ELKTON — A man who told investigators that he killed his girlfriend inside her Elk Mills home in October because she was “possessed by the devil” is facing up to 40 years in prison after accepting a plea deal.
The defendant, Jason Daniel Waddell, 41, of North East, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Monday, as part of a plea agreement in which prosecutors dropped the remaining charge, first-degree murder, an offense that is punishable by up to life in prison.
Cecil County Circuit Court Judge Brenda A. Sexton accepted Waddell’s guilty plea and set his sentencing for Aug. 23, allowing time for a pre-sentencing investigation. Second-degree murder carries a maximum 40-year sentence, but the defense will be allowed to argue for a lesser penalty at sentencing.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michael J. Halter and Waddell’s assistant public defender, Denise Winston, negotiated the plea agreement.
Waddell killed 38-year-old Lyra Marie Magliacane, whom Maryland State Police detectives found dead on the floor of an upstairs bedroom inside her home in the 500 block of Elk Mills Road, near Elkton, at approximately 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27, 2017, according to court records. In court documents, detectives indicated that Magliacane appeared to have been strangled.
On the bed, police found a note that stated, “Satan is dead,” according to court records. The forensic examination revealed ligature marks on Magliacane’s neck, indicating that her death was a homicide, court records show.
MSP detectives discovered the murder during a missing person investigation, which started about 9:15 a.m. Oct. 27 — some eight hours earlier — when Magliacane’s husband, from whom she was separated, reported that Magliacane was not at home when he attempted to drop off their children earlier that day, police reported.
“He also attempted to contact her via telephone, which was unsuccessful. There was no one at home at the residence when he arrived with the children, and (he) advised troopers this was unusual,” according to court records, which also indicate that the estranged husband told detectives that Magliacane’s blue Chrysler Sebring also was not at the residence.
The last time that the estranged husband had seen Magliacane was Oct. 26, a day earlier, when he picked up his children from her home.
He expressed concern for Magliacane’s welfare to MSP detectives, because of information that Magliacane had given him Oct. 26
“Lyra sent him a text message, which advised (that) she was afraid of her friend, Jason Daniel Waddell, and that he was obsessed with her. She also sent (her ex-husband) pictures of large bruises caused by Waddell,” court records allege.
After getting Magliacane’s cellphone number and making a formal request to “ping,” an electronic technique that allows investigators to track where cellphone activity is occurring, MSP detectives zeroed in on Baltimore County, police said. Detectives then provided troopers at MSP’s Golden Ring Barrack a description of Magliacane’s car, which spurred a search in that area, police added.
Troopers assigned to that barrack located Magliacane’s blue Sebring in the 1800 block of Snow Meadow Lane in Baltimore County and, a short time later, Waddell appeared at the scene and told them it was his girlfriend’s vehicle, according to court records.
“During that contact with Waddell, Waddell advised that he killed her and the body was at (her home in the 500 block of Elk Mills Road). He stated she was ‘possessed by the devil,’” court records allege.
Waddell was arrested at that scene, and he has remained in custody ever since.
Based on the information that Waddell had provided, MSP investigators in Cecil County went to Magliacane’s home in Elk Mills at 5:35 p.m. Oct. 27, about 20 minutes later, and found her body in a locked second-floor bedroom, court records show.
In April 2018, Sexton granted a mental incompetency motion filed by the defense. Winston maintained that Waddell lacked the capacity to assist in his own defense and to understand the proceedings.
Sexton based her decision to grant that defense motion on a report filed by state psychiatrists who, after examining Waddell at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital in Jessup, concluded that a mental problem would preclude Waddell from standing trial.
Waddell was committed to that state psychiatric hospital, where he continued to receive in-patient treatment.
In November 2018, however, state psychiatrists concluded that Waddell was competent to stand trial, after further examination, according to court records.
Waddell pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Monday, the day his jury trial was scheduled to start.