After a store clerk is murdered, a man phones a call-in crime tip line and confesses to the killing.

Tracey Kirkpatrick

A security guard found Tracey’s body


In early 1989, Tracey Kirkpatrick was a quiet teenager in the small town of Frederick, Maryland. Her passion was writing poetry. As her mother Diane explains, it got her through tough times:

“She expressed her feelings through her writing. She wrote a lot of lonely poems. She was very intelligent. She was a hard worker. She loved people and she loved to be around people. And she loved to have a lot of friends and everything.”

“Don” called to confess

During Tracey’s senior year in high school, she worked two part-time jobs, one of them as a sales clerk in a clothing store. On the night of March 15th, 1989, Tracey was assigned to close the store and add up the day’s receipts. Fifteen minutes before closing time, she was alone. It was 8:45 P.M.

Two hours later, a security guard noticed that the lights were still on in the store and that the front door was unlocked. When the guard called out, he got no response. He went in to investigate. In a back storage room, he found Tracey’s lifeless body and called the police.

At about the same time, Tracey’s parents were on their way to the mall. It was nearly 11 P.M. and Tracy was more than an hour late coming home. Tracey’s mother arrived to see police at the scene:

“I said, ‘Is she alright, can I see her?’ And when he shook his head no, I just blocked out everything. I didn’t want to hear the rest of what was going to be said to me. Did someone have it against her so much that they would do something like that to her? She never did anything to hurt anybody.”

Police found no motive for Tracey’s murder and detectives were baffled. Then, three months later, they got their first break: a phone call recorded by a nationwide confession hotline:  “Hello, my name is Don and I’m calling from Frederick, Maryland. I know this is going to sound surprising, but three months ago, I stabbed a girl to death and you might think that in making this tape, I’m setting myself up to be caught, but there are a lot of guys named Don in Frederick.”

“Sean” sent a psychic newspaper clippings

The confession hot-line staff sent the tip to Frederick police. Cpl. Barry Horner remembers the call:

“The sincerity that I heard in that voice and the knowledge that the person was displaying, talking about what he had done, at that point convinced me that I probably was listening to the killer.”

Cpl. Horner played the rest of the tape for his chief: “The girl I killed was working in a ladies sportswear store. I often came by and talked to her when she was working alone, and one night when she was in the storeroom and we were talking, our conversation turned into an argument. And so I took out a knife I have with me at all times, and I killed her. And a few days later, I realized I had created a lot of sadness, and I thought about turning myself in to the police. But whatever they do to me, that won’t bring Tracey back. So, I’ve decided that I better keep free because we have the death penalty in Maryland. Thanks for listening. I’m sorry about what I did, but nothing can change it. Bye.”

Was “Sean” or “Don” the killer?

The police traced the call back to a supermarket 8 miles away in Walkersville, Maryland. Cpl Horner thinks this was significant:

“If it was the killer, he wanted to be caught. And he was seeking help through this hotline.” 

Two weeks later, on October 24, Frederick police received another phone call. This time it was a woman named Martha Woodworth. She told police she was a psychic and had been contacted by a young man who identified himself only as “Sean.” Woodworth told police that Sean had contacted her repeatedly. He was obsessed with finding the person who had murdered Tracey. She asked Sean for more information and he eventually sent her some newspaper clippings about the crime:

“When I received the envelope with his handwriting on the outside, I thought this person has a much stronger involvement than just being a friend who’s interested. I found the handwriting extremely disturbing. So I felt it was my responsibility to alert the police that I had a potential suspect for them.”

Chief Ashton played the confession tape for Martha to see if she could recognize the voice. She knew it immediately:

“I knew it was Sean. In fact, my heart dropped. It was very chilling to hear the voice of the person I’d been speaking to for months actually confessing to the crime.”

Police followed the return address on Sean’s envelope to Walkersville, Maryland. It was the same town where the call-in confession had come from. The young man living at the address was not named Sean or Don, though he had sent the clippings.

