura Houghteling. Showing a penchant for sending police on treasure hunts, last December he led police to a bucket with 230 pieces of women's jewelry buried in the Cape Cod property. One of the pieces was Laura Houghteling's high school ring. Clark told his inmate friend that the discovered jewelry was a collection of "trophies" from a two-decade long killing spree.

Police said they probably would have dismissed Clark's latest prison confession if Clark had not led police to Michele Dorr's remains, who had been missing since 1986. Last October, after seven years of denying any involvement in her disappearance, Clark pleaded guilty to her murder once the Jesus-like inmate asked him to confess.

Her skeletal remains, which authorities had previously searched for in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and throughout Maryland, was found in a shallow grave covered by an abandoned mattress five minutes away from her home in Silver Spring.

In 1993 Clark was convicted of the murder of Laura Houghteling. Laura, a Harvard graduate, disappeared from her home in Bethesda on October 1992. Clark became a person of interest in the case when police discovered he had a history of mental problems and had occasionally done gardening for her family.

Clark was arrested a month after Laura's dissapearence after police found his bloody fingerprint in one of Laura's pillowcases. Hoping to find her body, police set out in one of several unsuccessful searches in central New Jersey after Clark suggested he buried 'them' in a state where he had lived as a child.

By June 1993 Clark pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Laura and led police to her body in a shallow grave not far from where he abducted her.

Because of statements he made while in custody for Laura's murder, Clark also became the prime suspect in the disappearance of Michele Dorr. Little Michele was last seen May 31, 1986, leaving her father's kitchen in a pink ruffled bathing suit heading to a turtle-shaped plastic pool in their back yard. At the time Clark was living in the basement of his brother's house, merely two doors from Michele's father's home.

Following her disappearance Carl Dorr, her father, snapped under police pressure and confessed to the killing. He later recanted saying that he was going through a nasty divorce with Michele's mother and when his daughter went missing he had a nervous breakdown. However the father remained the prime suspect in the case until Clark was charged with Laura Houghteling's murder.

By 1999 authorities were able to pin Michele's death on Clark by using a Mitochondrial DNA test, a technique developed by the army to identify the remains of M.I.A. soldiers brought back from Southeast Asia. MtDNA only passes from mothers to their children. The test, which is considered less conclusive than nuclear DNA testing, is used only when nuclear DNA is limited or old. Maryland authorities had a private laboratory match bloodstains from the floorboards of Clark's home after he left his brother's house with DNA samples from Michele's mother.

Clark later told an inmate that he stabbed Michele to death when he found her in his niece's bedroom waiting for her little playmate. He then threw her in a duffel bag and took her to his new home where he ate some of her remains before burying her. He also confessed to eating and torturing other women and girls.

Based on Clark's claims, the FBI opened several case files on unsolved child murders in Connecticut. Though he was a suspect in at least four cases around New Haven authorities have now focused their attention on another incarcerated serial killer, Harold Meade, who operated in the general area at the time of the unsolved killings. Meade, who is serving a life sentence for the bludgeoning deaths of three mentally retarded people in New Haven in 1970, denied killing anyone but the three murders he has been charged with. To prove his point he offered to give a DNA sample and asked for a polygraph test.

As for Clark, authorities are not quite sure if he is bluffing and taking them for a ride or if he is the serial killer he claims to be. That is, of course, until the Jesus-like convict convinces him to shut up or unearth more bodies.


Hadden Irving Clark (April, 1951) is an American impostor, murderer, and cannibal.

Early life

Clark's family was affluent but dysfunctional; his parents were both alcoholics who physically and emotionally abused their four children, and his two brothers were both arrested as adults for murder and domestic violence, respectively.

Clark's mother would dress him in girl's clothes when she was drunk, and as a result he grew to identify himself as a woman and would often wear women's clothes. He exhibited sadistic tendencies from a young age, delighting in torturing animals and bullying other children.

As an adult, he trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America and worked in upmarket hotels, restaurants and even cruise liners. However, his mental illness often led him to being sacked and often got back by thefts and sabotage. He later drifted through a series of menial jobs and a stint in the Navy, which ended when he was discharged after being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. He eventually settled in Maryland, where he was often homeless.


While Clark later claimed to have begun killing as a teenager, his first documented victim was his six-year-old neighbor, Michelle Dorr, whom he killed and cannibalized in May 1986. Clark was not considered a suspect at the time, however, as police initially suspected the girl's father.

In 1992, he murdered Laura Houghteling, a young woman whose mother had given him a part-time gardening job. The local police, who had begun to suspect him for Michelle Dorr's murder, investigated him and arrested him within days.

Trial and Imprisonment

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder the following year and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 1999, he was convicted of murdering Michelle Dorr after other prisoners testified that he had bragged about committing the crime. Another 30 years were added onto his sentence, plus 10 more for a past robbery charge, meaning that Clark is effectively serving life in prison.


Cross-dressing Serial Killer

Hadden Clark came from a prominent family.  His grandfather served as mayor of White Plains, New York.  His father had an MBA and PhD in chemistry and helped invent clear clinging plastic wrap and fire-retardant carpeting.

Hadden was the second child, his parents had wanted a girl.  His mother would often dress him in girl’s clothing.  His mother would also address him as Kristen when she was drunk.

Hadden enrolled at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, a two-year chef’s school in Hyde Park.   After graduation, Hadden had his pick of jobs but he was never able to keep a job long due to his strange behavior.

One of his jobs was in Provincetown on Cape Cod.  He would later confess to killing several women during this time and drinking their blood.  He buried one of the women under a sand dune after chopping off her hands at the wrists.  He used her fingers as bait for fishing.

Hadden would later join the Navy as a deck cook.  He would be given a medical discharge, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

In February of 1989, Hadden Clark dressed up as a woman and visited several churches.  While church members attended choir practice, Hadden stole their purses and coats.  When the cops pulled him over and asked to go in the trunk, Hadden screamed, “No, No!” you can’t go in my trunk.”  They opened the trunk and saw the coats and purses, they asked Hadden if he owned them.   Hadden said yes, “I’m a woman.”  The cops also found women wigs, dresses and cash.  They arrested Hadden, he stayed in jail for 45 days.

In 1986, six-year old Michelle Dorr was last seen leaving her father’s kitchen, headed to a plastic pool in the backyard.

