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027 - The Murder of Kanika Powell

[Case Evidence]

                Kanika Powell was born on January 31st, 1980 near Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  She was the daughter of Judy Powell Forrest.  She had a stepfather, David Forrest and three siblings, Jamual Forrest, Eric Darr and Trina Morrison.  She is described by those who knew her as a bright, determined young woman who was very ambitious and not afraid of a challenge.  In fact, it was challenge which seemed to drive her and she was devoted to pushing forward, surpassing any obstacles in the path to achieving her dreams.  Many said that, despite her intensity when it came to the future and goals, she was also gentle and calm, the kind of person you could spend time just hanging out and laughing with.  A former friend, Crystal Thompson, later said of Kanika “All I remember is a free spirit and easygoing person, always smiling.” 

                Kanika would go on to graduate from Largo High School in Upper Marlboro in 1998.  After spending the next two years trying to figure out where she was going, and ultimately how she wanted to spend her life, Kanika chose to enlist in the army.  While this was a career move she was certainly driven to follow through, there was a sense of hesitance in that she was very close with her family, especially her mother, and wasn’t excited about the prospect of being away from them for so long.  Despite any doubt she may have had, Kanika was bound and determined to excel at this new adventure in her life and do her very best.  Kanika officially enlisted in the 2000.

                During her time in the Army, Kanika was able to see more of the world.  She would eventually serve a tour in Korea, and found work within the army as a security contractor.  Regardless of what was going on in her life, she found time to communicate with friends and family through email, letters and the occasional phone calls.  If nothing else, Kanika was very serious about her responsibilities and their confidential nature.  After the Army, Kanika back near her family, living in Prince George County, Maryland where she began seeking work in security.  Kanika lived by herself just under an hour away from Washington DC, in a garden style apartment in Laurel, Maryland.  Her new location offered a great many opportunities in Kanika’s field, and she was excited about her prospects.  In 2004, Kanika’s prospects broke wide open when she was hired on being offered a job as a contract worker at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.  By 2006, she was hired as a full-time employee at the lab.

                Kanika’s new position involved duties related to National Security and had involvement with the Department of Homeland Security.  According to information released by the Lab, they are involved in more than four hundred research projects which touch on these sensitive areas.  The Lab itself defines it’s work as being dedicated to “Ensuring the reliability of complex technologies that safeguard the nation’s security and advance the frontiers of space.”  A spokesman for the Lab, Michael Buckley, did confirm that Kanika was an employee but would not release information regarding the nature of her work in the lab, not even so much as her job title, citing national security and the sensitive nature of her work.  Kanika’s email signature, though, read as follows:  “Kanika T. Powell, Special Security, 13-S448 JHU / APL.”  Part of Kanika’s job required her to travel for the lab, safeguarding the delivery and pick up of materials to places as far away as California.  According to her mother, Judy, Kanika would tell her that she was going out of town for a few days and, according to Judy “I would ask her where she was going and she would say ‘Mom, you know I can’t tell you that.’”  For the next few years, things seemed to move smoothly for Kanika and she was thoroughly enjoying her new career.  In Late 2008, Kanika was now twenty-eight years old and had been working at the Lab for four years.  Suddenly, some strange incidents began happening and Kanika was concerned.  Though the nature of her work remains a mystery, and required her to keep all information confidential, some things began happening to her that gave her cause for alarm and she was able to share them.

                On Monday, August 25th, 2008, Kanika sent an email to several friends and members of her family.  According to Kanika, she’d had a strange and disturbing experience two days earlier, on Saturday August 23rd.  The email was sent at 8:04am and I will now read it to you in its entirety:

                I just wanted to share with you the scariest thing that happened to me this weekend. Saturday evening around 7pm a man was knocking at my door (as all of you may know I live alone). I asked who it was and he didn’t answer, so once I got close to the door and looked out of the peephole I saw a male figure that was not familiar to me at all. 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. He held a shield up but no picture ID and he never gave his name. He told me he was looking for me in regards to an investigation. I told him that I had no idea as to what he was talking about and that he would need to show me documentation as well as a warrant of some sort. So he left and I looked out my bedroom window and saw him walking. I also heard a voice tell him to walk in the opposite direction.

