Investigators say decades-old homicide puzzle 'solvable'

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Investigators say decades-old homicide puzzle 'solvable'

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Investigators say decades-old homicide puzzle 'solvable'

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Investigators say decades-old homicide puzzle 'solvable'

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Investigators say decades-old homicide puzzle 'solvable'

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Investigators say decades-old homicide puzzle 'solvable'

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Investigators say decades-old homicide puzzle 'solvable'

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2016 News:

Fox 25: New England's Unsolved (Nov 2016)

Fox 25's Bob Ward on Facebook Live (Nov 2016)

Crime Watch Daily show (May 2016)

2015 News:

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children video 

Nov 2015 State of NH Press Conference  

Boston Globe's 30 year anniversary story (with video) 

They Were Found Dead In Steel Drums 30 Years Ago. Who Are They? (Huffington Post)

NH1 News article May 9th, 2015 by Tyler Dumont

2014 News: 

2013 News:
CNN June 14, 2013
Cold-case murders of 4 females brought back to life by new images, DNA tests 

The Union Leader June 14, 2013
Police turn to technology in latest attempt to solve grisly murders

Concord Monitor June 14, 2013
Investigators release new facial images of unidentified bodies in Allenstown cold case

WMUR June 14, 2013 (article and video)  
New images released in Allenstown cold case

Daily Mail (UK) June 14, 2013
Do you know this family? Police use 3D models to reconstruct faces of a woman and three young girls found stuffed into barrels in New Hampshire woods 30 years ago

FOX News June 16, 2013 
Authorities hope new 3D images will help ID victims in New Hampshire cold case

WBZ-TV  February 26, 2013 (article and video)
NH Investigators Reopen 30-Year-Old Cold Case 

Associated Press  February 16, 2013
NH cold case squad trying to identify 4 victims

WMUR February 12, 2013 (article and video)
New DNA tests underway in Allenstown cold case

New Hampshire Sunday News February 10, 2013
Investigators Say Decades-Old Homicide Puzzle 'Solvable'


                                                      By Dan O'Brien The Union Leader 18 Oct 2010

ALLENSTOWN -- Next month will mark 25 years since the remains of a woman and a girl were found inside a 55-gallon metal drum hidden in the woods of Bear Brook State Park.Fifteen years after the gruesome 1985 discovery, the remains of two more children were found -- also inside a metal drum -- less than 100 yards away from where the first set of remains were discovered, off Edgewood Drive. Authorities have yet to identify the remains, but forensic analysis revealed all four victims were related.

While the recently-formed State Police Cold Case Unit has tried to breathe new life into the frustrating investigation -- using anthropologists to further analyze the remains in recent years -- Trooper John Sonia says no progress will be made until someone comes forward with the identities of the victims."We do have a lot of evidence," Sonia said, "but really, in this type of investigation, we need to establish who they are before we can gain ground on anything."

A lot of things have changed since the grisly discovery was made by a hunter Nov. 10, 1985. The first set of decomposed remains -- of a white woman between the ages of 22 and 33 and a girl between the ages of 8 and 10 -- were discovered behind a country store that no longer exists."At that time, it was a pretty active corner of Bear Brook," Sonia said.Forensic evidence analysis and communication-sharing between different law enforcement agencies weren't as advanced as they are now. And for 15 years investigators operated on the theory that only two people had been murdered.

Since the remains of two more girls -- one between the ages of 4 and 8, the other between 1 and 3 -- were found May 9, 2000, authorities have taken their investigation to other parts of the United States and Canada, still to no avail."You have an adult and three children falling off the face of the planet," Sonia said.The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has tried to assist. In recent years, Sonia said, an anthropologist analyzed the four remains and theorized the victims might be of Native-American descent.Because there is a large population of Native-Americans in Canada, Sonia said, investigators are speaking with Canadian authorities. The investigator said the evidence points to the murders being domestic-violence related, but detectives still don't know for sure.