In 1993, Hadden Clark dressed up in women’s clothes, broke into Laura Houghteling’s apartment, Hadden abducted her and killed her. Hadden made a crucial mistake, he left a bloody fingerprint in one of Laura’s pillowcases.  Police arrested him, in custody, he confessed to several murders of women and girls along the Eastern Seaboard between the mid-70’s and 1993.  Hadden also confessed to killing Michelle Dorr.  He told the police, he stabbed the six-year old to death, threw her in a duffel bag and took her to his home where he ate some of her remains before burying her.

When the police asked him, why did you kill these women, he replied, I thought if I drunk the blood of women, it would transform me into a woman, I wanted to become the women and girls I killed.

In 2000, Clark agreed to cooperate with the police by showing them the graves of his victims.  His one request, they had to purchase women’s clothing before he cooperated with the search.   The agents went to K-Mart and purchased, a skirt, panties, a wig and a bra. He was a strange sight, a 47-year old handcuffed man wearing a woman’s wig and clothing.  No graves were unearthed but he did lead the police to a bucket with 230 pieces of women’s jewelry.  One of the pieces was Laura Houghteling’s high school ring. These were his trophies.

Hadden is serving a 60-year sentence in Maryland for the slayings of Michelle Dorr and Laura Houghteling.

Regarding the other murders, authorities aren’t sure if he is bluffing or if he is the serial killer he claims to be.

* In 1984, after a night of drinking and drugs, Hadden Clark’s brother Bradfield would murder his date, Patricia Mak.  He banged her head against a brick wall and strangled her.  He cut her body into 11 pieces in the bathtub, cooked her breasts on the barbecue grill and ate them.  He stuffed the remaining body parts into plastic bags.  He later grew remorseful and confessed to the police.   He is currently serving time in prison.

Source: "Born Evil" by Adrian Havill


Snow Freezes Quest for Serial Killing Clues

Admitted Killer Says He Buried Victims in Cape Cod

By Amy Worden - The Washington Times

Jan. 19, 2000

WELLFLEET, Mass. ( -- Last week, investigators appeared close to finding evidence in the sandy soil of Cape Cod that a man already convicted of two murders is a serial killer.

After years of silence, Hadden Clark, a twice-convicted murderer, led investigators to the body of 6-year-old Michele Dorr, the second of his known victims. He also told investigators he had disposed of bodies of several young women in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Acting on the new information and sensing Clark was ready to tell more, detectives quickly hustled him from his Maryland prison cell north to Cape Cod in the hope that he could lead them to burial sites on seashore property that once belonged to his family.

Then a snowstorm froze the quest for clues. Southeastern Massachusetts was hit with its first major snowfall in almost a year and the latest search for victims of the 47-year-old handyman was aborted.

Weather 'frustrating'

"It was rather frustrating -- the day he arrived in New England, weather arrived with him -- snow, subfreezing temperatures, howling winds," said Massachusetts State Police Sgt. James Plath.

Clark was brought back to Maryland Monday. But he has told the truth before, which is why investigators say they are planning to return to the site, with or without him.

Investigators told today that they believe the man serving a 60-year prison sentence for killing Michele and a 23-year-old Maryland woman killed others and buried their bodies in Wellfleet -- they just don't know the number of victims or their names.

11 killings in six states?

"He has given us some statements that lead us to believe people are buried at the property, but we haven't been able to corroborate which individuals they are," said Plath. "He has given us the first name of one individual and the first and last name of another individual."

But he said police only have the phonetic spellings of the names, so they have been unable to match them with any specific missing persons.

Authorities said Clark, a transient who supported himself with odd jobs, may have been in involved in as many as 11 killings in six states.

So far, the new leads have run cold. But police said that, given Clark's violent history and his track record of leading investigators to his victims' bodies, they will continue to pursue any leads that might connect him with other crimes in New England and the Middle Atlantic states.

Plath would not comment on a published report quoting unnamed investigators as saying Clark tortured and cannibalized his victims.

"That is not the focus of our investigation; the focus of our investigation is to locate victims," he said.

Search will resume with thaw

The severe winter weather may have halted the dig at the 7.4-acre property where Clark spent summers as a boy with his family, but investigators said the search would continue once the cold snap breaks.

"We need a break in the weather," said Plath. "It could be next month or March. We need three or four days and conditions that the [cadaver] dogs can work in."

Clark was convicted of killing Michele, who was abducted from her father's back yard in a suburban Washington neighborhood, and 23-year-old Laura Houghteling, a Harvard University graduate who disappeared from her home in nearby Bethesda, Md., in 1992.

A funeral was held for Michele Saturday, 10 days after Clark led police to her body. Seven years ago, he helped police find Houghteling's body, which was found buried in Maryland.

Victim's jewelry in Wellfleet

After investigators found some of Houghteling's jewelry on the Wellfleet property in December and Michele's body was found in a shallow grave in a park in Silver Spring, Md., investigators from Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut and Pennsylvania expressed interest in interviewing Clark.

Sunday, detectives from Connecticut, accompanied by Clark, went to an area where he said he had killed someone more than two decades ago, but no evidence was found.

Clark also said he abducted two women in Vermont, killed them and buried them on his family's Wellfleet property, but Vermont investigators have found no connection to any unsolved crimes there.

"All we have is a thing about his claiming he killed a couple of people. We have nothing to match him to any bodies he said he killed," said Vermont State Police Lt. Bruce Lang.

A Rhode Island connection?

The Rhode Island State Police said they are exploring possible links Clark may have had to the Block Island and Warwick areas of the state, but have no connection between Clark and any specific crimes.

"There is no indication he has committed any crime in the state of Rhode Island," said Rhode Island State Police Maj. Steven Pare.

Police said the cadaver dogs would return and the digging resume at the first opportunity.

"Based on the fact that he provided information about the Maryland homicides and brought police to the grave sites and the December search in Wellfleet, it would be the only responsible thing to do," said Plath. "We have covered parts of the compound over six years but still have areas of interest that haven't been searched before."


Cold Weather on Cape Cod Halts Quest for Bodies

Child Killer Says Granddad's Place Was Burial Ground

By Amy Worden -

Jan. 17, 2000

WELLFLEET, Mass. -- Snow and single-digit temperatures have temporarily halted the search for more victims of a man convicted in two Maryland murders who has told police he killed other people in other states.

