Maryland police crack 51-year cold case murder of sheriff’s captain with arrest of New York man under new name


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Maryland police announced Wednesday that they closed a 51-year-old cold case murder of a sheriff’s captain found shot to death lying face down in a pool of his own blood in a country club parking lot. 

Montgomery County Department of Police said they revisited the October 23, 1971, shooting of Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Capt. James Tappen Hall last year on the 50th anniversary of the homicide, and investigators honed in on a man who had been living in New York for over 45 years under a changed name. 

When confronted by cold case detectives, Larry David Smith, also known as Larry David Becker, allegedly admitted to shooting and killing Hall more than five decades ago when he was around 20 years old. The now 71-year-old waived his extradition and is expected to return to Maryland by the end of the week.

To date, Hall’s case is the oldest cold case solved by the Montgomery County Department of Police. 

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Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Captain James Tappen Hall.

Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Captain James Tappen Hall.
(Montgomery County Police)

On Saturday, October 23, 1971, at approximately 10:40 p.m., Montgomery County police officers were called to the Manor Country Club in the 14900 block of Carrolton Rd. in Rockville, Maryland, after witnesses reported a man lying face down in the southeast parking lot.

Officers arrived at the scene and located Hall suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to an area hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries three days later. 

Larry David Smith was arrested for the 1971 killing Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Captain James Tappen Hall, 

Larry David Smith was arrested for the 1971 killing Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Captain James Tappen Hall, 
(Montgomery County Police)

Investigators believe that Hall interrupted a residential burglary in progress.

In the nearly a year since Montgomery County police’s cold case unit revisited Hall’s murder, Det. K. Leggett and Cpl. L. Killen combed through case files, recordings and interviewed witnesses, the department said. Through their investigation, Leggett and Killen narrowed in on one person, Larry David Becker. 

Larry David Smith in 1973 mugshot. 

Larry David Smith in 1973 mugshot. 
(Montgomery County Police)

In 1973, Becker was interviewed by investigators but had not been labeled a suspect.

Detectives determined that around 1975, Becker began using the last name Smith and had been living in Little Falls, New York, for over 45 years. 

Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Captain James Tappen Hall in family photo with cake. 

Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Captain James Tappen Hall in family photo with cake. 
(Montgomery County Police)

Leggett and Killen interviewed Smith in New York on Sept. 1. During that interview, Smith allegedly admitted to shooting Hall, so detectives applied for and received an arrest warrant charging him with murder. Smith was then arrested in New York and awaits extradition. 

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The department said the investigation is ongoing, and detectives ask anyone with information regarding Smith’s involvement in the homicide to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070 or contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous.   



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