Police still didn’t have enough evidence to charge the young man from Walkersville. They asked a local DJ to broadcast the confession tape. Three people called in to say they knew the voice. They all provided the identical name, a name the police recognized as the young man from Walkersville who had sent the newspaper clippings. Police searched his home for evidence the next day. Cpl. Horner:

“Unfortunately, the evidence was examined and re-examined and we were unable to confirm that he was either at the crime scene that night or had any particular part in this criminal act.”

In the end, the young man pleaded the fifth and refused to answer any questions. Tracey’s mother hasn’t entirely given up hope:

“There has to be someone who’s seen something, someone coming from that store, running from that store or leaving that store orwho heard something.” 


The man who called himself Don and Sean has been cleared as a suspect. No one has ever been arrested for Tracey’s murder and the case remains open and unsolved.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and in season seven with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.




  1. Avatar


    I believe it was most likely the Security Guard, Don Barnes, Jr. I think that there’s enough circumstantial evidence to prove it that wasn’t presented in the Unsolved Mysteries episode along with new evidence that has come forth since it’s airing:

    1. Don Barnes, Jr. had a roommate at the time named “Sean” which would give into Sean’s obsession with the case and him saving newspaper clippings about it since he knew the actual killer. Sean knew he couldn’t go the police so he sought other avenues.

    2. Don Barnes, Jr. was the son of the Sheriff at the time which would lead many people to believe that his father and fellow officers would cover up for him.

    3. Don Barnes, Jr. cannot account for the time between 9:00 pm when he noticed the store’s light on and 10:30 pm when he went into the store and discovered her body.

    4. At a later date it was revealed by the daughter of Don Barnes, Jr. that she believed he killed her based off of conversations she heard him have while growing up. She also said that during his unaccounted for hour and a half time lapse that he went to his wife’s house, whom he was separated from, to change into a new uniform which would explain why there was no blood on his clothes. She also said Barnes was 25 at the time and was into younger women.

    5. The Westridge Shopping Mall which she was killed at and Don Barnes , Jr. was a security guard at was not that large. It’s part of the Golden Mile in Frederick and I have been to many times. He could’ve walked that whole strip close to 20 times within an hour and a half which leads me to question why he didn’t check on Tracey much earlier. Either he wasn’t doing his job or he was up to something.

    6. The killer supposedly escaped through the back door but there’s been no evidence provided that he did unless the door was left open. My guess is if that information was provided by Barnes’ testimony then that was an error on his part but his testimony has yet to be released.

    7. Several people have contacted the Frederick Police Department in regards to new information on the case they discovered only to have no return calls, leading me to believe it’s still a cover up.

    8. Not long after the murder did Barnes move to Egypt, and then Florida where he currently resides.

    9. Tracey Kirkpatrick was spotted several times along throughout the night (one by a friend and another by her mother) and the only person who was constantly there was Barnes. How did he not notice anything? The shopping center then was not a busy place at the time, nor still is.

    10. Tracy Kirkpatrick was stabbed in the back in the backroom. There was no sign of struggle so she must’ve known the assailant and was comfortable enough with him to leave the store front to go in the back.

    11. Barnes, Jr. and Tracey Kirkpatrick obviously knew each other since they both worked in the same area and other store clerks have witnessed them speaking to one another. She got back with her boyfriend the day before she was murdered so Barnes, Jr. must have found out that night she was working and subsequently killed her in a “heat of passion” moment once she told him the news because of his advances on her. Keep in mind he was separated and single at the time.

    12. The lead investigator, Honer, admitted to botching the crime scene and not being thorough which would certainly help the case of destroying evidence that could link Barnes, Jr. to the crime since his father was the Sheriff and Honer’s boss.

    13. It was common knowledge around members of the community in Frederick that Barnes, Jr, was the murderer but because of his father’s status he would never be indicted.

    14. An investigator of the case back in 1994 said that he believes the killer was a fellow high school student from Brunswick where she attended school. He said there was enough evidence to indicted him but not convict him which is why nothing has happened. My problem is why haven’t they issued any of their evidence on this supposed fellow classmate so that maybe others that knew him could come forward with their knowledge. They won’t even release the man’s name. No one that knew her from Brunswick has come forth even speculating a fellow classmate.

    It all leads back to Don Barnes, Jr.