Hadden Clark, 47, is serving 70 years for the murders of 6-year-old Michele Dorr and 23-year-old Laura Houghteling. He was brought to Cape Cod last week after telling investigators he had buried other victims on property belonging to his grandfather.

In both, cases Clark led police to the remains of his victims -- both buried near their homes in suburban Washington. Police found Dorr's body last week in a shallow grave in a Silver Spring, Md., park, where it was buried after her disappearance in 1986.

Clark reportedly told investigators he buried some of his victims here on bucolic Cape Cod, even drawing maps of the alleged grave sites.

'Nothing is going on in Wellfleet'

But back-to-back snowstorms have hampered the current search of the 7-acre property adjacent to a national park. Police have been returning periodically since Clark's arrest seven years ago.

"Nothing is going on in Wellfleet today," said Police Chief Richard Rosenthal.

With temperatures in the single digits and several inches of snow on the ground, he does not expect the search to resume in the near future.

"They're using cadaver recovery dogs, and the odor of flesh in cold weather is hard to detect. It's also hard to dig in freezing ground," said Rosenthal.

Two rings found in December

A search Dec. 15 turned up no human remains, but investigators found a bucket containing two rings belonging to Houghteling, according to law enforcement sources.

Meanwhile, Connecticut State Police spent about five hours with Clark on Sunday in an unsuccessful effort to a find a woman he said he had buried there more than two decades ago.

"The information he offered us was not fruitful or relevant to any crime," said Lt. Ralph Carpenter of the Connecticut State Police. Clark had told police he killed a woman in Connecticut in the late 1970s and buried her there.

Investigators brought him to the area -- which they would not reveal -- Sunday and questioned him extensively, but found nothing, police said.

"We were prepared to dig," said Carpenter. "Nothing turned up related to any specific unsolved crimes. As of now, we haven't linked him to any case here."

A transient serial killer

Federal, state and local police are trying to separate fact from fiction -- a process they say could take a long time.

"We're dealing with a serial killer here. We don't know how many people he killed," said Rosenthal. "The fact is, he was a transient and moved around. How much is truth and how much of it's not? He was a very active guy for quite a long period of time. They have to see exactly what he's been up to."

Rosenthal said he did not know where Clark was taken after being questioned in Connecticut, but confirmed he was not brought back to Cape Cod or Massachusetts. Neither Maryland investigators nor the Massachusetts State Police could be reached for comment today.


Child Killer Aids Police in Search

Cape Cod Property May Hold Evidence of More Crimes

Jan. 14, 2000

WELLFLEET, Mass. (AP) -- A convicted murderer who twice led authorities to the bodies of his victims traveled from his Maryland prison Thursday to lead authorities on a search of property his family once owned on Cape Cod.

Hadden I. Clark, 47, has been sentenced to 70 years in prison for murdering 6-year-old Michele Lee Dorr, of Silver Spring, Md., and 23-year-old Laura Houghteling, of Bethesda, Md., and for an unrelated theft.

Michele disappeared in 1986, but her body was not found until last week, when Clark led authorities to a shallow grave in a suburban Washington park.

Authorities declined to say specifically what they were looking for Thursday in Wellfleet, where Clark's grandfather once lived. Barnstable County District Attorney Philip Rollins said investigators were looking for any evidence that a crime had been committed.

Woman remembers Clark, grandfather

Mike Garvey, a police lieutenant from Montgomery County, Md., said they had received "first names ... and circumstances" that led to the search. WRC-TV in Washington reported that authorities planned to search for bodies.

Clark accompanied FBI agents, state and local police from Wellfleet and Montgomery County on a search of the seven-acre property on Pamet Point Road, where he played as a boy. Authorities kept reporters and television cameras at bay.

Gloria Watts, who has lived on the street for 25 years, said she remembered Clark and his grandfather.

"Mr. Clark used to have a lovely garden," Watts said. "Hadden Clark and his brother played there. They were the grandchildren."

Reburied girl's body

This was not the first grim search in Wellfleet. Several years ago, investigators looked for Michele's body, without success.

During the trial for the girl's murder, prosecutors said Clark initially buried the body in Wellfleet and then returned in 1992 and removed the remains.

Massachusetts state police Sgt. James Plath said authorities returned Clark to Wellfleet because he had twice before led them to the buried bodies of his victims.

Snow hampered search efforts

The bodies of both Michele and Houghteling were found buried in Maryland, where Clark lived.

The Barnstable County District Attorney's Office declined to say if Thursday's search turned up any clues, or if the search would continue today.

Several inches of snow fell on the Cape Thursday, hampering efforts. Authorities said Clark would be held overnight in a Massachusetts prison that they did not name.


Body in Park Believed to Be Missing Girl

Man Already Convicted of 1986 Killing

Jan. 7, 2000

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) -- Police acting on a tip have uncovered remains believed to be that of a 6-year-old girl who vanished more than 13 years ago.

The remains were found buried in a park about five miles from the home of Michele Dorr, who over the years has been the subject of searches as far away as Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose told reporters at the scene that investigators had "a lot of strong indicators" they had found Michele's remains.

The clothing the girl was believed to have been wearing when she disappeared also was recovered from the site in North Paint Branch Stream Valley Park, Moose said.

'Some closure' for police

"It is a situation that for us brings some closure," said Moose, adding that the girl's family had been notified.

Earlier, police said they were led to the scene by confidential information, but would not confirm whether Hadden Clark, 47, who was convicted in October of killing the girl, tipped police.

Police spokesman Lt. Mike Garvey said police dogs searched a one-mile area for two days and gave officers an "alert" at a site, where police began digging Thursday.

The remains were buried no more than 18 inches deep on a ridge.

Dental records to be used for ID

The medical examiner's office will remove the remains and they will be taken to Baltimore for positive identification based on dental records. The medical examiner's office also will attempt to determine a cause of death, police said.

Michele was last seen playing in the back yard of her father's home in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring May 31, 1986.

Prosecutors said the girl went to the home of a playmate, a niece of Clark's who lived near her, but Clark was the only one at the house. Prosecutors said Clark stabbed her to death, cleaned up as much of the blood as he could and then disposed of her body.

