Persistence and Perseverance, a DNA Match, and the Combined Efforts of Multiple Law Enforcement Agencies and Forensic Science Partnerships Bring Justice to Family
Charles County, MD…Sheriff Troy D. Berry has announced an arrest has been made in the death of Vickie Lynn Belk who was found murdered 44-years-ago in a wooded area on Metropolitan Church Road in Bryans Road, MD. “This case occurred more than four decades ago and yet the detectives and forensics personnel never gave up. They continuously looked for ways to identify a suspect. This arrest serves as a reminder of our commitment to doing everything we can to solve crimes. We never give up. We never stop seeking justice for victims,” said Sheriff Berry. The facts of the case are as follows:
On Tuesday, August 28, 1979, Vickie Lynn Belk was reported missing to the Prince George’s County Police Department by her then boyfriend. The two had last seen each other the day before at the Department of Agriculture where they both worked. Belk never returned to her apartment in Suitland, MD.
On Wednesday, August 29, at 7 p.m., a local teenager was riding his bike in the area of Metropolitan Church Road and Route 227 when he noticed a body on the ground in a wooded area, about 20 feet off of the roadway. He went home and called 9-1-1. Officers from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office arrived and determined the case appeared to be a murder.
On August 30, detectives positively identified the woman as Vickie Lynn Belk. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore ruled the cause of death a gunshot wound.
During the initial investigation, investigators were proactive in recovering, processing and maintaining evidence. Investigators worked with allied agencies and forensics labs, pursuing leads; however, the case eventually went cold.
In the years that followed and as time moved forward, several detectives, many who have since retired, worked the case. Over the last several years, Detective Sergeant John Elliott of the CCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division continued the investigation and worked with various agencies, pursuing all leads to no avail. As forensic technology advanced, the evidence in Belk’s homicide continued to be re-examined – a measure of commitment between the detectives and forensic personnel, who continuously review cold cases to assess if evidence can be re-evaluated using new technology.
In early 2022, the CCSO’s Forensic Science Section re-evaluated evidence in Vickie’s case. Her clothing was submitted for testing using newer technology and a profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which is a national DNA database.
On November 1, 2022, Noelle Gehrman, Deputy Director of the CCSO’s Forensic Science Section, was notified of a DNA match between the profiles developed from the evidence obtained from the Belk case and convicted offender, Andre Taylor, 62, of Washington, D.C.
Upon receiving the match, detectives began investigating Taylor’s background and his ties to Bryans Road, MD. Detectives learned Taylor’s DNA was added to the national database after he was arrested for violent crimes that occurred in Washington, D.C. Further, Taylor’s address on arrest records from the 1980s showed he lived at a residence in Bryans Road, MD – an address that was less than four miles from where Vickie was found.
Once Taylor was identified, investigators began trying to locate him; however, he had no known address since 2019. Detectives worked with law enforcement partners at the United States Homeland Security Investigations, DC Metropolitan Police Department Homicide, and the U.S. Secret Service Baltimore Field Office, who assisted investigators throughout the investigation and helped obtain a search warrant for his DNA. Based on the collaborative efforts, and after months of trying to locate Taylor, investigators found him in Washington, D.C.
On June 16, the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office presented the case to a Charles County Grand Jury which indicted Taylor on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree rape, and second-degree rape. On June 22, Taylor, who was living in Washington, D.C., was arrested by detectives assigned to the CCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division, CCSO’s Warrant / Fugitive Unit the United States Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, and members of the Metropolitan Police Department. He was taken to a detention facility in Washington D.C. On June 27, Taylor waived extradition and was transported to the Charles County Detention Center where he was charged. Taylor is currently being held without bond.
In 1979, Vickie Belk was 28-years-old and Andre Taylor was 18-years-old. A review of the original report and investigative efforts since 1979 showed there is no information to indicate Andre Taylor and Vickie Belk knew each other. The circumstances of the crimes in which Taylor was arrested in Washington D.C. are not similar to the Belk murder. At this time, Taylor has not been linked to other cases.
The CCSO would like to acknowledge the following agencies who, individually and collectively, contributed to the identification and arrest in this case:
- Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division;
- BODE Technology;
- Sorenson Forensics;
- Metropolitan Police Department Washington, D.C.;
- United States Department of Homeland Security;
- United States Secret Service;
- United States Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Task Force;
- Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office
*Funding for the DNA analysis was paid, in part, by the Department of Justice Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
About Vickie Belk:
At the time of her death, Vickie was survived by her son, Lamont, who was 7-years-old; five siblings: Judy, Lonnie Jr., Kay, Aprile, and Granada and her parents, Maydell and Lonnie Sr., who have since passed away.
Growing up, Vickie attended Minnie Howard Elementary School and graduated from T. C. Williams High School in 1969. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education in 1974 from St. Augustine College in Raleigh, NC and she was a Management Analyst in the Office of Operations and Finance in the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. She was a member of the Oakland Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.
After her tragic murder, the Belk family initiated a scholarship to honor Vickie. The Vickie Belk Foundation was created to not only honor Vickie but to provide scholarships in her memory. The role of the Foundation is to assist in raising funds for graduating seniors at Oakland Baptist Church (OBC) and provide opportunities that continue the legacy of Vickie Lynn Belk. Approximately 100 scholarships have been awarded to the graduates of OBC. Through this scholarship, Vickie’s love for education and the youth of OBC continues.
“Nearly 44-years ago, our family lost Vickie Lynn Belk, a beloved mother, sister and friend to a tragic and heinous crime. The news of the grand jury returning an indictment for the individual responsible for Vickie’s death and an arrest in her murder begins the long-awaited process of justice finally being served. We are grateful for the tireless efforts of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office detectives and the forensics personnel who never ceased seeking justice on Vickie’s behalf. And we extend our thanks to the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office for their commitment and prosecution of Vickie’s case,” said Kay Belk, Vickie’s sister.
CCSO’s Commitment to the Pursuit of Justice:
The CCSO is committed to pursuing justice for victims. Anyone with information about a crime may contact the agency directly at 301-932-2222. Tipsters who want to remain anonymous may contact Charles County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS. To learn more about the Agency’s efforts to solve crimes, click this link: CCSO’s commitment to Pursuit of Justice.
*Grant Information: FY2022 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program – Local Solicitation, Charles County Cold Case Program, 15PBJA-22-GG-02416-JAGX.
The CCSO was accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) in 2001 and has since earned the highest rating of Excellence. Established in 1658, the CCSO is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the United States. For more information, visit www.ccso.us.
Charles County Crime Solvers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest or indictment of a person responsible for a crime in Charles County. All individuals who provide tips through Crime Solvers will remain anonymous. Anyone with information about an unsolved crime or the location of a fugitive may contact Charles County Crime Solvers by calling 1-866-411-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted online at www.charlescountycrimesolvers.com or by using the P3Intel mobile app, which can be found in the Android Store and Apple store by searching P3tips. For more information about the P3 program, click on this link: www.p3intel.com.
CONTACT: Diane Richardson
Media Relations Office
301-609-6557 or 240-682-1658