Tracey Kirkpatrick was a quiet teenager who lived in the small town of Frederick, Maryland. On the night of March 15th, 1989, Tracey was scheduled to close the store she worked at, Aileen Ladies Sportswear. Around 10:30 PM, a security guard, noticed the lights in the store were on and Tracey's lifeless body was discovered. The case was confusing and police couldn't find a motive. Three months after the murder, a guy named Don called a nationwide confession hot line and confessed to the murder. Another tip came in about a guy named Sean that may be involved. The main theory seems to point at the security guard that discovered Tracey, Don Barnes Jr. His father was a former sheriff. This case remains unsolved, but someone knows something. If you have any information regarding the murder of Tracy Kirkpatrick, please contact the Frederick Police Department at 301-600-6219.
Tracey Kirkpatrick was a quiet teenager who lived in the small town of Frederick, Maryland. She had a passion for writing poetry, was very intelligent, and a hard worker. She absolutely loved people and had a lot of friends. Those who knew Tracy well say she is funny and had a feisty attitude. She loved to blast the radio in her 10-year-old Pontiac Grand Prix. She tended to be reserved, and shy, but was compassionate and loved animals and would often take in strays from the neighborhood. Tracy was an honors student and her poetry was often about loneliness, and one was published in the New American Poetry Anthology. After graduation, Tracy was going to attend St. Mary's University to study accounting, with the hope of getting into law school later.
Before we get too far, I just want to mention that Tracey's name has been spelled with an E and without in several articles. I have no idea why it's different in all of the sources. I believe it's with an E, but I'm not positive.
When Tracey was a senior in high school, she worked two part-time jobs, one of her jobs was as a sales clerk in a clothing store called Aileen Ladies Sportswear. On the night of March 15th, 1989, Tracey was scheduled to close the store and she was also in charge of adding up the receipts for the day. Now, the timeline is slightly different depending on what article you read, but I'll give you the one that is sighted the most. At about 6PM, Tracey's mother, Diane stopped by the store and found Tracy alone, reading a book. Diane dropped off dinner and they chatted for a few minutes. Tracy told her mom that she would be heading straight to bed after she got home that night. Around 8PM, Tracy's manager stopped by the store for awhile, and there weren't any other transactions logged on the register after this point. Tracey was left alone in the store at 8:45PM and this was just 15 minutes before closing time. Around 10:30PM a security guard noticed that the lights were still on in the store and the front door was unlocked. The guard called out, but didn't get a response so he went inside to check things out. The guard discovered Tracey's lifeless body in a back storage room and called the police right away.
Around 11PM, Tracey's parents headed to the mall. They were getting concerned because their daughter was late and should have arrived home over an hour ago. Tracey had recently had issue with her car batter dying. Her parents worried that her car may have broken down somewhere and they may need to go jump it. When they got to the store, they saw red and blue lights flashing all over the parking lot Initially, Tracey's parents thought she may have been robbed. Her mother approached an officer and said, “Is she alright, can I see her? And when he shook his head no, I just blocked out everything. I didn't want to hear the rest of what was going to be said to me. Did someone have it against her so much that they would do something like that to her? She never did anything to hurt anybody.”
Investigators say there was no sign of a struggle or sexual assault. The door hand been forced open, so someone got in the store before Tracy locked up for the night. The cash receipts were still sitting on the counter and the money was in the cash register. Tracey's purse was missing and there were blood droplets in the back hallway that lead to the store's loading dock and trash cans. A weapon was not found, but the wounds indicated a knife had been used in the murder.
Tracy didn't appear to have any defensive wounds, so it's believed that she knew her killer and possibly trusted this person. Unfortunately, the investigators didn't subpoena the phone records before the phone company erased them. It's believed that Tracy was likely killed between 8PM where her manager stopped by and 10:30 PM when her body was discovered by the security guard, Don Barnes Jr. There were 22 stab wounds in Tracey's body and they were in multiple locations on her head, neck, arms, back, and chest. There were three stab wounds in her head that resulted in multiple skull fractures and there were two stab wounds that punctured vital organs in her right chest, including one of her lungs. She died from massive internal bleeding and trauma from her injuries, according to an autopsy report released to The Frederick News-Post.
This case was confusing right off the bat and police just couldn't find a motive. Three months after the murder, they finally got their first break. A guy named Don called a nationwide confession hotline and confessed to the murder. I'll play it for you right now.