                The whole situation was scary and seemed so false. So because of this incident not only did I get NO sleep for the rest of the weekend but I am now trying to get an alarm system installed in my apartment. I had one in my old apartment, but I just hadn’t had it transferred over to my new one.

As far as everything that happened with the guy. I did call the FBI and they told me that it was more than likely bogus because they never come to your door by themselves and they always leave a card of some sort so that you can contact them. I called the local police as well to give them a description just in case someone is out there trying to rape or harm single women.

                Pass this on ladies.. This is not a fake Forward this happened to ME Kanika…Who knows who these guys are and what they are doing and in what areas other than mine.”

 

                According to Judy, Kanika called her Saturday night after the incident occurred.  Judy would state “It was a Saturday evening, I’ll never forget.  She called and said ‘Ma, these two men just knocked on my door saying that they were from the FBI.’  She said they called her by name.  She said ‘I’ve already called the FBI to find out if they had sent anybody.’  And so she said they put a fake badge – I guess she could tell that it was fake – up to the peephole.  She didn’t open the door.  She called the police, they searched the area, didn’t find anyone of course.”  According to authorities, they arrived just four minutes after Kanika’s 911 call and canvassed the area but there was no one around who fit Kanika’s description and no other witnesses to the incident.  The FBI denied having sent any agents to contact her and stated that they had no investigation on record in which her name appeared.

                Kelly Easter, who worked with Kanika, had lunch with her the day after the incident, on August 26th.  Easter would state “She was busy working on stuff, trying to get police involved.  She was really messed up about the whole thing.  She just had no idea what to do.”   Judy later said that Kanika got her security system installed after the visit, and was very concerned about the strange nature of the encounter.  She wasn’t necessarily concerned for her personal safety, at least not to an extreme, and according to Judy she “thought she was being set up for a scam after the first visit.” According to Judy, she didn’t feel that Kanika was overly frightened, so to speak, but moreso angry that someone was trying to pull something over on her.  Regardless, she wasn’t a passive person and took steps to make sure she protected herself.  Unfortunately, this would not be the last strange visit to Kanika’s door.

                On Wednesday, August 27th, just four days after the first incident, and two days after she sent out the email, there was another knock at her door.  When Kanika looked through her peephole she saw a different man from the first incident.  Again, this individual asked if she were Kanika Powell.  She refused to open the door, or confirm her identity.  The man allegedly told Kanika that he was had a package to delivery to her, and that he had to go get it and he would be right back.  The man disappeared out of Kanika’s sightline and never returned with the so-called package.  He also failed to leave behind any card or note instructing Kanika about where she could go to pick up the package herself, which is a fairly standard practice from package delivery services.  Though the incident was odd, what made Kanika most suspicious was that the knock on her door came at 7:30 in the morning. 

                According to Judy, Kanika again called her.  Judy stated that Kanika said “Someone knocked on my door again saying they had a package for me.  It’s 7:30 in the morning – who delivers packages that early?”  According to Judy, Kanika felt she was being targeted, though she had no idea for what reason or who would have chosen to focus on her.  Judy later said that Kanika asked her “Why are these people bothering me, Ma?”  The idea that the men were simply trying to pull off a scam on her went out the window, and Kanika knew that whatever was going on, it wasn’t just a random scheme.  Judy would also state “When I look back on it, I can kind of hear the fear in her voice.  She said ‘Well mom, I’m not going to work today’ because she was planning going out of town the next day.  She said I’m here running around in the dark so I’d rather get it done in the day and get back home safe.”

                Kanika decided not to go to work that day, calling out, so that she could run some errands during the daylight hours.  Obviously, the strange visits were having an impact on her, and she simply didn’t feel secure working her full shift and then having to do her errands at night, returning home in the dark.  Kanika left her apartment that morning, shortly after speaking to her mother.  It would be the last time she ever spoke to her mother, and the details surrounding the men who had been knocking on her door would become the object of speculation to this very day.

