Judge views tape of accused killer's interrogation
Mar. 17, 1999

by Frank Curreri

Staff Writer

Hadden Irving Clark says he remembers very little of the last day 6-year-old Michelle Dorr was seen alive.

More than 12 years later, the man facing murder charges against Dorr did not remember cutting his hand, although he received stitches at a hospital emergency room that day. Nor did he remember whether he was struck by a car during a one-hour bike ride to work that day -- something investigators have no reason to believe happened.

"I don't remember getting hit by a car," Clark told police during an interrogation videotaped last September. "I could have; I don't know."

Portions of the six-hour videotape were shown in Montgomery County Circuit Court last Thursday at a hearing to determine the tape's admissibility as evidence in Clark's upcoming trial.

Clark, 46, is charged with murdering Dorr, who had been staying with her father on Memorial Day in 1986. Dorr's father lived on Sudbury Drive in Silver Spring, two doors away from where Clark had been staying with relatives.

Despite exhaustive searches spanning three states, investigators still have not found the body of Dorr, who is presumed dead.

Clark -- who is serving a 30-year prison term after confessing to the 1992 stabbing death of 23-year-old Laura Houghteling of Bethesda -- has repeatedly denied being alone with Dorr at his brother's house on the day she vanished.

"No. No. It never happened, so I don't know what you're talking about," Clark, bald-headed with a goatee, told the two detectives who questioned him. "I was there by myself. I don't remember anyone else being there. As far as I knew I was there alone."

But detectives on the videotape told Clark his prison cellmates said he "used to brag about being a serial killer." Some of those former cellmates provided police with accurate and specific details of the Dorr case that they could not have known unless Clark confessed to them, the detectives asserted.

The cellmates also told police Clark cut Dorr's chest and throat with a 12-inch butcher knife at his brother's house, then placed her body in a plastic bag, which he placed inside a green duffel bag before carrying it to his truck. The cellmates said Clark boasted the "police will never find [her body]."

Clark, however, insists he never confided such information to jailhouse cellmates, whom he accused of spreading lies in the hopes of reducing their time in prison.

"They're talking a lot of s---," Clark said on the tape. "They don't know anything about my crime ... They think they do. I don't want inmates knowing all my business. ... Guys will say anything to get out of prison. That's the way guys are."

When his interrogators left the room for about a half-hour, Clark browsed through a copy of a police document charging him with Dorr's murder. On several occasions, he buried his head in his hands.

"Oh well," Clark mumbled to himself. "Going to court. F---. Take me to court, take me to court. ... Just a bunch of bulls---. [They're] trying to break me."

When the detectives returned to the room, apparently hoping Clark was ready to talk, he appeared noticeably distressed at times and repeatedly invoked his common refrain once more: "My lawyer told me don't talk to no one about the case."

Police interrogators eventually showed signs of frustration and indicated they thought Clark knew more about Dorr's disappearance than he was revealing.

"If you can remember a hammer your father gave you when you were a kid, then you can damn sure remember these things," one of the detectives said sternly to Clark. "You've got a very selective memory."

While mum about questions related to Dorr, Clark often digressed and talked freely about his childhood schooling and media coverage of his case. Clark, who often rode his bicycle to and from work, also had plenty to say about the hazards of bicycling on Montgomery County roads.

"I've been hit by cars many times," he said. "People don't understand that, how unsafe it is."

According to previous testimony from Clark's brother, Michele Dorr would occasionally come over to the Clark home and play with his young daughter and, sometimes, Hadden Clark.

A former member of the U.S. Navy who said he once lived in the woods for a prolonged period of time, Clark admitted he was moving some of his possessions from his brother's house on the day Dorr was last seen. Montgomery County Assistant State's Attorney Debra Dwyer, one of the prosecutors handling the case, said Clark worked as a cook at a country club at the time, and work logs confirm he reported to work that day. They also know Clark bought a sweater at a mall earlier that day.

But police investigators still do not know what happened to Michele Dorr.

"Some questions I'm not gonna answer," Clark said on the tape. "That's just the way it is."

Circuit Court Judge Paul H. Weinstein has not yet ruled on whether the videotaped interrogation will be admissible at Clark's trial. A ruling is expected next month.