DNA hit leads to charges in 2009 murder

Laurel police have charged a 44-year-old man with first-degree murder in the 2009 slaying of a Laurel man who was found beaten to death inside his townhouse, authorities said Thursday.

Laurel police obtained the warrant Wednesday, charging Clark McKnight with murder in the October 2009 slaying of 44-year-old Andrew Sparacino, authorities said. Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin said McKnight’s DNA was found at the crime scene. The 44-year-old already had been incarcerated in the federal system since December for a probation violation, court records show.

Laurel police found Sparacino’s body in mid-October 2009 after relatives called to say that he had not shown up to work at a local Verizon office and that they had been unable to reach him for several days. Investigators immediately spotted head trauma but were unsure initially whether someone had inflicted it or Sparacino had fallen.

The medical examiner ruled the case a homicide days later, saying Sparacino, who lived alone in the 16000 block of Dorset Drive, died from blunt force trauma to his head.

McLaughlin said that because there was no evidence of forced entry or robbery at the townhome, investigators believe McKnight and Sparacino probably knew one another, but they are still investigating the nature of their relationship. He said investigators are also still probing why McKnight would have wanted to kill Sparacino.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.

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