                Kanika returned home to her apartment at approximately 11:50am.  She entered her apartment building and found someone was in the hallway, waiting for her.  The unknown assailant opened fire with a handgun, hitting her multiple times.  Police were called when neighbors heard gunshots and the sound of a woman screaming.  They arrived on the scene to find Kanika in critical condition and bleeding out.  Kanika was found lying in the stairwell of her building with multiple gunshot wounds to her upper torso and chest.  She was transported to the hospital by ambulance but it was too late to save her and Kanika never regained consciousness.  She died as a result of her injuries the next day, having been too badly injured to be saved.  During their investigation of the scene, Police located Kanika’s wallet as well as her apartment keys laying next to where her body had been found.  This allowed them to quickly rule out robbery as a motive, since nothing appeared to be missing from her wallet and there were no signs that anyone had entered her apartment.

                Police was baffled by the attack, unsure of what the reason was behind the murder.  They were aware of Kanika’s reports of the strange men knocking on her door.  They had a physical description for the first man, though they had little else to follow up on.  Detective Kelly Rogers of the Prince George County Police stated “At this point, we haven’t ruled out any avenue of investigation or motive.”  The deeper investigators dug into the case, the less answers they were able to come up with.  They failed to lock down a specific motive, saying that none of the angles they followed lead anywhere.  Kanika lived by herself, was described as a kind and generous woman who didn’t have any problems with anyone.  Police could find no one who stood out as a likely source of anger, no ex-lover who wanted revenge, no sign or indication that the murder was gang related and no robbery had taken place.  Police were absolutely baffled by this case.  Judy would later say “She was just living a normal life.  It doesn’t add up, somebody knows something and they’re holding onto it and we don’t know why.”

                The family was devastated by Kanika’s murder, but they weren’t inactive.  The family quickly began passing out fliers looking for anyone who may have had information about the murder.  A reward of $25,000 was offered for any information leading to  any information which could lead to an arrest in the case.  Strangely, media coverage of Kanika’s case was smaller than one would imagine under circumstances such as these.  A beautiful, smart, young woman who served in the military and held a classified job working at a lab focusing on national security and so little information has ever been released to the public.  In the immediate aftermath of her murder, questions were asked as to whether or not Kanika’s murder may have been related to her sensitive job.  Michael Buckley, the spokesman for the lab made a statement to the media suggesting that it was too early on in the investigaton to speculation as to whether or not the murder had any connection to Kanika’s work.

                Initially, Police began to look into a possible connection between Kanika’s murder and the murders of Jason Thomas Scott, the so-called “Mother-Daughter killer” who operated in Prince George County.  Scott was arrested and charged with 11 felonies and 50 burglaries.  He was sentenced to a total of 182 years in prison for the March 2009 double murder of 42 year old Delores Witt and her 20 year old daughter, Ebony as well as the murders of Vilma Butler, Karen Lofton and Karen’s sixteen year old daughter Karissa.  Both women were strangled to death and later found in a burning car.  His most active time period in Prince George County was between June of 2008 and March of 2009, with Kanika’s murder having taken place in August of 2008.  An interesting connection is that Scott worked for UPS, the package delivery service, and often used his access to customer addresses to compile a database of potential suspects.

            According to statements made by federal prosecutors:  “The evidence showed that Scott started committing burglaries at a young age, then he graduated to home invasion robberies in 2008. Many of the crimes were committed with accomplices, but Scott committed some crimes by himself.  Scott selected the homes to be targeted; observed the targeted homes to assess the number of occupants and the vehicles present; checked addresses, using internet searches and a database at the Landover UPS facility where Scott worked; cut phone lines to disable alarm systems; and gained entry through unlocked windows or by smashing glass windows and doors.”
                No certain link has ever been made between the murder of Kanika Powell and the crimes of Scott, though there does appear to be enough information there to cause speculation on the parts of many who have looked into her case.

                While authorities never uncovered much, and to this day, have been very tight lipped about the case, others have speculated that Kanika’s murder was not only not a random incident, but may be tied to another murder which bares a bizarre similarity.  Just three months after Kanika was killed, thirty-one year old Sean Green was also murdered.  Green grew up in Prince George.  In his twenties, he began working for the school district as a tech coordinator and later received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland.  Green was living in Oxon Hill Maryland, and much like Kanika, lived alone, was never married and had no children.  Another similarity that many argue is too close for coincidence is that Sean Green worked for BEA Systems as a contract tech-support employee at the National Counterterrorism Center in Northern Virginia and was granted a top secret clearance.  Though Green’s specific work is confidential, it is known that he worked in information technology and handled computers with sensitive national security information.

                Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center described Green as an “exceptional employee whose cheerful spirit will be missed dearly.  Sean understood how his critical work contributed to the success of our mission and he strove to do his very best each and every day.  His important work at this center has helped to keep our country safe.”  Green functioned as a surrogate father for his eight nephews, and one niece, watching over them and attending all of their sports activities. His mother, Carolyn, later stated “He never missed one of their birthday celebrations, school plays nor any other event that would bring them honor or distinction.” 

                On November 12th, 2008, at approximately 5:31pm, Green was driving his black Cadillac deville when he stopped behind a few cars, waiting for a red light.  He had just left his apartment and was only blocks away, on the Capital Beltway coming from Virginia Lane to St. Barnabas Road.  Suddenly, a masked man approached Green’s car on the driver’s side and opened fire, shooting him nine times.  Witnesses who were waiting at the light caught glimpses of the assailant but were only able to give a vague description, and the mask made identification impossible.  The murder was violent and quick, with the shooter running off.  Cpl Clinton Copeland, a spokesman for the Prince George County Police Department said they had no suspects and were struggling to establish a motive.  He stated “It doesn’t appear to be a carjacking, he was sitting at the light, he wasn’t the only car there.  It’s weird stuff, a mystery right now.”

                According to Green’s brother, Stephen, he often left his apartment around 5:30 to go to a nearby gym to work out.  It has been speculated that whoever committed the murder had been following Green and was aware of his comings and goings.  Of the murder, Stephen would later state “We’re all just in shock right now.  This is a great loss, not just to our family but to the whole world.  My brother came from a very loving and supportive family.  He was a son, a brother, a nephew, a wonderful uncle, a positive member of society.”

                The murder of Sean Green left police with as many questions as the murder of Karina Powell had.  For many, it’s incredibly difficult to not draw a connection between the two.  It’s a strange circumstance that finds two young people working top secret clearance jobs within fifty miles of one another who murdered within three months of each other, only twenty-five miles apart.  Both appeared to have been specifically targeted and died as the result of multiple gunshot wounds.  Authorities have publicly stated that they do not believe the two murders are connected, but considering the lack of suspects or evidence in either case, it seems impossible to rule that out.

                In the nine years since both Kanika Powell and Sean Green were murdered, oddly, almost nothing has been released in terms of the investigations or probable theories.  Most of the news articles which covered these crimes no longer exist online.  It is remarkably startling for two such brutal crimes to occur to people who were working in national security and nothing is really available to dissect or discuss.  In relation to the gaping lack of information or official statements, several theories have sprung up that speculate as to why Kanika may have been murdered, and whether or not Sean Green’s murder is in fact connected to it.

                The first theory suggests that Kanika was murdered in a completely random incident.  Though Kanika herself felt that she was targeted, some have speculated that the men who had knocked on her door chose her at random.  Of course, there is evidence which suggests this wasn’t the case, for instance, the men who knocked on her door specifically asked for Kanika Powell.  But, there are some who think its possible that the killer or killers simply gained her name from a piece of misdirected mail, or possibly even from the phone book.

                Another theory speculates that Kanika’s murder was not random, and was possibly carried out by someone she knew.  Though Kanika did not recognize either of the individuals who came to her door in the days leading up to her murder, some have suggested the possibility that these men were put up to the task by someone Kanika knew.  Though she had no known problems with ex-lovers, and no one in her personal life could think of anyone who had reason or a motive to commit the crime, some believe that there may have been someone who was jealous of her, or perhaps interested in her and was spurned, and so this unknown individual may have turned to violent options.  It’s also been pointed out that, considering the secure nature of Kanika’s job, we have no way of knowing whether or not she had any issues with a co-worker.

                The third theory follows the thought process that Kanika may have been a yet unproven victim of the Mother Daughter Killer, Jason Thomas Scott.  It is well known that Scott was active in Prince George County during the time that Kanika was killed.  In addition to this, Scott worked for UPS and may have been able to pose as a package delivery man on the second time Kanika’s door was knocked on.  He has a history of violent crimes and had killed both before and after the date of Kanika’s murder.  There are also details which detract from this theory, and prosecutors never were able to make a direct connection.