"We are so close to Canada," he said. "We're leaning toward it not being a local crime, or a local family, because nothing has been turned up in 25 years."He said the Native-American angle is one way to narrow down the victims' identity, but it comes with a hurdle."You look up missing persons, and in Native-American populations it often goes unreported," Sonia said. "They have a culture of not speaking with police."Sonia, who has been assigned to the Allenstown case for a few years, said it's not clear how the first set of investigators originally missed discovering the second set of remains, but pointed out that the area looked a lot different back then.

Only the foundation of the country store remains today, and Sonia said the area was littered with debris and other barrels in 1985, making it easy to miss the second set. He said investigators have gained ground in physical evidence, including finding items of clothing and determining that the adult victim most likely suffered blunt force trauma as a cause of death. However, those pieces of evidence are almost meaningless until the victims can be identified."We have a lot of evidence, non-identification-wise, that will be utilized at some point," Sonia said, "but we have to ID who the victims are in order to generate a suspect."

NAMES OF MURDERED LOST OVER DECADES - POLICE HOPE TO IDENTIFY BODIES LEFT IN BARRELS                                                  Concord Monitor (NH)  March 27, 2009 by Karen Langley

At least 25 years have passed since a woman and three children were murdered, stuffed into barrels and left near Bear Brook State Park. The remains of the woman and one child were found spilling from a barrel in 1985. Fifteen years later, a state trooper revisiting the dormant case found the other remains in a barrel about 100 yards away. The four have never been identified.

There are other unsolved murders in New Hampshire, an average of about two per year, but these four victims are the only unidentified ones known to the chief of the attorney general's homicide unit. The void of information about their lives has crippled hopes of explaining their deaths. "Here the resources are going into identifying the victims," said Jeff Strelzin, senior assistant attorney general and homicide unit chief. "Normally in a homicide crime the resources are going to solving the crime. Getting to who killed them without knowing who they are is next to impossible."

Now authorities hope advances in forensic technology could help to identify the remains left in the Allenstown woods. A new technique for analyzing hair could yield clues about where the victims lived before their deaths. Analysts at a Utah lab are studying the woman's hair for isotopes peculiar to the drinking water of different regions. Investigators believe narrowing the search would increase the chance of finding someone who had contact with the victims.

Tracing evidence to a particular location has helped investigators before. In 2004, after Concord resident Manuel Gehring told the police he had forgotten where he buried his son and daughter after killing them, tests of pollen found with his shovel led to the discovery of the bodies in Ohio.

State investigators are also awaiting nuclear DNA tests being performed by the FBI. These tests would provide individual DNA profiles that could be used to find family members listed in federal databases. If the victims are identified, investigators will at last be able to ask the questions that are usually the first steps in solving a murder. When they do, they will be looking for a killer who committed a personal, violent crime, said Detective John Sonia of the State Police Major Crime Unit.

The woman and the child found with her were killed by blunt force trauma to their heads, Sonia said. The medical examiner did not determine how the pair of children died, he said, but ruled they had been murdered. "This case was particularly heinous and brutal," he said. "It either shows some kind of relationship between the perpetrator and victims that's so close and personal where they were bludgeoned and put in barrels."

But people who murder their entire families more often use methods like poisoning or shooting, he said. Crimes of intense violence are typically committed against a single victim, he said. "On the other hand, a serial perpetrator, a serial stalker with multiple victims, as we believe they're from one time. . . . That gives a different profile, a psychotic profile," he said. Strelzin said he could not comment on whether the victims had been bludgeoned.

For now, little information has been drawn from the remains. Forensic analysts have determined that the woman was between 23 and 32 years old. She had curly, light-brown hair and, like the children, was either white or Native American. She was about 5-foot-5. The child found with her was a girl between 5 and 10 years old. The girl stood about 4-foot-3 and had light-brown hair and ears pierced twice. The second pair of bodies were those of two children who appear to be younger. Investigators believe they are female, but the children were too young to know for sure.