Clark was sentenced to 30 years in prison for Michele's death. He will not begin serving that sentence until he completes two other sentences, totaling 40 years, for a theft charge and for the 1992 murder of Laura Houghteling, 23.


Man Gets 30 Years for Murdering Girl

Maryland 6-Year-Old's Body Was Never Found

Oct. 20, 1999

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) -- A Maryland man was sentenced to 30 years in prison today for the murder 13 years ago of a young girl whose body has never been found.

Six-year-old Michele Dorr was last seen outside her father's Silver Spring home May 31, 1986. Police believe she walked to a nearby home to play with a 5-year-old friend.

Prosecutors contended during the trial that Hadden Clark encountered the girl playing at his brother's house and slashed her to death. Clark, 47, was convicted Monday of second-degree murder.

The prosecutors said Clark buried the girl's body in a Cape Cod, Mass., cemetery, then dug it up on Halloween in 1992. But they have been unable to find it, despite years of questioning people and searching sites up the East Coast to Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Little hope they'll find body

Clark pleaded guilty in 1993 to the murder of a 23-year-old Bethesda woman and is serving a 30-year sentence for that.

Maryland District Court Judge Michael D. Mason cited "the denial of the ability of the parents to bury the child" as a factor in imposing a sentence that will not begin until Clark completes the previous 30-year term and a separate 10-year sentence for a theft charge tried earlier this year.

Mason urged Clark to tell where the little girl was buried, but prosecutors and family members expressed little hope that would occur.

The defendant did not testify during the trial and made no statement today.

"He went through great pains to cover it up, and has no remorse," said Carl Dorr, Michele's father.

'I might have done something to her'

Police said that during questioning Clark had told them, "I blacked out, and I might have done something to her."

Defense attorneys cited their unsuccessful effort to suppress a videotape of the police interview with Clark as one of several possible grounds for appeal. During the four-hour tape, a sometimes-nervous Clark said he suffered frequent blackouts. He said he slept in the Cape Cod cemetery near his father's grave on Halloween 1992.


Hadden Clark: Cannibal, Cross Dresser, Serial Killer

by Adrian Havill

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.

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.

“Where’s Eliza?”

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 clean up 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.

The Prime Suspect

Carl Dorr looked into the back yard several times. He didn’t see Michele. The pool was still, not a ripple. Still, he wasn’t worried. Sudley Road in Silver Spring, Maryland was a safe suburban street, three miles from the Washington, D.C. border. Nothing exciting had ever happened in this leafy enclave. He had no doubt that his daughter was down the street playing with her pal, Eliza Clark. He stayed relaxed, paying a few bills while he finished watching the auto race. Michele didn’t return.

Around 5:30 he wandered over to the Clark’s house. Geoffrey Clark had returned home and was in the back barbecuing. His children from his first marriage were there, as was his new girlfriend. Eliza was part of the group. There was no Michele.

Geoff Clark said he hadn’t seen Michele all day. So did his daughter Eliza. Perplexed, Carl walked to the end of the street and saw nothing. The bewildered father began knocking on doors. Nothing. Panic began to set in. He drove through the neighborhood again and then pointed his car in the direction of the nearest police precinct. There, he reported her missing.

The moment he did so, he became their prime suspect.

Hadden Clark finished his shift at the country club and began driving, the body of the six-year old girl in the back of his pickup truck, covered by a metal cap. He stopped off first at nearby Bethesda Naval Hospital to get the cut on his hand dressed. The free medical privileges were part of his benefits package he received when he was discharged from the Navy. When he left the hospital, it was nearly midnight.

Hadden drove towards Baltimore on old Columbia Pike. When he saw some woods he pulled over to the shoulder of the road and stopped. He had a ready-made story. If the cops came by he would tell them he had to pee and couldn’t wait.

Michele Dorr’s killer grabbed the duffel bag, a flashlight, and a shovel from the back of the truck, stepped over a guard rail, and stumbled down a ravine and into the woods. At the base of a tree he dug a grave four feet long, digging until he hit clay. He took the little girl from the duffel bag and began dropping her in. But there was one more piece of business. He had to taste her. The flesh was his prize, her death was his revenge. Afterwards, he covered her body with parts of an old mattress he found nearby, and some leaves. He climbed back up the incline and into his truck, driving back to his newly rented room, five miles from his brother’s house.

Every rookie cop is told that when a child disappears he is to look first in the direction of the parents or caregiver. Statistics bear this out. It’s usually a 90% chance that either the parents or the caregiver know what happened to the child.

“It’s page one in the handbook,” said Detective Mike Garvey, the first cop to speak with Carl Dorr. And the more they looked at Carl Dorr, the more he looked like their man. After all, hadn’t he threatened his wife, saying he would abduct their daughter just three months before? Hadn’t he and Dorothy been battling over the kid for years? Wasn’t Carl the last to see her alive? They went right at him, asking him to take a polygraph the very next day. When the polygraph examiner, a local fire marshal, told them that Carl might know more about Michele’s whereabouts than he was telling them, the cops thought they had their man.

“It was good cop, bad cop,” Carl later said. “They were right in my face, telling me I had failed the polygraph exam and that it had been 24 hours and they knew she was dead. ‘We’re going to find her,’ they said, ‘When we do, we’re coming to get you.’”

His estranged wife told the cops she thought he had done it too. She gave them an extra motive. Her estranged husband was trying to get out of paying her $400 a month in child support. Carl Dorr was caught inside a nightmare. When he told the police that he loved his daughter, they didn’t believe him. He took a second lie detector test and passed easily. In an attempt to prove his innocence, he underwent hypnosis and took sodium pentothal, the so-called truth serum. None of this convinced the cops. But then Carl may have been his own worst enemy. He snapped, and in a psychotic episode told a psychiatrist that he had abducted and killed his daughter.

“I started hallucinating,” he recalled. “I couldn’t take the pressure. My brain was soup.”

In his altered mental state he began to believe that people on television shows were talking about him. He looked behind the set and when he didn’t see anything, he thought the police were altering his reception.

The next day Carl got into his car and drove to his father’s grave. He began talking to his father’s headstone. He thought the headstone was speaking back. His mind was so gone that he began to believe he was God’s only son.

“I believed that if I could find Michele I could bring her back to life. And if was able to do that, then I must be Jesus,” he said. He began calling himself the White Messiah.