                Another theory alleges a connection between the murder of Kanika Powell and Sean Green.  According to this theory, these murders were not random and were somehow connected to their positions within national security.  Supporters of this theory draw connections between the similarities in these crimes and hint that there is a possibility that someone inside of their jobs, or even someone within the field of national security itself, targeted them for one reason or another.  It’s difficult to not see connections there, though in terms of evidence, both cases are thin and so this possibility needs to be explored further.

                The final theory is that Kanika Powell was murdered by hit man, hired by a yet unknown person.  Some believe that Kanika was indeed targeted, and that her murder was far from random.  They go so far as to suggest that someone in Kanika’s life had a reason to want her dead, or need her dead, and so this person hired a professional to kill her.  There are some reasons to support this theory, such as the fact that Kanika was shot multiple times inside of the hallway of her apartment complex by someone who was able to escape and the weapon has never been found.  On the other hand, many feel that the way in which the crime was conducted and the days leading up to it suggest someone who wasn’t quite up to par with what they would expect of a professional hitman.  A key component of this theory is that the killer knew her name.

                The murder of Kanika Powell is a terrible tragic story with a brutal ending.  A beautiful young woman who strove so hard to achieve and was serving her country in the realm of National Security was stalked, tormented and executed without any apparent motive and completely without cause.  It’s an extremely frustrating case, not just for those of us who have looked into it, but for the family as well.  Due to her job, so little information has been released, leaving almost everyone in the dark.  In addition to Kanika’s murder, the strikingly similar attack on Sean Green mirrors it further in terms of being a senseless crime for which there are no answers and authorities have remained exceedingly silent about.  What was it which led to the deaths of Kanika Powell and Sean Green? 

                Unless further information is revealed, or someone comes forward with information, it sadly seems that both of these crimes will remain a convoluted mystery of National Security, Top Secret Clearances and dark theories one would expect to only find in a spy novel.  Here, in the real world, two bright lights were snuffed out from the world and their families have been left to sort through the rumble in the aftermath of their losses, and nine years later, we are no closer to answering their questions than we were the days these horrible crimes took place.

[Thoughts & Theories]

                The murder of Kanika Powell is a terribly sad story about an intelligent, kind and thoughtful woman with strong ties to her family and an ambitious dream that ends in such a brutally tragic way.  Just a few years into working at a job she enjoyed, in a field she had spent her adult life pursuing, her life was taken away in a moment of madness and violence.  To this day, the mystery of who murdered Kanika, and why she was targeted has never been successfully answers and for all of the theories that exist, the authorities have remained fairly silent.  Whether it has to do with her job being such a secret, or as a result of the utter lack of evidence is hard to know for sure, but what we do know is disturbing and terrible.  A bright life with so much potential was taken away, a family was left devastated and wondering why.  Though they still do not have answers, and lack the closure that might grant them peace, they also choose to remember Kanika as the wonderful person that she was and not the victim of a violent murder.

                This case has been on my radar almost since the inception of the podcast.  The more I read about it, the more I dug into it, the more frustrated I became.  Typically, when I select an episode, I have specific requirements about how much information I have available to me.  This case doesn’t meet any of those requirements and it’s exceedingly frustrating how little there is to find about it.  Despite my efforts, I was fairly limited in the information I was able to use as a basis for this episode.  Almost all of the news articles that were written about it have fallen into archives or simply been wiped from the internet.  The few articles which remain tell a very shallow summary of her story, typically focusing in on Kanika’s murder and telling very little about her as a person. 

                Ultimately I decided that this was a story that should be told, that Kanika’s life and the details of her murder, though few and far between, deserve to be heard.  I have to admit that I was blown away by the lack of information, specifically in terms of what police had to say about it.  I always find it bizarre when a crime is committed and nine years later, the Police department investigating it still hasn’t said very much about it.  I suppose it’s entirely possible that we haven’t heard more about potential evidence simply because there is no other evidence to examine.  In the absence of solid leads and hard evidence, we have a cacophony of theories and speculation, everything from a random act of violence to a deep seeded government conspiracy to eliminate someone inside their own ranks.  But the murder of Kanika Powell is not the stuff of a Hollywood espionage film, it’s a heartbreaking and frightening story of a young woman murdered for unknown reason.  So what happened to Kanika Powell? 