"You can't get sex from skeletal morphology when they're that young," said Kim Fallon, a forensic investigator at the state medical examiner's office. "They have traits that suggest they're female, but that's not definite." One of those children was between 4 and 8 years old and stood about 3-foot-8. She had light-brown hair and a noticeable overbite. The other child was between 1 and 3 years old. She stood about 2-foot-5 and had long, blond hair. The initial DNA tests showed that the woman could be the mother of the child found with her and of the youngest child. Investigators said she is not the mother of the child who was between 4 and 8 years old.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has produced images from the bone structure of the woman and the two children who might be hers.

The case was reactivated a few years ago when Fallon learned about the four victims at a conference about missing persons and unidentified remains. "I couldn't believe when I heard about this case," she said. "That it's four of them from probably one event and three of them are children."

Quadruple homicides are rare. In 1991, Concord resident James Colbert strangled his wife and three young daughters. The 1997 shooting rampage of Carl Drega killed two state troopers, a part-time judge and a newspaper editor in northern Colebrook.

There are different theories about how four people could have disappeared as long as 30 years ago without ever being identified. The woman could have been a teenager who left home and had children without her family knowing, Fallon said. Or she and the children could be from the West Coast and brought here by a long-haul trucker, Strelzin said.

Investigators ask that anyone with information contact Detective John Sonia or Lt. James White of the State Police Major Crime Unit at 271-2663. 

POLICE LOOK FOR ANSWERS IN COLD CASE: CUTTING-EDGE TECHNIQUES MAY CRACK CASE                                                       March 26, 2007    WMUR

 ALLENSTOWN, N.H. -- A mystery that has gone unsolved in Allenstown since the mid-1980s is getting a fresh look with new science.Four bodies -- one woman and three children -- were found left in metal drums in the Allenstown woods."They were stuffed in barrels like they weren't worth anything," said state police Detective John Sonia. "So we think we're dealing with a suspect who has the capacity for this type of violence."

 Investigators said they know many details of the mystery, but they lack answers. They said they're now hopeful that something as simple as tap water can put names with the faces."We knew we weren't dealing with two separate homicides," Sonia said. "They were all linked together."

In November 1985, a hunter found a tipped-over, 55-gallon drum near Bear Brook State Park, not far from a burned-down convenience store."You could see basically packaging of some type, and as he examined closer, he noticed there was a skull there," Sonia said.The hunter had found the remains of an adult woman and a girl, somewhere between 5 and 10 years old. Both had been beaten about the head.But with badly decomposed remains and no missing persons report that matched, the case stalled until 2000, when it was reassigned to another trooper.

"He goes out to the scene, starts looking around and locates another barrel, another 55-gallon metal barrel," Sonia said. "At that point, we find the remains of two female children in that barrel, also."Investigators said they believe the all the remains are closely connected."We believe that all four of these individuals are connected based on the testing that was done, the similarities and the condition of the bodies and how they were disposed of," said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin. "We believe these four individuals are connected, aside from just being the victim of a murder."

"It's possible, and the circumstances make it seem like they're a family, but it's not definite," said forensic investigator Kim Fallon.The youngest victim could be as little as 1 year old. DNA has linked two of the children to the adult, but their specific relationship is unclear. Police said there could be many reasons why, in 24 years, no one went looking for them.

"That was a different time," Sonia said. "You didn't have cell phones back then. You didn't have the Internet back then. People weren't as connected, so it's possible four people went missing and maybe a local police department was notified and it didn't go any further than that, and that's some distance from New Hampshire."
Sonia said the four could be from Canada or transients. There are no reports of four people missing together from that time.

With a case this cold, investigators said they know forensic science is one way to get answers. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has produced composites of three victims based on their remains, but the descriptions are rather broad with large age ranges and race varying from Caucasian to Native American."When you have bodies that are outdoors for a long period of time, they are being exposed to the weather extremes, heat, cold and bacteria,' said Kim Rumrill of the state police forensics lab. "All these things work against you trying to find a DNA profile."