On October 10th, 1989, investigators wrote a letter to the caller and this was published to the front page of The Frederick News-Post. It says, “I am personally willing to work with you to resolve this tragic situation and I pray you now will come forward to relieve the hurt, which Tracy's family and friends have suffered as well as the pain which has consumed your life since that night.”
The tip was sent over to the Frederick police and they believed that they were listening to the killer. The call was traced back to the supermarket 8 miles away in Walkersville, Maryland. On October 24th, just two weeks later, Frederick police received a call from a woman named Martha Woodworth. She told the police that she was a psychic and had been contacted by a young man who said his name was Sean. Martha said Sean contacted her repeatedly and was obsessed with finding the person who murdered Tracey. She asked Sean to provide more information and he sent her newspaper clippings of the crime.
Martha said, “When I received the envelope with his handwriting on the outside, I thought this person has a much stronger involvement than just being a friend who's interested. I found the handwriting extremely disturbing. So I felt it was my responsibility to alert the police that I had a potential suspect for them.”
Police felt there may be a connection as well. They decided to play the confession tape for Martha that came in on the confession hotline. She knew the voice right away. She said, “I knew it was Sean. In fact, my heart dropped. It was very chilling to hear the voice of the person I'd been speaking to for months, actually confessing to the crime.”
The return address on Sean's envelope was for Walkersville, Maryland. This is the same town the call-in confession came from. So, the police got creative. On the one year anniversary of Tracy's murder they gave the confession tape to four local DJ's to broadcast it and three people called in saying they knew the voice. They all provided the same exact name. The police recognized the name, because it belonged to the guy that sent the newspaper clippings. The very next day, police were at this guy's home with a search warrant, searching for evidence. They found newspaper clippings and materials related to the case and also obtained a DNA sample. To be clear, this person's name hasn't been released as they have been cleared as a suspect. Basically, the case was taken to a grand jury indictment based on the evidence and the jury did not find probable cause for charges and this person was ultimately ruled out as a suspect. They also ruled out Tracey's ex-boyfriend during this process as well.
The police have tried different strategies over the years to figure out who did this. Sgt. Andrew Alcorn with the Frederick Police Department says, “Instead of just one detective putting a set of eyes on it, we would take the most experienced detectives in the unit, four or five of them, and have all of them look at the case together and develop new ideas, new leads.” Sgt. Alcorn explains that the group is still interviewing suspects and looking at new ways to evaluate and collect evidence. They feel confident that they will be able to find the killer. He also stated that this is the first time in a decade that they have assembled a group to work a homicide together.
Technology keeps advancing and it has given the police the opportunity to apply new science to the evidence they've been holding onto. They are going back and interviewing their former officers that worked the case and the ones that were at the department store. They are hoping to uncover new clues.
1)The main theory that I have seen is that the security guard that discovered Tracy's body, Don Barnes Jr, is the murderer. According to his daughter, he was abusive and she actually believes he was involved in the killing, His father was a former sheriff with Frederick County and it's suggested that there was cover up.
2)There was a detective that worked the case from 1992 to 1994 and he believed an acquaintance of Tracy's was the actual killer. He believed that this person visited the store on the night of the murder and confessed his feelings for Tracy, but things turned violent when she just wanted to remain friends. The detective says he brought the case to a grand jury and two-thirds voted to indict, but the State's Attorney's office declined to prosecute because of circumstantial evidence.
3)Some people believe that Tracy was actually a victim of the I-70 Killer. This was an unknown serial killer, suspected of killing six store clerks in the Midwestern United States between 1992 and 1994, but some people believe the killer actually started earlier than that.
Tracey's older sister, Deonda Kirkpatrick wrote a letter to her. She described how she made a photo collage with her sister as a Christmas gift for their parents and this made her realize how much Tracey still lives on. She says Tracey's compassionate heart and feisty attitude are reflected in her nieces and nephews. She wrote, “ you have made yourself a part of everything and everyone in this family,”
Tracy's family still works hard to keep her memory alive and they hold regular vigils at the Westbridge Shopping Center. Every year, the celebrate her birthday by bringing yellow roses or carnations to a cherry tree that they planted at Brunswick High School in her honor. This case remains unsolved, but someone knows something. If you have any information regarding the murder of Tracy Kirkpatrick, please contact the Frederick Police Department at 301-600-6219.
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