A Murder at Penn State; The case of Dana Bailey

 

This March marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of 21 year-old Penn State student, Dana Bailey. As if her murder itself wasn’t mysterious enough, the case would see twists, turns, and dead ends along with mysteries within the mystery.

 

On March 5th,1987 Shirley Bailey went to visit her daughter Dana at the apartment she lived in off campus at Penn State University. There was nothing that could have prepared Mrs. Bailey for the horrors awaiting her upon entering Dana’s apartment. Sprawled on the floor on top of some bedding, was Dana’s nude and lifeless body. Dana had been repeatedly stabbed and rope bindings remained on her. The scene must have been unimaginably horrible for her poor mother.

Police investigators arrived at the scene and immediately found clues. The weapon used to kill Dana was a butcher knife that belonged to her. She was blindfolded. The stab wounds had been to her chest and breasts. Investigators determined that Dana had been likely killed in her bed, and then her body staged on the floor on top of bedding. It was posed in a sexually suggestive way, almost as if it was on display. Although there was a sexual aspect of the murder, neither rape nor robbery seemed to be a motive. Dana’s engagement ring remained on her finger. The detectives turned their attention to the likely point of entry, the window. The believe that her murderer stood on something enabling him to reach up to Dana’s elevated window and simply opened it and climbed in surprising Dana as she slept. Next, the Detectives took notice of the way her body was displayed and noticed that her body was in perfect view of a rooftop location across the alleyway. It seemed possible that the killer displayed Dana’s body and then admired his handy-work from across the way. Additionally, there was an abandoned apartment undergoing renovations across the alleyway in which the killer may have stalked Dana from before or after the crime.

There were no strong persons of interest and the seeming lack of a motive set off a wave of fear around the Penn State grounds. Police went back to the day before her body was found, March 4th, to look for answers. Dana, who worked part time as a waitress, had visited her fiancé in another town that day and was too tired to work so she wound up calling out from the restaurant where she was due in at 5:30 pm. She instead decided to go to a local fitness center for an hour or so, and then returned home to her apartment where she was last seen by her roommate. Her roommate left to go visit Family. At about 8:30pm, Dana spoke with her fiancé by phone for about 30 minutes and then presumably went to bed. Sometime that night or early the next morning, her killer entered her apartment. The coroner established the time of death as being between late the night of March 4th and early morning March 5th.

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