Wednesday June 18, 1975 was a warm day in the Montgomery-Frederick County area. The temperature reached the mid-80s and area swimming pools were crowded.
The Beatles, Black Sabbath, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Kiss, and Pink Floyd had taken over the music industry and young teenagers flocked to record stores to purchase their records and tapes. It’s likely that Paul Lentz, who was a ninth-grader at Julius West Junior High by 1975, was one of those devotees. Gerald Ford was the president and the Vietnam War had just ended, relieving millions of teenagers of the chance of being drafted and being sent to the killing fields of South Vietnam.
Paul Lentz had just finished ninth grade at Julius West Junior High School on the west side of Rockville. In those days ninth grade signaled the end of junior high school. In the fall of 1975, he would have enrolled at Richard Montgomery High as a tenth-grader. He seemed to be an ordinary boy, but surviving notes kept by the Maryland State Police indicated that he may have been a small-time seller of marijuana.
During the afternoon Paul left his house in the College Gardens section of Rockville and headed for the Congressional Bowling Alley on Rockville Pike. His friends hung out there, and he knew that he could spend most of the day there as long as his conduct was acceptable. Whether he arrived at the bowling alley is not known. None of his friends could be located for this article.
DeAnne Adams, then a neighbor of the Lentz family, said that Paul was a polite and quiet boy. She recalled that the family had several medical tragedies, including Paul’s sister contracting the measles and having to be institutionalized.
No one could recall seeing Paul after his trip to the bowling alley, and he was not seen for the next six days. It is not known whether his parents reported him missing. There is no missing person report in the archives of the Montgomery County Police.
On June 24 a state employee was working at the intersection of Maryland Route 80 and Park Mills Road. He noticed something unusual in a ditch by the side of the road and to his horror realized that it was a body. He called the police and the Maryland State Police, and the sheriff’s department responded. Because the body was found on a state route, the policy was for the state police to handle the investigation. Their investigation revealed that Paul had been stabbed to death.
The original investigators are long retired or deceased. The case file is missing along with any photographs or evidence. How did Paul get to Frederick County from Rockville? Was he kidnapped, killed and his body dumped in the ditch? Did he willingly ride with someone to Frederick County? Sergeant Dave Sexton of the Maryland State Police Cold Case squad is at a loss to provide answers today because of the loss of the case file.
There are people alive today who know what happened on that day. They have lived with the guilt and the memory of the crime on their minds for 44 years. Someone knows something about the terrible death of Paul, and the police are waiting for the call that will lead them to the culprits.
If you have any information on the murder of Paul Lentz, call Sergeant David Sexton of Maryland State Police Cold Case squad at 410.653.4211.