Man charged with hiring someone to kill girlfriend

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County Police have charged the boyfriend of a woman slain in 2000 with hiring someone to kill her.

Forty-three-year-old Stephen Michael Cooke Jr. of Pasadena was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the killing of 24-year-old Heidi Bernadzikowski. Cooke is being held without bail.

Bernadzikowski was found dead in her Dundalk home in April 2000. She had been strangled and her neck was cut.

In January 2012, 34-year-old Alexander Charles Bennett of Greeley, Colo., was charged with killing Bernadzikowski. Authorities say DNA evidence linked him to the crime; he is awaiting trial.

Police say Cooke hired Bennett to kill Bernadzikowski so Cooke could collect on a $700,000 life insurance policy he had purchased on his girlfriend.

Officers say Cooke contacted Bennett over the Internet to arrange the alleged plot.


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