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Cape St. Claire killer Larry Swartz dies at age 37

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  • Cape St. Claire killer Larry Swartz dies at age 37

    Cape St. Claire killer Larry Swartz dies at age 37
    By ERIC HARTLEY, Staff Writer
    A man whose brutal slaying of his adoptive parents nearly 21 years ago became
    one of the county's most infamous murders, inspiring a book and a made-for-TV
    movie, died Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack, his former attorney

    Larry Swartz, released in 1993 after serving nine years in prison, had moved to
    Florida, was married and had an 8-year-old child, said his longtime lawyer,
    Ronald A. Baradel.

    He was 37.

    "It was like losing a son," Mr. Baradel said. "He and I had developed pretty
    much of a fondness. We'd been out of contact for a couple of years, but
    re-established contact a couple of weeks ago."

    To protect the family's privacy, Mr. Baradel declined to say where in Florida
    Mr. Swartz was living.

    On the night of Jan. 16, 1984, 17-year-old Larry Schwarz fatally stabbed his
    father Robert, a computer technician, in a downstairs clubroom. Kay Swartz, a
    teacher at Broadneck High School, was stabbed and bludgeoned with a splitting
    maul after being chased through the community. Her nude body was found next to
    the family's swimming pool.

    County police arrested Larry, the oldest of the Swartzes' three adopted
    children, a week later after determining that his footprints were in the snow
    near his mother's body and a bloody handprint was his.

    The police investigation found that Mr. Swartz suffered from a personality
    disorder and had suppressed his anger against his parents for years.

    Robert and Kay Swartz were devout Catholics, and their household was described
    as one of strict discipline.

    Kay Swartz was unable to have children of her own, and her husband, an
    anti-abortion activist who picketed Planned Parenthood offices, was eager to
    adopt unwanted children.

    Larry's sister Anne was at home during the murders, but his brother Michael had
    drug and behavior problems that had landed him Crownsville Hospital Center.

    In 1990, Michael Swartz helped to murder a man for a jar of quarters. He was
    convicted of first-degree murder
    and sentenced to life in prison.

    Larry Swartz finally snapped one night after drinking in his bedroom. He first
    stabbed his mother, then attacked his father, who tried to stop him.

    After pleading guilty to second-degree murder, he was sentenced to 12 years in
    prison. He was released Jan. 23, 1993.

    The case inspired a book, "Sudden Fury: A True Story of Adoption and Murder" by
    reporter Leslie Walker. It became a New York Times best-seller.

    A 1993 television movie based on the murders, "A Family Torn Apart," starred
    Neil Patrick Harris of "Doogie Howser, M.D." as Larry Swartz.

    Mr. Swartz died without any warning, Mr. Baradel said. An autopsy was planned
    and funeral arrangements weren't available.

    Mr. Baradel said he was always confident that Mr. Swartz could have a normal
    life if given the chance. He never thought the murders reflected Mr. Swartz's
    true character.

    "It's not the kind of person he was," Mr. Baradel said.

    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail . . . but, a true friend will
    be sitting next to you saying, "**** . . . that was fun!"