The cops took all this to be a form of confession. They had Michele’s father in for questioning again and again. It wasn’t long before Carl Dorr was committed to a hospital for 72 hours of psychiatric observation.  As soon as he got out, he was hauled in for questioning again.

In truth, Carl did have something to hide. Ashamed that he had neglected his daughter that afternoon, he fudged the timeline. The last time he had seen Michele was around noon of May 31st. But he told the cops it was around 2:10 p.m. The time discrepancy was about to give Hadden Clark a perfect alibi.

Detective Wayne Farrell would later recall cruising Sudbury Road on the day after Michele Dorr vanished. He was grasping for any straw and came upon Hadden Clark in the driveway of his brother’s house, tinkering with his truck’s engine.

“Were you here yesterday?” the cop asked him.

“For about two or three minutes,” Hadden claimed.

Farrell told Mike Garvey about the encounter. He said he had checked around and that Hadden Clark seemed to be the neighborhood weirdo. Garvey said to bring him in. Farrell called Geoff Clark and Geoff called Hadden and told him to be at the police precinct the next morning. He was on time but Garvey let him cool his heels for 10 minutes before going to work on him.

Hadden appeared to have an airtight story. He said he had punched his time clock at the country club where he worked at 2: 46 that afternoon. Garvey and Farrell did some figuring. If Carl Dorr said he had seen his daughter at 2:10 then Hadden Clark couldn’t have found, abducted or killed someone and then hid a body within 36 minutes. That was nearly impossible. Still they weren’t about to let him walk out without being questioned. They went soft on him at first, asking him about the rabbits he had raised behind his brother’s house and his life before moving in with his brother. They gradually began asking him about the children in the neighborhood and Hadden opened up, complaining that one of the little boys had once kicked him in the testicles while he played with a group. He also confessed he had once playfully pinned a little girl to the ground. Garvey jumped on the admission.

“Is that what you did with Michele?” He pulled out a photo of the little girl and when he did Hadden began rocking back and forth in his chair. Tears appeared in his eyes and he wouldn’t look at the photo.

“Is that what you did with Michele?” Garvey asked again. Hadden mumbled an answer and then did something the cops weren’t prepared for.

“I feel sick. Do you have a bathroom?” he asked. He went into the police station bathroom and began vomiting loudly into the toilet. The cops were right behind him.

“What did you do?” Garvey shouted into the stall. “The parents need to know. Tell me what happened. They need to bury their child. Was it an accident? Let’s talk about it.”

The suspect answered by retching loudly. As he continued to vomit into the toilet, Garvey slid a photo of Michele Dorr under the stall door.

“What did you do?”

Hadden made what was later viewed as a partial confession.

“I don’t know,” he said between heaves. “I may have done something. Sometimes I black out and do things I don’t remember.”

They were close, inches away from an arrest. But Hadden seemed to get a second wind. He said he had worked that day and mentioned the 2:46 punch-in again. Garvey checked his notes again. Clark was crazy maybe, but you can’t kill or kidnap someone, then dump or hide a body, and then get to work--which was nearly 10 miles away in that kind of time frame. Carl Dorr had given his daughter’s killer the perfect alibi while at the same time, directing the suspicion to himself because of his behavior.

Hadden Clark would walk away to kill again. As for Michele Dorr, it would be another 14 years until the mystery of her death would be solved and her body found.

A Mayflower Murderer

Most serial killers come from the bottom half of society. They grow up in poverty, and have few opportunities. Parents or caregivers often abuse them. While Hadden Clark was abused, he was given many advantages, the result of being the progeny of a distinguished family.

His mother, Flavia, boasted of being able to trace her lineage back to the voyage of the Mayflower and had direct descendants who were heroes in the Revolutionary War. Hadden’s grandfather on his father’s side served as the elected Republican mayor of White Plains, New York. His father--also named Hadden--would help invent clear clinging plastic wrap and fire-retardant carpeting. The Clark family was well off and well thought of by their neighbors. Despite all this, the family had a deep secret. Both parents were alcoholics whose drinking often led to physical battles that were sometimes fought out in front of the children.

Hadden, born in April of 1951, was the second child. His eldest brother, Bradfield, had been born a year earlier. Geoffrey Clark, the youngest brother, arrived in 1955. The last child, Alison, was born in 1959. She would run away from home as a teen and later break ties with her parents, telling an investigator, “I never had a family.”

The Clark family bounced around Connecticut and New Jersey as Hadden was growing up, rarely staying in any place for more than a year. Hadden’s father, who had both an MBA and a PhD in chemistry, never seemed satisfied with his employers, always searching for more money.

Bradfield was a handful from the start and became involved with drugs as a teen. Though he would receive two university degrees, and be highly thought of in the new world of computers, the Clark genes would be his downfall. In 1984, during a night of drinking and drugs, he would murder his date, a beautiful 29-year old woman named Patricia Mak.

After banging her head against a brick cinderblock and strangling her, he would cut up her body into 11 pieces in his bathtub, cook part of her breasts on his barbecue grill, eat them, and then stuff the remaining body parts into plastic bags. Like Hadden, he intended to bury the body, but grew remorseful, attempted suicide, and then called the police. He received 15-years-to-life and is still serving time at Pleasant Valley State Prison in California.

Geoff, the youngest brother, would have other problems. After earning a degree in microbiology at Ohio State University, he married a childhood sweetheart and the two made their way to the Maryland suburbs of Washington where a position at the Food and Drug Administration awaited. They settled into a quiet house on Sudbury Road in Silver Spring and had three children before the marriage turned ugly and divorce actions were filed. Marcia accused Geoff of physically abusing her twice and he was convicted of one of the charges, earning a suspended sentence.

If the three other Clark children had difficulties in their lives, with Bradfield eventually committing the ultimate offense, they paled alongside Hadden. He seemed to have been born evil and liked to hurt people. Children usually ran the other way when he showed up and those who dared cross him often found their family dog or cat deposited on their doorstep, decapitated.

Once, when Geoff and Hadden were learning to ride their bikes without hands, Hadden grabbed his handlebars and deliberately rammed his brother. Geoff hit the sidewalk headfirst and began bleeding profusely from the head. Hadden hurried home to tell his mother, Flavia.

“There’s been an accident,” he told her, but don’t worry the bike’s okay.” He didn’t mention his brother’s injuries.

