This Case Hasn’t Been Solved For 53 Years And Counting

 

 

On a rainy evening in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1971, one of the police department’s Captains was  brutally killed.

This captain was James Tappen Hall. He was known for his unwavering dedication, commendable service, and exemplary courage.

Hall was in the parking lot of the Manor Country Club, which is located in Aspen Hill, Maryland, at the time of his murder. While Hall was on a shift doing security, the drink machines inside the country club were broken into. Hall tried to arrest the robbers but was shot in the back of the  by the perpetrators.

Thankfully, Hall was not dead at the scene. He was immediately rushed to Montgomery General Hospital about 16 minutes away. The doctors tried to save him for three days, however nothing worked. Hall was sadly pronounced dead three days later. This does not explain how the case took so long to be solved.

I decided to present the case to police officer  in hopes of understanding why the case remained unsolved for an extended period. Officer Fink, who serves Prince William County Police Department and is a School Resource Officer for Patriot High School, stated how, “A lot of times there’s no new leads to follow-up on; if there is stuff to follow up on, people could either lie about it because they could be part of the guilty reason of how the case happened.”

Usually,  However, the reason for the Montgomery County Department of Police (MCPD) was different. Since this was the only unsolved case for the MCPD; when the 50th anniversary for this cold case  happened, the detectives from the MCPD’s Cold Case Unit made a pledge to try and solve this case once and for all. This was  very hard for the MCPD to do. The case was over 50 years old, there were no new leads, no new suspects, nothing, which is extremely common for cold cases.

How the MCPD Decided to Act and the Result

The Detectives from the Cold Case Unit had put out a video onto Facebook, asking if anyone knew any more information, and asked for tips. Surprisingly, they received a lot of valuable feedback from the community. Some of the feedback included suggestions to review the information again and comments stating how much people had missed James Tappen Hall.

Other than that, the detectives had found an audio tape, which the FBI had transcribed to find out that there was a man talking about what happened that night. What was said on the audio tape has not been released to the public, therefore it is still unknown. However, what is known is that the man depicted on the audio tape was named Larry David Smith.

The audio tape found was one of the main pieces of evidence. The MCPD went to go speak to Larry David Smith about the tape, and he ended up confessing to killing Captain James Tappen Hall. At the time of the murder, he was 22, and one of the main suspects. Although he was the main suspect at the time, there was just not enough evidence.

When the MCPD found Larry in Little Falls in 2022, they arrested him immediately in New York and transported him back to Maryland the following week.

After he was transported back to Maryland, he was held without bond pending trial. This trial was held to begin in March 2023. Although the trial was going smoothly, the jury being hung had put a stop to that. This resulted in having to find a new jury, which will take place June 17, 2024.

Hopefully the re-trial will finally bring Captain James Tappen Hall justice.

What was Learned From this Case?

This case remains as a chilling reminder that cold cases can be agonizingly long. It assists in reminding the community of how working with the police can save and help many lives. Reflecting on this closure shows that a case can always be solved. Captain Hall’s case is the oldest cold case that was ever solved by the MCPD.

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