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Remains may be those of missing Md. psychologist

June 19, 2002

FREDERICK - As Maryland State Police wait for positive identification of human remains found Monday night in the Catoctin Mountains, they have not ruled out the possibility they may be those of Rodney Cocking, a Carroll County psychologist missing since February.

A man walking his dog along a dirt road on Gambrill Mountain found the bones beside the trail and called Frederick County Sheriff's deputies at 6:15 p.m. Monday. They arrived and secured the scene throughout the night.

Forensic pathologists and Maryland State Medical Examiner representatives responded to the scene Tuesday morning and began collecting evidence which included a shirt, pants and a jacket as well as the decomposed remains of an adult male, police said.

On June 5, police charged Randall H. Gerlach, 56, with first-degree murder in the death of Cocking who lived in the 2800 block of Sams Creek Road, New Windsor, Md. He is being held in the Carroll County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.

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Cocking, 59, worked for the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va., and has been missing since Feb. 23, police said.

Police alleged they found evidence from Cocking's computer that Gerlach owed Cocking more than $300,000. Full payment was expected by Feb. 1, less than a month before a friend reported Cocking missing.

The investigation showed Cocking had made loans to Gerlach over the years, apparently with the understanding that the loans were investments in Gerlach's land development business.

Police learned that Gerlach met Cocking at his home the morning of Feb. 23. On March 1, state police served a search warrant on Gerlach's 1993 Toyota pickup truck. They found traces of blood in the truck that matched blood traces found at Cocking's home, police alleged.

Police said it's likely Cocking was wounded or killed at his home on Feb. 23 and that the body was taken from Gerlach's truck and disposed of.

Investigators said Tuesday they are hoping the forensic experts will be able to identify the remains quickly and determine the cause of death.

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