ROCKVILLE, MD – The alleged murderer of a police officer in 1971 had remained at large for over fifty years until recently.
Now, the Montgomery County Department of Police has announced that they have not only taken the person they believe is responsible into custody, but the suspect allegedly confessed to the crime.
More than half a century after Captain James Tappen Hall was fatally shot in Rockville, Maryland, in 1971, police have located and arrested a suspect who confessed to the murder earlier this month, they announced on Wednesday. https://t.co/d5diSqdC5W
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 8, 2022
Montgomery County Department of Police Special Deputy Captain James Tappen Hall apparently came across a burglary in progress on October 23rd, 1971. According to a press release from the police department in 2021:
“At approximately 10:40 p.m. on Saturday, October 23, witnesses entered the Manor Country Club in the 1400 block of Carrolton Road and reported that there was a man lying face down in the southeast parking lot with trauma to his head. Police and Fire Rescue responded and discovered Captain Hall suffering from a gunshot wound to his head.”
Captain Hall was immediately transported to a nearby hospital where he fought for his life until losing his battle on October 26th. Detectives feverishly worked to determine exactly what happened that night and hold whoever was responsible for the murder.
Larry Smith (formerly Becker) charged with the murder of Captain James Tappen Hall in 1971. pic.twitter.com/lVEM2zBtmm
— Paul Wagner (@paulcwagner) September 7, 2022
Detectives worked the case and developed a potential suspect in the crime, Larry David Becker, and interviewed him in 1973. At the time, there was not enough evidence and detectives did not officially list him as a suspect in the case.
Years passed and the case turned cold where it would stay until October of 2021 when detectives decided to take another look at the case.
Detective K. Leggett and Corporal L. Killen of the Cold Case Unit began digging through the case files and were able to piece together a case that showed Becker as the person of interest yet again. In a press release, the agency wrote:
“For almost a year, Detective K. Leggett and Corporal L. Killen of the Cold Case Unit combed through case files, recordings, and interviewed witnesses. Through the course of their investigation, Leggett and Killen narrowed in on one person, Larry David Becker.”
Both detectives began actively searching for Becker and learned that he started using the last name of Smith in 1975 and fled the area. Becker moved to upstate New York where he stayed until detectives were able to locate and interview him again.
Both detectives traveled to New York and met with Becker on September 1, 2022, where they interviewed him regarding the murder of Captain Hall. Allegedly, during the interview, Becker confessed to the decades-old murder.
Taking the information and evidence that the detectives obtained in combination with the alleged confession of Becker, they presented the case in front of a judge who determined there was sufficient probable cause to charge Becker with the murder of Captain Hall.
After detectives obtained the warrant and took Becker into custody, he waived extradition and was transported back to Montgomery County to answer for his crime.
— 7News DC (@7NewsDC) September 7, 2022
Police chief Marcus G. Jones conducted a press conference shortly after Becker was arrested. During that conference, Chief Jones reported:
“They [Detective Leggett and Corporal Killen] have been dedicated and committed to finding justice. We have never shown that we have given up on finding justice for this case.
They have persevered in a manner that demonstrates the high quality of Montgomery County Police…To obtain a confession for someone who committed a crime 51 years ago is a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment.”
The police agency advises that even though they have taken Becker into custody, they still view it as an ongoing investigation.
That could merely mean that they need it open to tie up some loose ends or they could potentially be looking for people who may have helped Becker before, during, or after the murder.
For now, Captain Hall can rest easy as his alleged murderer is finally being held accountable for his murder. Rest easy Captain Hall, we will take it from here.
Caught on camera: Woman handcuffed, placed in police SUV gets officer’s rifle, opens fire
CLAY COUNTY, OK – A woman who was the subject of a wellness check was detained by a sheriff’s deputy and was placed in the back seat of a marked SUV in handcuffs.
Deputies then had a conversation with another civilian in the yard of the home. Their intent was only to detain her for erratic behavior, and she was not going to be arrested.
It only took a few minutes for that to change.
Cameras inside the vehicle captured what unfolded in that backseat and led to 36-year-old Rachael Zion Clay to be held on a $1 million bail.
The woman can be seen wiggling around, eventually freeing one of her hands from the cuffs. She was then able to reach through the partition, release the lock that held the deputy’s rifle.
She brought it back through the partition, and as video shows, she tinkered with the rifle for several minutes while seemingly rocking back and forth.
After nearly four minutes, Clay can be seen haphazardly pointing the rifle out the back window and firing it blindly.
Authorities were able to confirm what video appeared to show.
“While in the back seat of a patrol car, she was able to get her wrist free from the handcuffs and the handcuffs were put on properly,” said Grady County Undersheriff Gary Boggess.
“There’s several switches, one is a gun switch to unlock the gun lock and she found it, unlocked the gun lock, and was able to retrieve an AR-15 rifle. Then she was able to figure out how to put a round in it, put it on fire and she fired approximately 10 rounds at our deputies and a civilian.”
Body camera footage captured the moment of the shots, and the civilian can be seen being shot. He grabs at his chest and screams “ow.”
Seconds later, as they all retreated to cover behind the other deputy’s vehicle, a blood stain appears on his shirt in the area he initially clutched.
A deputy radioed for additional units and EMS. He was also hit, with a round grazing his head, narrowly avoiding a more catastrophic outcome.
A young man can be seen coming out of the home, and officers telling him to get behind the vehicle. He was the son of the wounded civilian. Helped render aid to both injured men until EMS arrived.
Clay barricaded herself in the vehicle for close to three hours before eventually surrendering. She was charged with shooting with intent to kill.
Authorities say that both men were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and have been released.
The events of that day, while freak in nature, provided valuable insight into how things can be done differently to protect both law enforcement and innocent civilians.
Boggess told ABC 7 that his agency is looking into protocol and practice changes to prevent this sort if incident from happening again.
“One, I will say, is our console where it actually said ‘gun,’” he said. “She was able to see that. That’s going to be replaced. We’re going to put a switch someplace else in the vehicle to lock our gun.
It’s a freak deal. It’s one of these, I’m not going to say one in a million, but you know, it’s one of those deals that, you know, once it happens, then you go back and try to make sure it never happens again. That’s what we’re looking at.”
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