Kanika Powell

It’s been 7 years since 28-year-old Kanika Powell was gunned down outside her Prince George’s County apartment by an unknown assailant.

Her death was the first of 2 mysterious murders involving government workers with security clearances in Prince George’s County in 2008.

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Kanika Powell did everything she was supposed to do after she became the victim of a stalking.

But it was her reluctance to discuss her high security job that may have cost her her life.

The circumstances surrounding the death of the vibrant 28-year-old who was gunned down execution-style near her home, leaves many questions unanswered.

According to an article on the Washington Post website, Powell worked as a security specialist for Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Prince George’s County, MD.

Not much else is known about Powell’s duties at the lab where scientists work on more than 400 homeland security and other research projects.

Since Powell’s job involved homeland security, the Army veteran couldn’t tell her family what her job entailed or where she went when she left town on work-related trips.

So on August 23, when a strange man showed up at her door flashing a badge and asking for her by name, she had more than enough reason to be worried.

Through the locked door, the man told Powell he was an FBI agent and needed to talk to her about a bank fraud investigation. Powell asked for photo identification but the man walked away without showing his ID.

Police arrived 4 minutes after Powell called them. And though they scoured Powell’s apartment complex, they couldn’t locate the man fitting the description that Powell gave them.

Two days later, Powell sat down and composed an email to friends detailing the stranger’s visit. ‘I asked who he was and all he stated was that he was from the FBI and that he was looking for Kanika Powell. It freaked me out completely because this man knew my name.’

Toward the end of the email, Powell wrote, ‘…not only did I get NO sleep for the rest of my weekend, I am trying to get an alarm system installed in my apartment.’

Powell signed her e-mail to friends and colleagues as “Kanika T. Powell, Special Security, 13-S448 JHU/APL.”

The alarm was installed in her apartment, but four days after the first incident, a different man showed up at Powell’s door posing as a deliveryman. Again, Powell refused to open her door. The next day, Thursday, a third man knocked on Powell’s door claiming to have a package for her, but when she didn’t open her door, he left without leaving the package or a claim slip.

Five hours later, upon returning home from running errands, Powell was ambushed outside her door by a gunman who opened fire with an automatic weapon. Powell was found lying in a stairwell after neighbors called police to report sounds of gunshots and a woman screaming.

She was rushed to a hospital and straight into surgery where doctors tried to repair the damage caused by multiple gunshots to her upper torso. But Powell died the next day, on August 29, while in intensive care.

Prince George’s County police are baffled by the strange case. They are asking anyone with information to call the county’s Crime Solvers hotline at 866-411-TIPS (8477). The family is offering a $25,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the killer or killers.

Michael Buckley, a spokesman for the Hopkins laboratories in Laurel, dismissed any notion that Powell’s death was work-related. He declined to name the lab where Powell worked, or her job title, citing “the nature of the work.”

Powell’s mother, Judy Forrest, said her daughter wouldn’t discuss her work with her. Powell would occasionally leave town for a couple of days to pick up things for the lab, she said. “I would ask her where she was going, and she would say, ‘Mom, you know I can’t tell you that.’ “

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