                The first theory follows the suggestion that Kanika’s murder is so difficult to track and solve because of the random nature of it.  Supporters of this theory believe that, though Kanika thought she was targeted due to the two men who had come to her door and specifically stated that they were looking for Kanika Powell, it’s entirely possible that these men had selected her at random.  We really don’t know anything about these guys, other than the fact that one of them had fake FBI credentials that he tried to use to trick her into the opening the door.  The other man pretended that he had a package to delivery to her, though when she again wouldn’t open the door, he simply left.  I’ve always felt that the second guy shows major signs of a lack of forethought in this case.  If you were going to pretend to be a delivery man in hopes of gaining access to someone’s apartment, why wouldn’t you at least have carried a box with you to make it look legit?  I’ve also wondered if he, at a minimum, wore a uniform that looked convincing but that’s a detail which has never been released to the public, if it’s even known for sure.

                The idea of two men seeking to invade a woman’s apartment isn’t exactly a novel concept, it’s happened before and sadly, it will happen again.  It’s fairly typical for violent criminals who operate in terms of burglary, assault and murder to use ruses such as these to gain the trust of their victims, or at least to get them to open the door.  Kanika, though, was not stupid or overly trusting, and she followed her instincts by questioning the men, refusing to unlock her door.  She called the police both times this happened, she contacted the FBI to verify whether or not they had sent an agent to speak with her.  This was not the kind of woman you wanted to try and fool, and she did all of the right things to try and correct the situation.  Unfortunately, in her efforts to protect herself, she elected to take the day off from work and run her errands during the daylight which ultimately resulted in her killer waiting in the hallways of her apartment and opening fire when she entered.  I’ve always thought it was likely that the killer was watching her apartment and must have seen her leave that day, taking the opportunity to hide in preparation for the murder.

                So was this a random attack?  Hard to say for sure, we know for a fact that Kanika did not recognize either of the men who came to her door.  On top of that, the men specifically asked if she was Kanika Powell, which to me suggests that they weren’t sure what she liked either, or they simply wanted to verify it.  So, at a minimum, Kanika didn’t know her stalkers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t know her.  They could have seen her around, knew someone who knew her or been as random to have picked her name from the phone book.  Whereas I can totally see how some would say this was a random attack, there’s one detail which makes me believe it wasn’t:  The fact that they came back.  In my estimations, if they had simply selected her at random, I think that when the first suspect attempted to gain entry by pretending to be an FBI agent that he’d have to have felt defeated when Kanika refused to open the door. 

                He created a suspicious circumstance, and she had gotten a good look at him.  He should have suspected she was going to notify someone about the incident, he should have felt like if he came back he could run the risk of being caught.  If he was still in the area after this, he’d have seen the police arrived and I think, for most criminals, this would be enough reason to avoid her area after that.  Then, just a few days later, the second man made an attempt, and again was foiled when Kanika did not believe his story and refused to open her door.  Later that day, when Kanika arrived home, she was shot to death in the hallway of the apartment building.  If this was random, if there was no meaning behind it, if Kanika was just a name selected for murder, why would you keep coming back instead of moving on to a different, easier target?  That doesn’t make sense to me, and while I think it’s possible this could have been random, I believe that these men seemed much more focused specifically on Kanika herself, rather than just the idea of murdering a random person.

                That brings us to the second theory, that Kanika was murdered either by someone who knew her, though she may not have known him, or that her killer was hired by someone that knew her.  At a minimum, these guys knew where Kanika lived and if it wasn’t as random as selecting a name from the phone book then there is the possibility that the men either followed her home or were specifically told where she lived.  As I previously said, I lean towards the option that her murder wasn’t random and I agree with Kanika’s own belief that she was being targeted.  Unfortunately, with so little information about her personal life available, it’s impossible to even have a suspect name or possibility.  According to police she didn’t have any issues with an ex and she’d never been married, had no children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean someone didn’t have an issue with her.  Whether it was jealousy over some unknown issue, or perhaps even someone at her job who didn’t like her or had a problem with her, they are all possibilities. 