  2. Avatar


    Why couldn’t they just have watched the security cameras


  3. Avatar


    strange to me this man does all this ‘confessing’ and stuff, but in the end they clear him for not enough evidence. clearly he knows every detail about this murder and has info on it. I wonder why they cleared him.

    he at least has connections to the who killed her. maybe the security guard is involved.

    very interesting case


  4. Avatar


    Does anyone knows what the guy look like that called in. I think I was at that shopping center that night. If I still can remember.


  5. Avatar

    Chloe A.S.

    The security guard killed her. Fact.


  6. Avatar


    Don, Shawn character actually knows what happened because he knows the killer.He decided to plead the fifth. Look into it


  7. Avatar


    When the man called to confessed he said he use to come in to the store and talk to Trcey when she was alone !!! They problaby got him on camera ???????


    • Avatar


      Since her murder has gone unsolved this long, y guess is that there were either no cameras, or no footage of the killer.


  8. Avatar


    She’s So Beautiful May God Bless Her! And She Is Up There In heaven Looking Down on That Killer! Eventually The Killer Will Have A Gutily Feeling! Be At Ease Mrs Kerpatrick God Will Surely Come to Your Aid!


  9. Avatar

    sara c.

    I agree on that women should not work in isolated quiet night jobs too dangerous in this time and age. Tracy’s murder does not make sense from all the clues ive read.theres a skeleton waiting to be discovered, hope a smart persistent bad ass detective takes on this case to find that skeleton.


  10. Avatar


    A lot of time and money is wasted on leading people on to look in the wrong direction while the guilty get away. Planet earth is a hell hole. Women don’t belong working in unsafe environments at night. Predators are everywhere and they know where to look to pick out their next living toy to gratify their obsessions and fantasies. Accidents will happen. Love is not always mutual. In fact love is a rare gift.


  11. Avatar


    What I don’t get is what happened to them suspecting this Shawn guy. Why was he cleared if it was found out he made the call. Was it a hoax?


    • Avatar

      Chloe Aaron

      That’s what I’m wondering. Too bad they don’t tell us those things. I mean, 90% of the story is about this guy. And suddenly he’s not even a suspect anymore?? I don’t get it. WHY is he no longer a suspect? Surely they can tell us that.


  12. Avatar


    I understand that the Security Guard on duty (at the plaza) was the son of the Frederick County Sheriff and possibly had a romantic interest with the victim (though the SG was married with kids) Was an autopsy done? Was the victim expecting? I also understand the S.G. move south after the murder.


    • Avatar

      Chloe A.S.

      Are you sure that the security guard is the son?
      Because they claim that due to politics, etc they can’t convict this person they are certain is the killer. Nice.
      Here’s the article I read:

      Retired Frederick Police Department Cpl. Bob Servacek is convinced he knows who killed Tracey Kirkpatrick.
      “The case was solved in 1994,” Servacek said. “As far as I was concerned.”

      Based on circumstantial evidence, he believes more than enough evidence exists for an arrest and a conviction. He believes a friend of the 17-year-old Brunswick High student killed her.

      “What derailed the process was politics and personal agendas,” Servacek said. “Certain individuals did not do their jobs and derailed the case.”

      He did not wish to elaborate.

      Servacek took over the case in 1992 from retiring Cpl. Barry Horner, who was the first detective assigned to the investigation.

      While most investigators had 12 to 14 cases to work on, the Kirkpatrick case was Servacek’s sole responsibility for one year, 1994.

      “Ninety-nine point nine percent of my day was working on the Tracey Kirkpatrick case,” Servacek said. “It was probably the most sophisticated case I was associated with.”
      While police still have two persons of interest, Servacek said he is convinced only one is the killer.


    • Avatar


      Yes that is true the s.g that was the son of the chief I believe back then did in fact leave Frederick county. I had been told by my mother who knew this s.g from driving a school bus back then. That he would come up to my moms bus when she was sitting waiting to pick kids up an talk to her. She swears to this day that it was his voice on the phone call recording.


  13. Avatar


    Have you by chance looked into the highway 70 murders for a connection by chance?


  14. Avatar


    How about the guy that they got for the Stacie Hoffmaster murder. Just a thought or suggestions tPbrH


  15. Avatar


    knows something. PM me.


