MIDDLETOWN, Md. (WJLA) — A Frederick County man strangled his wife to death, placed her body in a cardboard box and then discarded her remains in a wooded creek bed, authorities allege in court documents.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has charged Thomas Lehan, 37, of Middletown, with first-degree murder.
Around 6 p.m. Sunday, Thomas Lehan called 911 to report his wife, Katie Lehan, 34, had vanished. Patrol deputies responded to the Lehan home along the 200 block of Broad Street in Middletown.
“Thomas advised he, Katie and their 3yo song were at the residence having a ‘normal’ morning,” detectives wrote in their statement of charges, filed at nearly 10 p.m. Thursday. “Thomas advised Katie was upstairs taking a nap and woke up around [3 p.m.], came downstairs and ‘needed air’ and walked out the front door.”
Thomas Lehan claimed that around 5 p.m., he realized his wife had not returned home. She was without her purse and her cell phone appeared to be turned off. The 37-year-old claimed he and his 3-year-old son got in the car and drove along Lambs Knoll Road, a rural and remote area.
“Thomas did not call or text Katie to inquire about her whereabouts,” court documents highlight. “Detectives questioned why Thomas would search for Katie, who was not a hiker, in a remote mountainous area. Thomas could not provide an answer as to why he would have gone there.”
Thomas Lehan told investigators he continued driving around and was about to call his wife’s former employer, Brook Lane Health Services in Frederick. However, he instead called his mother-in-law. She instructed her son in law to call 911.
On Monday, search crews canvassed the area of Reno Monument Road, due northwest of Middletown. They came up empty-handed.
On Tuesday, investigators re-interview Thomas Lehan. He kept with his original depiction of events. Meanwhile, a cadaver dog, trained to detected human remains, made signals along Reno Monument Road.
“[It alerted] on a spot where it was apparent something was dragged for a distance and a spot where it appeared something had laid on the ground for a period of time, flattening the leaves,” charging documents state. “Search efforts [which included a helicopter] did not locate a body, however.”
On Thursday, Katie Lehan’s father called the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office with a bombshell revelation: his son-in-law had just confessed to murder by strangulation.
Thomas Lehan agreed to speak with detectives and offered up the “exact location” where his wife’s body could be found, according to the documents. It was in a wooded creek bed off Burkittsville Road, between the towns of Burkittsville and Brunswick.
The six-foot-four, 195-pound man allegedly stated he killed his wife inside their home on Sunday. He then placed her body in a cardboard box and drove it to a remote stretch of Lambs Knoll Road. Early Monday morning, Thomas Lehan returned to Lambs Knoll Road and moved his wife’s body to the creek bed, authorities allege.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office executed a search-and-seizure warrant at the Lehan’s Middletown residence where they uncovered undisclosed evidence. Investigators have not disclosed a motive.
Thomas Lehan is being held without bond at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. He faces up to one life term in prison.
Loved ones distributed hundreds of missing person fliers across Frederick County and created a Help Find Katie (Ward) Lehan Facebook page. As of Friday, it had 2,000 members and hundreds, if not thousands, of concerned comments. Some people offered to launch personal drones to help in the search while others gathered snacks for crews scouring the land.
“Please leave your outdoor porch lights on for Katie, front and backyards- may the lights lead her to a safe place,” one woman wrote on the page.
The banner photo on Katie Lehan’s Facebook page reads, “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”
Anyone with further information is asked to contact Detective Leveille at 301-600- 1046. Tips can also be left anonymously at 301-600-4131.
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Posted on March 27, 2020 at 3:04 pm