                One angle to this which I haven’t seen anyone discussing but I think is a possibility that should be looked into is the fact that Kanika worked security for a lab that was dealing with National Security projects.  It’s entirely possible, and highly likely, that she guarded dangerous materials, or at least expensive ones.  I’ve often wondered about the possibility that someone was either planning to, or had, done something illegal at the Lab and was worried that Kanika was going to find out, or perhaps knew that Kanika had suspicions about their activities.  Dealing in work that sensitive, involving top secret clearances and classified materials, it wouldn’t be surprising that someone could have done something wrong and rather than face blowback from that by losing their job, or possibly even being prosecuted, they might have gone to great lengths to protect their interests by eliminating a person they perceived as a threat. 

                Unfortunately, with so little information available about Kanika’s work, it’s hard to really pin this down.  There could have been many reasons why someone would have wanted Kanika murdered, as foolish or senseless as they may seem to those of us who are examining her case.  Without more in depth information or some kind of a suspect list, or at least a for sure motive, it’s impossible to say with certainty.  I do, however, believe that Kanika was personally targeted and I find it much more likely that the men who came to her apartment either knew her, or were sent after her, as opposed to the option that the crime itself was done at random. 

                The third theory is an attempt to connect Kanika’s murder to the now incarcerated Mother Daughter Killer, Jason Thomas Scott.  Scott was active during the time that Kanika was murdered and focused specifically in Prince George County, where Kanika lived.  An interesting connection for me is that Scott worked for UPS, and as such had access to customer names and addresses.  It was noted in court that he had used this information to select victims before.  Now, we had previously discussed the possibility of a random attack with Kanika being a name picked out of a phone book, but what if she was a name picked out of a UPS database?  In addition to that possibility, the second attempt to gain entry to her apartment was carried about by a man posing as someone delivering a package.  Scott would have had access to a UPS uniform, and therefore could certainly have at least looked the part when approaching Kanika’s apartment that day.

                Many people have looked into this possibility, and for them, one of the reasons they believe Scott was unlikely the killer is the fact that he committed his murders on his own and we know that two separate men came to Kanika’s apartment.  In my research I was able to find information about Marcus Hunter, a then twenty-five year old man who was arrested in connection to Scott.  According to court documentation, Hunter was charged with two federal firearm charges and plead guilty to possessing a firearm and commiting a home invasion with Scott.  Whether or not this was a common thing, or a one time shot, it certainly opens the possibility that Scott had someone with whom he had broken into homes in the past, and to me, it seems unlikely that he would only have done this once. 

                We all know that when killers are captured, especially ones who commit heinous crimes like Scott did, we almost never know all of their victims.  Usually a few have slipped between the cracks, or there wasn’t enough evidence available to make a solid link.  Scott commited several of his crimes with a gun, and Kanika was shot to death, he was operating in her area at the time she was attacked and sometimes worked with an accomplice.  It’s entirely possible that he worked with more than one accomplice and that his name never came up in the investigation.  Authorities have never made an official comment on whether or not they examined Kanika’s murder in a possible connection to Scott, but considering the details available, it certainly seems like a possibility that at the least should be investigated. 

                The fourth theory draws connections between Kanika’s murder and that of thirty-one year old Sean Green who was gunned down just three months after Kanika, and only twenty five minutes away from where she had been attacked.  The similarities are difficult to ignore:  both lived alone, worked in jobs related to national security and were shot, seemingly without motive, by suspects who managed to disappear.  In both instances investigators have been quiet about what information they’re in possession of, and in both cases the victims jobs were classified as top secret, and as such, their employers were unable to share any information about what exactly they were doing. 

                This is an intriguing theory, and a lot of people have latched on to it.  It’s hard to ignore, right?  It has all of the makings of a conspiracy that somehow involved targeting workers in the field of National Security who work are based in Prince George County.  I absolutely have the kind of mind that can really dig into something like this and try to make all of the clandestine connections, but in regard to this case, I find that really hard to do.  I absolutely believe that the way in which these two is bizarrely similar and the timing of the attacks, and distance between them, certainly suggests that there could be a correlation or some thread line which connects the two.  The problem is, the utter lack of evidence.  Authorities have come forward and stated that they do not believe the two crimes are connected, so perhaps that have more evidence then they are sharing which points away from this possibility, but just glancing at it does make you suspicious.