Investigators are now turning to water. A new technique links isotopes found in drinking water to different regions of the country. Those isotopes are found in human hair, and samples from the adult victim are now being tested."If she traveled they can get the travel history because they analyze segments of the hair, each segment separately," Fallon said.Police said it's the first of three steps -- learn where they're from, discover who they are, and then find the killer.

"There's a lot of, I guess, force involved," Sonia said. "Again, it's pretty brutal. So that shows some kind of level of intimacy to take those, to do that to the bodies and to dispose of them the way they disposed of them."State police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 603-271-2663 or

REMAINS FOUND IN ALLENSTOWN REMINDER OF UNSOLVED KILLINGS                                                                                               New Hampshire Union Leader   May 12, 2000 By Cissy Taylor

Officials are still trying to determine if bones found in Allenstown earlier this week belong to a human being or an animal. At the same time, if the bones are human, prosecutors were not prepared yesterday to make a connection between those bones and the remains of two unidentified females found in Allenstown in 1985.

“We don’t know anything yet,” Assistant Attorney General Malinda Lawrence said late yesterday. The bones were found on Tuesday and removed from an area of Bear Brook State Park near the Deerfield line by investigators from the State Police Major Crime Unit. “Whatever was found was turned over to the medical examiner,” Lawrence said. “He has concluded that he’s not going to be able to draw any conclusions without consulting experts in the field.”  

In the past, New Hampshire officials have sought and received the expertise of Marcella Sorg, a forensic pathologist who teaches at the University of Maine in Orono. “It’s probably going to take a week or two to coordinate this,” Lawrence said. She did say the remains found Tuesday had been there for some time. “They are nothing recent,” she said.

It was Nov. 10, 1985, when a hunter walking in the woods in Bear Brook State Park found the skeletal remains of a girl and a young woman covered with canvas. Neither they nor their killer or killers have ever been identified. Their bodies had been there between six months and three years, officials speculated. In the ensuing years, hundreds of leads have been checked out, including dental and school records, but investigators have never been able to identify the females, both of whom appear to have been killed by blows to the head.

The remains found earlier this week were in the same general vicinity of Allenstown, a community of about 5,000 northwest of Manchester. As for the two found in 1985, police don’t know if they were relatives, but there has been speculation they were mother and daughter or perhaps sisters. The adult was a white or Native American female, possibly between the ages of 23 and 33 years old with light brown, curly hair.  She was believed to be between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-7.  The girl was between 8 and 10 years old with dirty blonde or light brown hair. She was about 4-foot-3. 

No clothing was found in the area, reports said at the time, although officials declined to say if either female had been sexually assaulted. Investigators said the younger female had at least one pierced ear. 

Once in a while, state and local officials have reopened the case, taken a closer look and tried to find new ways to discover the identities of the dead. So far, they have been unsuccessful.

BONES FOUND IN WOODS                                                                                                                                                                    Concord Monitor  May 11, 2000
ALLENSTOWN – The state police and the attorney general’s office are investigating whether remains found in woods in Allenstown are human. Officials said the remains have been in the woods for some time. “It appears that whatever remains are there, they were not left there recently, if they are human remains, “ said Senior Assistant Attorney Charles Putnam. He said forensic tests will help determine whether the remains are human.    – The Associated Press

NEW HOPE IN CASE OF '85 N.H. DEATH                                                                                                                                                       AP. Boston Globe  November 28, 1995      
ALLENSTOWN, N.H. -- Police hope techniques not known 10 years ago will help answer some questions about the murders of two people whose remains were found in a state park in Allenstown. Little more is known about the victims than what is engraved on their granite marker in St. Jean the Baptist Cemetery: "Here lie the mortal remains known only to God of a woman age 23-33 and a girl child age 8-10. Their slain bodies were found on November 10, 1985, in Bear Brook State Park." A hunter discovered the two decomposing bodies, wrapped in heavy plastic, near a snowmobile trail. Nearby was a 55-gallon drum authorities believe was used to carry the bodies. In the months after the discovery, hundreds of leads were followed. They went nowhere. Now, hopeful that advances in forensic techniques will make it possible to identify the bodies, state and local police have reopened the investigation.