“My brother’s sense of reality was always a little askew,” Geoff said, years later.

Flavia Clark at first blamed her son’s strange behavior on a bad forceps delivery. Then she thought he had cerebral palsy and took him to an expensive clinic. His father had no such illusions. After a few drinks, he began to refer to his son as “the retard.” Since Hadden was the second child, and the couple had wanted a girl, his mother often dressed him in frilly girl’s clothing. A taste for female clothing was implanted in him as was the name Kristen--his mother addressed him by that name when she was drunk.

Yet Hadden did not test as mentally deficient. In fact, he could appear to be a genius when it came to chess, a game that required thinking and concentration. On the other hand, emotionally he was a small child who lashed out physically when he was publicly criticized. The only place where he felt a degree of normalcy was at his grandparents’ retirement estate. After his term as mayor of White Plains, his grandfather had purchased a dream house at the edge of a town called Wellfleet on Cape Cod. Nobody called him a retard there and it became as close to heaven on earth as Hadden Clark would find.

“The days we spent there were the most wonderful time of Hadden’s life,” Geoff said once. “They were for all of us.”

Flavia Clark wanted her son to have a trade and so she enrolled him at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, a two-year chef’s school in Hyde Park, New York. There, he surprised everyone by demonstrating a real talent for carving ice sculptures and figures from tallow. His chef’s education was not without incidents. Hadden retaliated against slights by urinating into vats of mashed potatoes. Still, he passed enough courses to graduate from the cooking academy in January of 1974. In a rare display of solidarity, Hadden’s entire family showed up for the graduation ceremony.

The degree from a top-flight chef’s school enabled Hadden Clark to pick and choose employers -- at first. But he was never able to keep a job for more than a few months. His strange behavior, like openly chugging beef blood in a restaurant’s kitchen, did not endear him to fellow employees or employers. His first jobs were in Provincetown on Cape Cod, where years later he would confess to killing several women in the sand dunes nearby. On one such occasion, he claimed to have murdered a young woman burying her nude under a sand dune after first removing her hands at the wrists. Hadden told police he used her fingers as experimental bait for surf fishing, a hobby he had become proficient in while living on the Cape.

After becoming shunned by restaurant owners in the beach towns of Massachusetts, Hadden Clark did a one-year stint on the cruise ship S/S Norway. After that, there were jobs in Long Island banquet halls, and a three-week assignment at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. In all, Hadden Clark would hold 14 different jobs between 1974 and 1982.

During that time his family disintegrated further. His grandfather died and his grandmother, in poor health, entered a nursing home. His parents divorced, with his father dying soon after from cancer. Hadden, an unsuspected murderer many times over, entered the U.S. Navy as a below deck cook. It was his last chance at a career. But his shipmates didn’t understand a sailor who often wore frilly ladies’ panties under his uniform. There were beatings. Once, he was locked in a meat freezer for three hours. The Navy tried moving him to new ships but there were incidents.

After a final beating where he suffered a concussion from his head being banged against an aircraft carrier’s deck, Hadden was given a medical discharge, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. He soon showed up on his brother Geoff’s doorstep, which resulted in the brutal killing of little six-year old Michele Dorr, with the police believing that her father and not Hadden Clark was their prime suspect.

Walking Time Bomb

Hadden Clark’s mental state deteriorated over the next five years although his appearance and his behavior weren’t bad enough to get him committed to an institution. He eschewed rented rooms and began living under the cap of his pickup truck, often setting up camp in woods just off an interstate highway. His days as a chef were over. Nobody would hire him. He worked odd jobs as a minimum wage gardener sent out by homeless groups and at night he would toil at fast food shops. Hadden had plenty of money. Living alone in the woods cost nothing. By 1990 he had saved nearly $40,000.

During those years there were plenty of warnings. The legal system that had focused on Carl Dorr and not Hadden Clark continued to look the other way.

In September of 1988, Hadden Clark visited his mother, who was now living in Rhode Island. During his stay he began stealing items from her house. Flavia caught him and screamed in anger.

“What are you doing, stealing from me?” she yelled.

Hadden knocked his mother down and began kicking her. Then he jumped into his truck and tried to run her over. She jumped aside just in time. The next day she charged her son with assault and battery. Hadden got a year’s probation.

Flavia, devastated by Brad’s murder conviction and Hadden’s assault, wanted nothing to do with her progeny anymore. She wrote a letter to Hadden saying she was going to pretend he was dead until he got some help from a veterans’ hospital. “Always remember that your mother and father loved you,” she wrote. The word “loved,” written in the past tense, did not go unnoticed.

In 1988, Hadden Clark was stopped for speeding. Underneath the driver’s seat was a .38 caliber Astra handgun. The same police department that had focused on Carl Dorr and not Michele Dorr’s murderer let him go after he pled guilty to a destruction of property charge that had occurred earlier in the year. He was able to walk away with another suspended sentence and probation, a slap on the wrist that now extended into two states.

The destruction of property charge was particularly egregious and showed his temper was far from under control. In his last rental before going to live inside his truck in the woods, Hadden was bounced from a house in Bethesda, Maryland because as his landlord said, “he seemed crazy and evil.” But before he left, he literally booby-trapped the house.

Hadden began by balancing a 10-gallon can of oil on top of a door so that it would spill when the door was pushed open. After spraying black dye on the living room carpet, he hid rotting fish heads inside the family’s piano, chimney, and stove. As a final act of revenge, he killed both the family cats, placing one dead feline on the front door welcome mat and the other inside the refrigerator. Finally he stole several inconsequential items that ranged from books to tools--even the family’s vacuum cleaner.

“The smell of decaying fish permeated the house and was extremely difficult to eradicate,” the charging document read. Yet, the combination of a gun possession charge and vandalism set off no alarm bells about the man the local cops had once--albeit briefly--suspected of killing a six-year old girl.

There were times that Hadden Clark attempted to get help. He would often show up at a local veterans’ hospital but after staying a few days and getting a few doses of Haldol, the anti-psychotic drug, he would bolt from the ward and return to his woods.

A doctor’s diagnosis was a warning: “his mental state is psychosis with questionable etiology. He states that birds and squirrels talk to him and keep him company . . . he is tearful at times with intermittent outbursts of anger and agitation . . . he is a potential danger to himself through poor judgment and self-defeating behavior.”