                When you look at this from the angle that both worked jobs related to national security, it makes you believe there is a connection.  For me, there are two issues with this:  One is that we don’t really know exactly what they were doing in their fields and, at least in terms of Kanika’s case, the lab she worked at was dealing with over four hundred separate projects.  Why these two people, specifically, would have been targeted goes beyond my understanding.  Kanika worked security, she was responsible for protecting information and materials.  Green worked in IT and was responsible for protecting and securing digital data. 

                Some people think it’s possible that Kanika and Green saw something which made them a threat, others believe that they may have been eliminated by the government for reasons unknown.  Although you have to consider all possibilities, I don’t find a great deal of validity in these claims.  Whether or not Kanika’s murder is related to Green’s, it certainly seems like a possibility, but we don’t really have enough information or evidence on either side to make a secure connection.  I believe there is something to this theory, and too many coincidences to ignore, but I can’t say with any certainty that there is anything more there than just that, coincidence.

                The final theory is that Kanika Powell was the target of a professional hit.  This sort of ties into the earlier theory that Kanika may have been targeted by someone who knew her, though this takes it to the next level with the involvement of a professional hitman.  Most people who follow this avenue look at specific details.  The idea that the killer specifically was looking for Kanika Powell, the knowledge that Kanika worked in a job which involved classified information and the fact that the killer, or killers, made several attempts to gain entry to her apartment before finally ambushing her in the hallway of her building.  At a minimum it feels like the person or persons responsible for this crime wanted to get it done, or needed to, and were willing to take whatever measured necessary to ensure it.  For me, it seems undeniable that Kanika’s killer was determined to end her life and time does feel like it was of the essence.  The first visit was four days before the murder, rather than taking time to let her guard come down and then to have attempted it again, they just came right back at her and ultimately gave up on getting into her apartment, shooting her outside of it.

                While murder is absolutely the driving force behind their actions, there are things that make it seem unprofessional.  Why would a contracted hitman, with experience, have tried to gain access to her apartment in the first place?  If murder was the main motive here, Kanika had to drive to work every day, she had to go grocery shopping and had a life that she was living.  There were likely many opportunities for a killer to have targeted her that wouldn’t have required her to even see it coming.  To me, that doesn’t feel like the work of a professional, especially one who has managed to evade detection for the last nine years.  Once again, we find ourselves brought back to the lack of motive as well.  Hiring out a professional hitman isn’t cheap, so someone would have had to have been willing to pay quite a bit of money to ensure that Kanika was murdered.  But for what reason?  No one has ever been able to give any motive for the crime, and though there certainly had to have been one, the absence of that information simultaneously makes everything and nothing a likely scenario.

                Though all possibilities must be examined, and the professional hitman theory is one which has gained traction over the years, I think it’s one of the lesser theories.  Maybe I give too much credit to the concept of a professional hitman, that’s entirely possible, but I don’t imagine that someone who is good enough to make a great deal of money carrying out hits is going to seem as inept at this one.  In addition to that, we know that two separate men knocked on Kanika’s door in the days and hours before her murder, and though it’s possible that a professional hitman could have a partner or an associate, he could probably also afford an FBI badge that actually looks legitimate rather than the cheap knockoff that he tried to use on Kanika. 

                The murder of Kanika Powell is as tragic as it is frustrating.  So little information is available about the woman herself, and even less so about what happened to her on that day in August of 2008.  Investigators have never provided much in terms of theories or possible motive, and what information they do possess, for the most part, is locked behind a wall of silence.  At the end of the day, when you break it down to its bare essentials, a sister, a daughter a friend and a colleague was murdered for no apparent reason and in the absence of answers people will often try to construct their own.  We may never know why Kanika was killed, or who was responsible.  We can only hope that at some point, more information will come out so that justice might be acquired for Kanika, and closure can be provided for her loved one who mourn her loss to this day.