  16. Avatar


    go back andtalk to theofficer that was firstthere


  17. Avatar




    • Avatar


      to clean up acrime go scene the night it happen just was wrong Ithingto do Ithinktheyneedtogoback and talkto first police that was there


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In the event we determine the occurrence of a data security incident, we will notify you by email, US mail, telephone, or other means as permitted by law.

If you have questions, comments, or complaints concerning our privacy practices or if you wish to change, access, or remove your Personal Data, please contact us as indicated below.  We will attempt, where practical, to respond to your requests and to provide you with additional privacy related information.

Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. is the owner of this Website and retains all ownership rights to the information collected at this Website. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. reserves the right to change, modify, add, or remove provisions of this Privacy Statement. Any changes to this Privacy Statement will be posted here, and we encourage you to check back from time to time. In addition, Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. will notify registered users of changes as they occur.

We allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you. These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information. To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice or to opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit Your use of the site constitutes your agreement to accept cookies, beacons and third-party advertising. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for third-party ads.

ARTICLE 1. Personalization
1.1 We may use the contact information you give us to better tailor your Website experience to your interests, and to send you information about Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. and its services as well as promotional material on behalf of some of our partners. We may use other information that you provide to us to show you content in which you may be interested and to display the content according to your preferences. We will also share this information within Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. in order to enhance your experience on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. Websites.
1.2 In addition, we may share this information with advertisers or other third parties that are not part of the Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. family on an aggregate or other basis that does not disclose your identity or contact information.

ARTICLE 2. Online Surveys/Contests
2.1 From time to time, we may conduct online surveys and contests. These may ask you for contact information (like name or email address) and demographic information (like zip code or age).
2.2 We may use this contact information from our surveys and contests to provide you with information about our company and promotional material on behalf of some of our partners, and to contact you when necessary.

ARTICLE 3. Shopping/Commercial Services
3.1 This Website may offer shopping services, which may be offered by us or by a firm that operates a store under contract with us. If our Website offers shopping or other commercial services, you will use a customer order form to request information, products, and services. The order form will ask you to give us contact information (like name or email address), financial information (like account or credit card numbers), and demographic information (like zip code or age).

3.2 We will use the financial information that you provide to bill you for products and services. By giving our Website your credit card and related personal information, you are authorizing our store to give that information to the merchant and credit card company in order to confirm and fulfill your order.

3.3 We will use contact information from the order form to fulfill your orders. We may also use contact data to get in touch with you when necessary. We will not otherwise use or distribute your financial information without your prior approval.

ARTICLE 4. Public forums
4.1 This Website may make available chat rooms, blogs, forums, message boards, and news groups. Please remember that any information that you disclose in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information. Information disclosed by you or by others enters the public domain and may be freely used by any other persons or entities using the site.

ARTICLE 5. Information Sharing With Third Parties
5.1 From time to time we may enter into a special relationship with another company that is not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. to provide additional features at this Website. These special relationships may include “powered by” partners, business partners, sponsors, and co-branded sites (referred to here as “co-branded pages”). These might include, for example, pages that share our name and that of another entity. You should look for a specific privacy statement on any such co-branded page. Any personal information that you provide when signing up at one of those co-branded pages may be shared with our third party partner. You should also check our partner’s website for information regarding its privacy policies.

5.2 Also, the nature of some features of our Website may require that we share personal information about you with persons or companies outside of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. For example, this may occur at a feature that enables you, via our Website, to ask questions of persons or entities that are not part of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. By responding to those features of the site, whether by email or direct entry of information on our Website, you are consenting to our transferring that information to such persons or entities.

5.3 With respect to specific registration modules, like contests, we may disclose personal information collected, and we may post a conspicuous statement on the registration module to the effect that we will be disclosing the information collected with third parties.

5.4 Finally, we may share any of the information collected from you with these other non- Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc companies in an aggregate basis. The aggregated information is not linked to any information that can identify you.

ARTICLE 6. IP Address and Log Files
6.1 We may use your IP address to administer our Website, to help diagnose problems with our server, to analyze trends, to track users’ webpage movements, to help identify you and your shopping cart, and to gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.