Hadden’s own words as recorded by the hospital’s doctors were chilling. “I think I have a split personality,” he said. “I don’t like to hurt people but I do things I am not aware of . . .”

In February of 1989, local police again arrested Hadden Clark. This time there was a 17-count criminal indictment. Fifteen of the counts were for theft. The acts were unusual. Hadden Clark had dressed in women’s clothing and visited a number of area churches. While women inside the churches attended choir practice, he visited the cloakroom and stole both their purses and their coats.

On the day he was arrested, he pulled over to the shoulder of a park road and tinkered with his car. When the police offered assistance, Hadden panicked. He began fumbling around in the front seat, attempting to hide some of the women’s coats and purses.

“No! No!” he told the cops. “You can’t go in my truck.”

It was too late. The police had seen a black gun holster hanging at the top of a seatbelt restraint. They wanted to see what else he had. When they saw the women’s purses and coats they asked if he owned them.  Hadden Clark said he did.

“They’re yours? The incredulous cop asked.

“Yes,” Hadden Clark answered. “I’m a woman.”

The cops searched further. There were women’s wigs, a hypodermic syringe, women’s dresses, and a thick roll of cash.

Arrested, he finally served some jail time. He stayed inside for 45days before he posted bail but later boasted that he did the jail time on purpose because it was more comfortable in the county detention center than outside in the freezing February cold. He began to like the three meals a day, a roof over his head and movies every Thursday. He was almost reluctant to leave when spring arrived.

Although some of the charges were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on two counts, the sentencing guidelines still called for three months to two years. Again there was probation even though he was already on probation in Maryland and Rhode Island.

Why such a minimal penalty?

“The defendant has serious mental problems and is now addressing them,” Rockville, Maryland Judge Irma S. Raker wrote in her sentencing opinion. His public defender, Donald Salzman, was so sympathetic, he wrote a letter for Hadden Clark and instructed him to hand it to any police officer the next time he was arrested. The note read:


I want the help of my lawyer, Donald P. Salzman
and I want my lawyer to be present before I answer any questions about my case or any other matters.

I do not wish to speak to anyone concerning any
criminal charges pending against me or anyone else, or
any criminal investigation regardless of whether I am

I do not want to be in any lineup, or give any
handwriting samples, or give any blood, hair, urine,
or any other samples unless my lawyer is present.

My lawyer’s address and phone number are:

Donald P. Salzman
Assistant Public Defender
Office of the Public Defender
27 Courthouse Square
Rockville, Maryland 20850
(301) 279-1372}

Below the letter was a place for a police officer to sign and next to that a phrase that said: “To prove that I have read this statement to you or that you have read it, please sign here.”

Hadden Clark was a walking time bomb that now had a “Get Out Of Jail Card” in his back pocket. The courts and the public defender’s offices were doing everything possible to keep him on the streets of Maryland and giving him every opportunity to kill again.

He would do so very shortly. And the beautiful young woman who would be his victim would die a needless, terrible death because of it.

Laura, Sweet Laura

“When I was five years old I got up the courage to ask my mother if she believed in God,” Laura Houghteling once wrote in a high school essay on life and death. “She said no and some things that I didn’t understand. When I asked what would happen when somebody dies if there is no God, she told us she didn’t know. That sounded pretty ridiculous and lonely to me and I was scared because I didn’t want anyone to die anymore and I wished there was a God for my mommy to believe in.”

Laura Houghteling’s divorced mother, Penny, was a psychotherapist and Laura was considered brilliant, someone who was going places in life. Nobody was surprised when she was accepted into Harvard University. Her friends expected great things from the beautiful blonde who friends sometimes called Twiggy because she was six-feet tall.

“She was going to be president of this country one day,” said her close friend, Susanna Monroney. The words were spoken after Hadden Clark killed and tortured her in the worst way possible.

Penny Houghteling’s home in Bethesda, Maryland was about 10 miles from where Hadden had murdered and cannibalized Michele Dorr in 1986. Penny liked to help the unfortunate and thought she was doing a good deed when she hired what she thought was a homeless man from a local church organization in early 1992. She needed a gardener and Hadden proved to be a good worker that soon cleaved to her as if she was his mother. Hadden tended her zinnias and pruned her perennials so well that she began to give him the run of the kitchen. He was allowed to make himself coffee and use the bathroom while working without asking.

Penny was trusting and perhaps not very observing. When a graduated strand of pearls disappeared, she didn’t confront her employee. She also failed to notice that her underwear and other clothing were being stolen, one piece at a time. Penny had once complained to Hadden about some missing gardening tools and her employee had blown up and yelled at her. Maybe she was being too hard on him, she thought at the time.

Laura returned home after her Harvard graduation in the summer of 1992. For Hadden, who had become mentally and emotionally affixed to Penny, it seemed that Penny now had another child. She also appeared to like this child more than him. Within days, Hadden Clark was plotting revenge.

In mid-October Penny Houghteling told Hadden she would be going away to a conference for a week. She gave him the exact dates--from the 17th to the 25th. That was all Hadden Clark needed. The next day he visited a local hardware chain and purchased two rolls of duct tape, some braided rope, and some nylon cord. In the left hand corner of the check he used for his purchases--where the word Memo was printed--he wrote “Laura.”

That Saturday, the 17th of October, Laura went to a horse meet in nearby Middleburg, Virginia. A gala dinner party followed the event afterwards. The next day she slept in and then watched a Sunday NFL football game with her older brother Warren and his housemate. She had taken a temporary job in Washington until she decided whether to go on to law school or become a teacher. There was a big project at the firm due to start the next morning and so she went to bed early, just after ten o’clock.

Around midnight Hadden Clark parked his truck on the street next to the Houghteling house. He went to Penny’s gardening shed and grabbed the spare house key he knew was kept inside.

Hadden didn’t look or feel like himself. For starters, he was wearing a woman’s wig. Next to his skin he was wearing Penny Houghteling’s underwear. He carried a black purse, and over Penny’s lingerie he wore a woman’s blouse and slacks. He also wore a woman’s trench coat and underneath the trench coat, he concealed a .22 caliber rifle. He turned the key in the lock, tip-toed silently to Laura’s bedroom and once inside, used the gun to nudge her awake. His first words to her left the young woman speechless.

