At Johns Hopkins, she worked tirelessly in the Milton D. Eisenhower Library, in whose quiet recesses she would study for hours. But the library was also a magnet for her personal travails, the scene of an argument with one ex-boyfriend, and some kind of confrontation with a rejected suitor.

It was on the front steps of that brick-and-marble building that Ms. Phillips was last seen alive by friends. They left her at the entrance around 6 p.m. on March 22, 1989. She told them she planned to study. Her final hours remain a mystery. Ms. Phillips made one brief telephone call, around 8:45 p.m. to a close friend who lived several blocks away and had been expecting her to drop by that evening. He sensed no alarm in the voice of the young woman, who said she'd be there within the hour. She never showed up. Instead, police surmise, she ran into her killer somewhere near her Calvert Street apartment building, where she was hit seconds after stepping inside.

Ms. Phillips' body was found the next day, just inside her front door. She was fully clothed and wearing an overcoat. She had not been robbed or molested. Beside her was her knapsack, filled with books

The deeper they probed, the more detectives struggled with the ferocity of the murder and the mentality of the killer. Was he a rejected suitor?

"There was a lot of rage and anger [in the attack], and it was all directed at the head," says Hagin. "Draw your own conclusions"...

However, authorities never recovered the murder weapon, probably a hammer, baseball bat, or metal pipe. They did remove hairs from beneath the victim's fingernails, evidence that she struggled with the killer. And the FBI identified the bloody footprint as that of a Head Edge II shoe, size 8 1/2 to 9 1/2, a court shoe then favored by tennis and racquetball players.