ARTICLE 7. Cookies
7.1 This Website may use a standard technology called a “cookie” to collect information about how you use the Website. Cookies reside on your computer and help our Website to recognize your computer’s browser as a previous visitor. This information allows us to customize delivery of information. For example, our Website may use cookies to save and remember registration information or preferences that you may have set while browsing the Website, to keep track of your shopping cart, to ensure you don’t see the same ad content repeatedly, to deliver content specific to your interests, and to save your password so you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit our site. We use cookies only to gather information as indicated in this policy.

7.2 In addition, on occasion our site may also set a “session cookie” which helps us administer the Website. The session cookie expires when you close your browser and does not retain any information about you after it expires.

7.3 Finally, we may also use an ad network provider to help present advertisements on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. websites. This ad network provider, like other advertising service vendors, uses cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies on the hard drive of your computer to serve you advertisements tailored to interests you have shown by browsing on this and other sites you have visited, and to determine whether you have seen a particular advertisement before and to avoid sending you duplicate advertisements. In doing so, the provider collects non-personal data such as your browser type, your operating system, web pages visited, time of visits, content viewed, ads viewed, and other clickstream data. The use of cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies by these ad network providers is subject to their own privacy policies, not ours, and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the collection or use of such information.

ARTICLE 8. Banner Advertising
8.1 We have contracted with an ad-service to place banner advertising on our Website. All of the data provided and generated by the ad-server software remains in our possession. This feature of our Website may, on occasion, set “cookies” on your computer. Any information collected or stored by the ad-service or the cookies is treated in the same manner as other information described in this statement.

ARTICLE 9. Children’s Personal Information
9.1 Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act:

9.1.1 This site does NOT collect, use, or disclose personal information (including online contact information) of children under the age of thirteen (13).

9.1.2 In the event that a child under the age of 13 attempts to register on our site, we will NOT accept the registration and will delete information received from the child.

9.1.3 In the event that a child posts personal information in a public forum such as a chat room, we will attempt to delete that information once we become aware of it.

ARTICLE 10. Security of Your Personal Information
10.1 Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for information collected through this Website. We believe that we have adequate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information we collect on our Website. We also use internal protections to limit access to users’ personal information to only those employees who need the information to perform a specific job.

ARTICLE 11. Sale or Merger
11.1 If this Website is sold to, or merges with, another company not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc., you should expect that some or all of the information collected from this Website may be transferred to the buyer/surviving company. If so, CMP will seek to obligate the acquiring company to use any personal information transferred by this Website in a manner consistent with this statement, but cannot guarantee that it will be able to impose that requirement or that the acquiring company will comply.

ARTICLE 12. Legal Process
12.1 You should be aware that Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. may be required to disclose your personal information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances, such as in court or regulatory proceedings.

ARTICLE 13.  Contacting the Website

13.1        If you have any questions about this Privacy Statement, the practices of this Website, or your dealings with this Website, please contact us at:

ARTICLE 14.  general information

14.1        Choice of Law:  This Agreement and the Additional Terms shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California , as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such state, without regard to conflict of law principles.

14.2        Choice of Forum:  You agree that any cause of action you or Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. brings to enforce this Agreement and/or the Additional Terms, or in connection with any matters related to this Website and/or the Privacy Statement, shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America in accordance with the commercial rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, who shall be a retired judge, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator’s decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this agreement and any other agreements I may enter into with you, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys’ fees.  Each party expressly waives any right to a jury.  Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

14.4        If any provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or for any reason unenforceable then such provision shall be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that matches, as closely as possible, the original provision, and the other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.  The failure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.  Unless expressly provided otherwise, this Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. with respect to the use of this Website and shall not be modified except in writing, signed by an authorized representative of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc.

ARTICLE 15.  European Union and Other Foreign Nations

15.1        This Website is governed by and operated in accordance with the laws of United States of America and is intended for enjoyment of residents of the United States.  Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. makes no representation that this Website is governed by or operated in accordance with the laws of other nations.  By using this Website and submitting any personal information, visitors from outside of the United States acknowledge this Website is subject to U.S. law, consent to the transfer of personal data to the U.S., and waive any claims that may arise under their own national laws.