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A Lexington Park man jailed last month in the beating death of a nurse along a jogging trail at a Laurel Grove park was indicted Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder, by grand jurors who also charged him with armed robbery and attempted first-degree rape.
John Morris Quade Jr., a 31-year-old convicted sex offender, remains jailed without bond on initial district court charging papers alleging he killed Moneta Jo Strickland on Aug. 8, and that he told police that he disposed of a blood-stained rock. The body of the 32-year-old MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital employee was found on Aug. 9 in woods along the trail.
The attempted rape charge was not included in initial charging papers filed against Quade.
“Evidence would suggest that was his motive,” St. Mary’s sheriff’s detective Capt. Terry Black said Thursday, adding that Quade and Strickland did not know each other.
“There was no indication that she was singled out,” Black said, until Quade “observed her coming into the park, leaving her vehicle and going on the trail.”
Quade was spotted on the trail by a male jogger who was behind Strickland, according to authorities, and the other jogger looked back and could no longer see Quade, before Strickland turned around and headed back in that direction. The jogger later saw Quade jump out of woods along the trail, not far from where Strickland was killed.
Authorities suspect that Quade snatched Strickland off the trail, and when they both fell down in the woods, he found the rock and beat her as she fought off his advances. Authorities report finding a blanket, change of clothes, binoculars, a knife and BB gun in Quade’s vehicle.
Quade, arrested five days later after police received numerous tips and reviewed surveillance video, told investigators that “he did not remember exactly what happened” to Strickland but admitted stealing her cellphone, district court charging papers state, a crime that authorities suspect was committed to prevent Strickland from possibly reporting the attempted sexual attack, if she had survived.
Quade told a court commisioner that he worked as a cook for a diner in southern Calvert County.
St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz (R) announced Wednesday that he will seek a penalty for Quade of life in prison without the possibility of parole if the suspect is convicted of first-degree murder.
As to the additional charge in the indictment, Fritz said Thursday, “I believe the evidence is sufficient to indicate an attempt to commit a rape in the first degree.”