The former classmate of a teenage girl who died after an assault in the woods is now using the skills he honed as a police officer and private investigator to help her mom crack the decades-old murder mystery.
On July 24, 1975, Kathy Lynn Beatty, 15, was assaulted in the wooded area near the Aspen Hill K-Mart. She died in the hospital on Aug. 5. Steve Kerpelman was a classmate of Beatty’s at Parkland Middle school, which was then called Parkland Junior High School.
Kerpelman spent more than 20 years as a member of the Prince George’s County Police Department before establishing a private investigation firm, SMK Investigations, in Gambrills. For more than seven years, Kerpelman has been investigating Beatty’s death free of charge as a service to her mother, Patricia Haberman.
Earlier this year, police found a suspect in the death of the Lyon sisters, two girls who disappeared from the Wheaton area the same year.
“Over the years, whenever the police have looked at a suspect in the Lyon case, they’ve also looked at them for Kathy’s case,” Kerpelman said. “The indictment in the Lyon case doesn’t really change my perception of Kathy’s case, as I’ve always believed that it will be solved, but hopefully the indictment will make people realize that it’s never too late to resolve an unsolved case. I hope it will inspire them think back to that time and come forward with what they remember.”
Kerpelman’s firm is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the people who were with Beatty on the night of her death. This is in addition to any reward offered by the Montgomery County police or other law enforcement agencies. Several former friends and classmates of Beatty’s have assisted Kerpelman’s efforts. Many have helped to publicize the investigation by posting fliers or lawn signs referring passersby to the website dedicated to the case: www.kathybeatty.com.
“I think it’s possible that Kathy knew the person who killed her,” Kerpelman said. “It’s doubtful that she would have walked up there alone.”
Kerpelman stressed that any information regarding the case, however trivial it may seem, is useful to his investigation.
“People will sometimes call in and say ‘Well, I don’t know if this matters, but I remember that this guy used to hang out up there,’” Kerpelman said. “They don’t realize how grateful we are for any lead that we can follow up on. Even if the person they point us to turns out not to know anything, maybe he knows someone who does. We still want people to call with whatever information they have.”
Anyone with information regarding Beatty’s death is encouraged to email email@example.com or contact SMK Investigations at 240-304-8633.