“Why are you in my bed?” he asked.

Laura didn’t know how to respond.

“What are you doing in my bed?”

His questions made no sense.

“Why are you wearing my clothes?” Hadden asked.

Tears fell from Laura’s eyes and onto her cheeks.

“Tell me I’m Laura.” he instructed.

“You’re Laura. Please don’t hurt me.”

Hadden asked Laura Houghteling to swear on the Bible that he was Laura. She did. Then, holding the gun on her, he forced Laura to get up, undress, and take a bath. After the cleansing ritual, he led her back into the bedroom and made her lie down on her stomach. His plan was to abduct her, take her to his campsite in the woods and “introduce her to Hadden.” He bound her wrists with duct tape, then her ankles. He turned her over and began covering her mouth with the tape, but got so excited he couldn’t stop and the tape soon covered her nose and eyes. She couldn’t breathe. Laura struggled until the lack of air suffocated her and she lay motionless.

As Laura lay still, Hadden began removing the tape from her face with a pair of scissors. Excited, his hand slipped and the sharp shears pierced her neck and caused blood to flow onto the sheets and pillowcase. He became fascinated with the earrings she was wearing and decided to take them for a souvenir. When he had a hard time removing the second one, he simply snipped it off with the sharp scissors, amputating the lower part of her ear and causing more blood to flow.

Hadden Clark sat by her bed and watched her nude body for nearly an hour. At times he stroked her breasts but would later claim that he neither raped nor practiced cannibalism on any part of her remains. At three in the morning, he wrapped her body in a queen-sized sheet, slung her over his shoulder, and stashed her remains on a narrow bed underneath the cap of the rear of his truck. He went back inside and gathered up the bloody evidence--the sheet, mattress pad, and pillowcase and carried them out along with some trophies. Laura’s high school ring, a crystal unicorn, and other personal effects went into his pockets. Then he lay down on her bed and slept.

Laura’s killer left the house at around eight that morning. He was wearing the woman’s wig and carrying the purse. A housekeeper standing with a child waiting for a school bus would later tell police she thought the person was Laura, headed out to her job. Hadden got in his truck and drove two blocks to the parking lot of a nearby church. He backed his truck into a corner of the lot and went to sleep again. Laura’s dead body was beside him.

While Hadden slept, Laura’s employer began calling the house, each time getting an answering machine. It wasn’t like Laura to miss work and give no explanation. Concerned, she sent someone out to the house to look around. The young woman, a personal friend, got no answer when she rang the doorbell. Alarmed, she telephoned Laura’s brother and began calling her friends. There was no reason to call the police. Yet.

After searching the house, Warren Houghteling decided to walk the route Laura took to the bus stop that she often used to take her to work. As he walked down the street, he saw Hadden Clark driving towards them in his pickup truck. Hadden was planning another visit to the house for more thievery. Innocently, Warren tried to wave him down to see if the family gardener knew anything about his sister’s whereabouts. Indeed, Hadden did pull over, but when Warren walked towards him he had second thoughts and sped away as if the devil himself was chasing after him. Warren thought the behavior was a bit weird but then he knew Hadden was a little weird and didn’t think much about it. Late that night he called the police and his mother. The cops told him not to worry. Laura would likely turn up soon, they said.

Hadden was frightened after his encounter with Warren. He decided to bury his prize that night. He drove to a spot on Interstate-270, just across the highway from his latest campsite. Laura was heavy. She weighed much more than Michele Dorr and he stumbled with the dead weight until he dropped her, just 20 feet from the road. He dug feverishly until there was a shallow grave. He rolled her into it and covered the body with dirt and leaves. In the months to come, animals would discover the body’s scent, and they would dig and paw into it, trying to get to the remains. By spring, Laura’s wrists and lower extremities would rise above ground; the heavy rains forcing the body upwards.

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.

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.


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.

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.


Faced with overwhelming evidence, even though there was no body, Hadden Clark pled guilty to second-degree murder and received a 30-year sentence in 1993. Within days after his sentencing, he led the police, his lawyers, and the prosecutors to Laura Houghteling’s body.

In prison, Hadden made several mistakes. He began boasting of his many murders, telling inmates in detail about how he killed Michele Dorr, Laura, and others. The convicts, who hated child killers, and who believed that informing on Hadden might also get them early parole, contacted the police. In 1999, he was tried twice. The first was for stealing from the Mahany family, which netted him another ten years. The second, for the murder of Michele Dorr, where several of his fellow inmates testified against him, got him another 30 years.

At the trial, his defense attorney tried to confuse the jurors by pointing the finger at Carl Dorr, which didn’t work. After the conviction, a crazed Hadden Clark confessed to a convict who he believed was Jesus Christ (the prisoner did bear a startling resemblance to the popular paintings of the Messiah) and told him where he buried Michele Dorr. In January of 2000, Hadden led them to the woods and helped to dig up her remains, nearly 14 years after he killed her.

One might think that an imprisoned Hadden Clark would then sink into obscurity. Instead, he convinced an FBI serial killing team that he might have murdered as many as a dozen other young women. Between January and April, 2000 he and his friend “Jesus” were escorted to several states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) where he claimed to have murdered young women. To facilitate the search, law enforcement visited a local K-Mart where they purchased female clothes and a wig for him to wear while they searched the dunes of Cape Cod. In the end, the search for bodies was fruitless, partly because more than 20 years had passed. Sand dunes had shifted and sites where Hadden claimed to have buried victims had been covered over with asphalt and were now strip malls.

The police, with Hadden’s help, did find something that gave credibility to Hadden’s claims of more victims. At the edge of his grandfather’s former estate, they dug up a large bucket that had about 200 pieces of women’s jewelry in it. Several of the items were Laura Houghteling’s. Hadden claimed to have taken the jewelry from each of his victims as souvenirs.

Near the top of the bucket was an exquisite silver wood nymph pin. Hadden Clark told detectives that the pin was his “angel of death” and that it had been taken from his first victim. He claimed to have worn it, pinned to Penny’s clothing, the night he killed Laura Houghteling.  


Adrian Havill interviewed and corresponded with Hadden Clark more than a dozen times for this account. Only the names of Geoffrey Clark’s young children were changed in this story. The complete life and crimes of Hadden Clark is chronicled in his book, Born Evil



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