An unsolved rape and murder in Leonardtown Maryland


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Henrietta Ragan and her husband Frances had chosen a property on Washington Street to build their dream home.

Frances passes away in February of 1959, leaving Henrietta to finish their dream home. In fact, the final landscaping of the home is completed the morning of Henrietta's rape and murder.

The black and white photo, submitted by a viewer, was taken shortly after Henrietta's murder. The only other photos that exist are blurry second and third generation newspaper copies.

As no police reports can be located from the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police or FBI, the information below is reconstructed from newspaper articles of the day, and half-century-old memories.

Henrietta's home stands on Washington Street, the fourth house on the left past Tudor Hall Road, going town the hill towards Leonardtown Wharf. It has been described as a four room house.

Neighbors recalled hearing no suspicious noises or cries for help on the night of the murder.

Henrietta's body is discovered by her employer Maurice T. Thrift, whose business is located across the street. Maurice states he finds Henrietta "covered neatly" in her bed, but "she didn't look right," so he runs back to his business and calls a doctor and the police.

Police respond to the scene on the morning of the murder, but for reasons unknown, the crime scene is not process until three days later. Current recollections by town residents revealed that the crime scene was not preserved, with dozens of people going in and out of the residence to take a look.

A 2012 interview with a Ragan family member revealed that Henrietta's brother was contacted by the local funeral director as "the condition of Aunt TT (Henrietta) didn't match the paperwork the funeral director received." Henrietta's brother asked the Maryland State Police to assist in the investigation of her murder.

Three days later, the home was processed by Maryland State Police Crime Lab Technicians. The details below are from newspaper accounts and later-day interviews of family members.

  • a grey pullover sweater and grey wallet is missing (the sweater believed to be used as a gag per Sheriff Miedzinski). Sweater is recovered the following day in Hollywood, but it is washed, worn and turned into the Sheriff's Office a week later)
  • 50 clear prints found in the home. No records exist today.
  • a "nearly perfect palm print and fingerprints" are found on the foot of the Ragan bed, and a similar print is found "high on the wall of the bathroom." No records exist today.
  • Bedclothing and bloodstains and hair are sent to the FBI in Washington. No records exist today.
  • a slipper "kicked under the bed", another slipper lying beside the bed
  • a pajama button matching Henrietta's bedtime attire found on the floor
  • foam rubber caster under the bed was knocked loose
  • bed slightly askew
  • a religious item usually pinned to Henrietta's bedtime attire was found on the floor
  • pillow "jammed" against the headboard
  • front of Henrietta's pajamas were pulled up, the back of the pajamas were pulled down
  • little evidence of any struggle was found away from the bed
  • local funeral director tells Henrietta's brother her front teeth were knocked out, chewing gum used to hold her teeth back in
  • "Killer made an obvious effort to straighten the bed by pulling the covers up neatly." - Medical Examiner report