NEWARK, DEL., AUG. 11 -- A murder charge against a janitor who was imprisoned for more than 10 months in the slaying of a University of Maryland graduate student is being dismissed after it was determined that the only piece of evidence -- a single hair -- is not his.
Michael P. Lloyd, 28, who became a suspect in the shotgun slaying of Jane Marie Prichard after contacting police with what he thought might be important information, was freed Friday from Gander Hill Prison after posting bail, which had been set at $10,000.
State Attorney General Charles M. Oberly III said this afternoon the first-degree murder charge will be dropped within 24 hours.
Lloyd, a Newark resident who worked for a chemical company, said he won't be giving police information again. "I would never make that mistake again," he said. "My advice is, 'don't get involved.' "
Prichard, 28, who lived in the upper Montgomery County town of Clarksburg, was found shot to death and partly unclothed Sept. 19 in Delaware's Blackbird State Forest where she often did field work. She was studying the hog peanut, a viney plant whose leaves turn to follow the sun, as part of her studies for a master's degree in botany.
It was the opening day of the squirrel-hunting season, and Lloyd, who had been hunting in the forest, said he gave police the description of a man he had seen there. "I thought it was my civic duty," Lloyd said.
He went to the scene with police and reenacted his movements. The investigators called him every day for a week. When he told them he felt harassed, they told him he was no longer a suspect, Lloyd said. A few days later, he was arrested.
One time police officers asked if his mind might have suppressed something he didn't want to remember. He told them that was the only way it could have happened, he said, "but I know consciously I did not do it."
Deputy Attorney General Timothy H. Barron said Monday that the results of new tests conducted on the evidence in the case, a single pubic hair found at the scene of the slaying, were received Thursday.
The tests, conducted in California by one of the two experts in the world capable of conducting them, determined that the hair did not belong to Lloyd.
Barron said it was his duty as a prosecutor "to do justice and with this finding of the expert, justice requires the state not to proceed with insufficient evidence. Needless to say, I am very disappointed."
The prosecutor said the woman's family also was disappointed, but they understood and did not want an innocent man convicted.
Lloyd called his time at the prison the "most degrading and humiliating experience of my life."
Lloyd, a member of the Tabernacle of the Bride, a small church near Bear, Del., credits his survival to his faith in God and frequent prayers.
He said he lost everything after his arrest, including his job and his apartment.
The prison's constant lock-downs, crowding, a four-day period when there was no water and the stench of toilets that didn't work are memories that contribute to his bitterness, Lloyd said.
He said it feels good to be out, but he's still adjusting. "When I first got out I had to pinch myself," he said. He was hoping for release when it came over the loudspeakers. "Bag and baggage. Yeah, Mike, you're getting out of here.
"It wasn't till Sunday when I drove my truck that it finally dawned on me. Yeah. I'm out."