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Joby Palczynzki’s killing spree and hostage taking features on Your Worst Nightmare

Joby Palczynzki
Joby Palczynzki (R) seen here with his then girlfriend and later kidnap victim Tracy Whitehead

Joby Palczynzki killed four people and held a family hostage for days before being killed by police, Your Worst Nightmare examines the case.

31-year-old Joseph C. Palczynski had worked at an electrician and was a fan of body building, but at the time of the shootings he was unemployed. He also had an extensive list of prior convictions for assault, battery and other crimes, having served time in both prison and mental institutions.

On March 7, 2000, in the suburb of Bowley’s Quarters near Baltimore, Palczynzki kidnapped his 22-year-old former girlfriend Tracy Whitehead. In the process he shot and killed 49-year-old George Shenk and his 50-year-old wife Gloria, together with their 42-year-old neighbor David Meyers. The Shenks had been sheltering Whitehead from Palczynzki’s unwanted attention after she accused him of being violent and abusive. What followed was a huge manhunt and another killing.

Palczynski managed to evade police road blocks and on March 8 he killed 36-year-old Jenifer McDonel, who had a 2-year-old son and was pregnant. She’d been killed by a bullet richochet as Palczynski tried to carjack a vehicle. He later rented a room with Whitehead and the pair were discovered by police the next day, he fled into woods and Whitehead ran to the patrol car. Though the motel clerk said she’d been out alone several times and did not seem to have been held against her will.

Meantime Palczynski made his escape to Virginia where kidnapped William Louis Terrell and had him drive him back to the Baltimore area. Terrell was released unharmed and found by police in his pickup truck.

On March 17 Palczynski managed to evade police cordons and make it to the house of Whitehead’s mother, Lynn. She was in the house with her boyfriend Andrew McCord and the couple’s 12-year-old son Bradley. Once in the house he held the family hostage and refused to negotiate with police, sometimes firing out of the house. Finally after some 97 hours, Andrew McCord and Lynn decided to take matters into their own hand and drugged Palczynski’s tea with Xanax. This put him to sleep and they escaped out a window, leaving their son behind for police to rescue.

The police burst in and as Palczynski sat up and reached for a gun, they shot him dead. There was some debate in the media about the reasoning of the couple leaving their son behind for police to rescue and also the police firing so many shots at Palczynski.

The hostages later filed suit against the police for not doing enough to protect them from Palczynski, but they pointed out that the family had turned down various offers of support.

Your Worst Nightmare – The One That Got Away airs at 3:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.


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