Nancy Clark’s Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

If there’s one thing absolutely nobody can deny, it’s that there is no excuse for murder (except maybe self-defense) due to the simple fact nothing can atone for, compensate, or replace a life lost. This is honestly part of the reason true crime tales on such matters are so popular these days — people wish to uncover precisely how and why others can break every bound to satisfy their own desires. This much is actually evidenced in more ways than one in HBO’s ‘Telemarketers’ — yet for now, if you just wish to learn more about the briefly broached case of Nancy Clark, we’ve got you covered.

How Did Nancy Clark Die?

At the tender age of 22, Nancy was simply leading a good, happy, relatively independent life in Monmouth County, New Jersey, when everything was snatched away from her in the blink of an eye. The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate was a bright light in her community owing to her sheer care, empathy, kindness, compassion, optimism, as well as understanding. That’s only a small piece of why the news of her March 6, 1982, demise left not just her township but also the entire state baffled to its core — no one could’ve ever imagined she’d be killed.

Image Credit: Patch

It was around 4 am on the fateful morning when local police found Nancy’s remains at the edge of a wooded area along Whipporwill Valley Road in Chapel Hill upon receiving a call from a resident. The latter had noticed her body while casually driving by, and they obviously couldn’t help but dial 911 in the hopes she could be recovered and resuscitated before it was too late, yet to no avail. It turns out the young woman had been sexually assaulted prior to being stabbed once — right in the heart — with what was later revealed to be an extremely sharp six-inch “military-style knife.

The Mysterious Death of Nancy Clark

Once the initial inquiries into Nancy’s death ostensibly confirmed she had no known enemies, officials began retracing her steps in an attempt to figure out precisely how she ended up in Chapel Hill. That’s when they found a few witnesses consistently asserting she was alive a mere two hours prior — they’d seen her outside the Oceanfront Bar in Sea Bright at 2 am, where she’d gone without her car. According to them, it was possible she was actually with three men who had an older model white car (their sketches were subsequently released to the public), but they did not see her leave.

Image Credit: Red Bank Register

Therefore, it took a little while before one of these men was positively identified as then-20-year-old Leonardo resident Thomas “Tom” Bailiff, only for him to soon be criminally charged. It was purportedly towards the end of May when he was indicted for murder alongside accomplice (hence indicted for complicity to murder) 21-year-old Hazlet resident James Alexander. This was because it came to light they’d picked up Nancy while she was hitchhiking back home following her night out, just to take her to Scenic Drive in Atlantic Highlands instead — James was driving.

As per court records, it was during this drive that Tom forced her to perform sex acts and at the location that he pieced her heart; then he decided to dispose of her all the way near Whipporwill. This absent-without-leave officer from the United States Marine Corps was actually intoxicated by alcohol, marijuana, as well as mescaline at the time, so he claims he hallucinated and snapped. However, alongside his accomplice, he was also involved in two separate (unrelated) purse-snatching incidents on March 7 and March 8, 1982, dwindling the overall weight of his assertion.

Therefore, while Tom was held in Monmouth County Jail on a $500,000 bail following arrest, his less culpable co-defendant was released to his parents’ custody on a $50,000 bond on May 27. Yet, in the end, Tom pleaded guilty to all charges against him in November-December, whereas James was solely found guilty of hindering Tom’s arrest, not complicity. As a result, in January 1983, James was given a rather lenient sentence compared to the other’s life terms without the possibility of parole until at least 20 years.

Both Tom and James were also handed down 2½ to 5 years each for the two robberies. We should also mention that while Tom, as well as his attorney, tried to make the case that he was a tortured youngster who wanted help to understand the depravity of his actions, the prosecutors deemed him “a sexual sadist who hates women,” leading the judge to assert the only person they have compassion for is the victim, not him.

Read More: Where is Tom Bailiff Now?