This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class. The student credited above wrote this story as a class project.
“It is just unbearable, knowing the selfish, misogynist person that did this to my daughter is out there and could do this to some other poor woman,” Brenda Ruffin laments about the murder of her beloved daughter Marilyn Jaz Scott.
The murder shocked not only local law enforcement but her quiet community in Bel-Air, Maryland, due to way the young mother-to-be was targeted. “There was only one reason they came there and that was to kill Marilyn Scott,” Detective David Skica of the Harford County Sheriff’s Department asserted during a press conference with WMAR News.
Marilyn’s body was found lying next to her car, keys still in hand, on that crisp February morning in 2017, suggesting she was following her normal routine when she was ambushed. The crime scene revealed that she was heading down to start her car for her 50-minute commute to New Castle’s Air National Guard offices when shots rang out, alerting neighbors to the tragedy. Marilyn was shot twice in the chest and once in the head.
Marilyn Scott was only 28 years old. She was also three months pregnant. Both she and the unborn child died.
“Marilyn loved seeing other people happy,” her mother said. “She would always reserve restaurants for birthdays and holidays. She never forgot an event.” Marilyn loved to buy presents for her family and friends, and always spent more on others than she did on herself.
To her family, Marilyn was extraordinary and had a radiant personality, smart and driven to accomplish. “She was incredibly independent. She never needed anyone else’s help,” her sister, Paris Scott, remembers proudly.
Marilyn ran track in high school and college, excelling in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 300-meter, long jump, and hurdles. Through scholarships alone, she paid her way through college at Coppin State University in Baltimore, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English. She later enlisted in the Air National Guard, where she worked her way up to the rank of staff sergeant, with her sights set on becoming an officer.
The admiration in Paris’s voice is profound as she lists her older sister’s many remarkable achievements. Marilyn is the driving motivation for Paris in self-educating on the justice system, specifically what to expect once a suspect is brought to accountability. Paris shared her mission with Project: Cold Case to advocate for her sister and take the lead in understanding and explaining judicial process to her family as her way of coping.
While there have been speculations as to who was responsible for taking Marilyn’s life, the police maintain that there is not enough evidence to prosecute. Although there was a reported break in at her residence just days prior to her murder, nothing was taken. Marilyn called the police for that incident, but for her loved ones, sinister signs were ignored.
Brenda Ruffin believes the suspect in her daughter’s murder is not behind bars. She worries that the longer they aren’t held accountable, there could be more opportunities to do more terrible things.
If you have any information about this case, contact the Harford County Sheriff’s Department’s tip line at (410) 836-7788.
Research and Impact
The debate as to how charges are filed in the death of a fetus is complicated and a constant subject for legislative and social debate. For Marilyn Scott, the state of Maryland did not recognize her 3-month-old fetus’s death as a homicide. There is only a single charge of murder in this case.
Fetal Homicide refers to the act of violence against a pregnant woman leading to death of the fetus – a charge that varies state to state. Of the 50 states, only 38 states have laws recognizing and establishing fetuses’ rights. Only 29 states distinguish fetal homicide laws at the “earliest stages” of pregnancy.
While there are various laws addressing fetal rights – Fetal Protection Act, Unborn Victim of Violence Act, and Preborn Victims of Violence to name a few – the fight to collectively enact laws across all states, protecting both woman and fetus from violence, is on-going.
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