New Hampshire Union Leader  November 28, 1995

Allenstown (AP)- Police are hoping new techniques will help answer some questions about an old murder. Little more is known about the victims than what is engraved on their granite marker in St. Jean the Baptist Cemetery: "Here lies the mortal remains known only to God of a woman age 22-33 and a girl age 8-10. Their slain bodies were found on November 10, 1985 in Bear Brook State Park." 

 In the months after a hunter found the bodies, hundreds of dead-end leads were followed. Now, state and local police have reopened the case, hoping advances in criminal investigations will at least help them find out who the victims were. "With the advances in forensic science, such as DNA testing, over the years, they're now more things that can be learned than... 10 years ago. We're hoping that we'll at least be able to ID the victims," Allenstown Detective Robert Green said.

Investigators believe the victims were related- perhaps a mother and daughter, possibly siblings- due to similar  dental characteristics. Detectives could only confirm that the woman was 23 to 33 years old, between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 7 inches tall, with curly light brown hair, while the girl was estimated to be between 8 and 10 years old, about 4 feet 3 inches tall, with light brown to blonde hair. 

The bodies were so deteriorated experts could not determine their eye color or weight. The woman and girl apparently had been dead for six months to three years before they were found. The police determined both victims died from blows to the head. They were nude, but police would not say whether they had been sexually assaulted. There had been some dismembering. 

State police investigators tried for seven months to identify the bodies. They issued nationwide bulletins, including registering characteristics of the older victim's teeth with the national Crime Information Center. Dental records produced about 1000 possible matches with missing women, half of which investigators eliminated. The other half required more medical information than was available.

Investigators received several promising leads that proved fruitless, tracking down several women that callers had suspected might be the victims. They checked every elementary school in the state for students who left without having their records transferred, they searched through five years of campground records at Bear Brook State Park, they monitored new entries at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Crime Information Center and they hunted for medical records of missing persons from Cape Cod to California. They also pursued and dismissed theories that the murders were committed by a serial killer or mobster.

"With all the coverage the case had generated, you'd think that somewhere, someone would have missed a daughter or a sister, or even a friend would have missed a friend. Especially during the holiday seasons. It's a sad situation," said Police Chief Norman Connor. About a year ago, Green and state police Sgt  David Goldstein renewed the investigation. Since then, they have met with Maine Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Ryan, who is an expert on identifying skeletal remains. Ryan performed the original autopsy. The two officers also met with forensic anthropologist Dr. Marcella Sorg.

Ten years ago, an artist drew composite pictures of the victims.  "This time, using tissue thickness and muscle tone, we hope Dr. Sorg will be able to create a three-dimensional composite model of what the victims looked like," Green said. He said the new investigation shows the earlier reports that the victims were Caucasian might have been inaccurate. "There's a possibility that they may have been Native Americans and the earlier estimates of their ages, especially the older victim, might be off by five years or so," Green said.
The initial estimate that the victims had been murdered anywhere from six months to three years before they were found might also be wrong, according to Green. "Now we feel there's a chance they could have been murdered even earlier than that," Green explained. There is a question about whether all the evidence gathered  and tested 10 years ago still  is available or suitable for new testing. There is also a possibility that the bodies might be exhumed.


ALLENSTOWN - Eighteen months after he hoisted the remains of a murdered woman and girl from a bed of fallen leaves in the woods near Bear Brook State Park, Police Chief Norman Connor did what he had hoped never to do. He buried them without knowing their names.They were a mother and daughter or sisters, the police believe, and apparently no one missed them for the six months to three years that their bodies lay in the woods, or the year and a half that the bodies lay in the morgue at New Hampshire Hospital."Somebody, somewhere knows something," Connor said, standing between a young birch and blueberry patch where the bodies were found. "But who? Where? It seems like we've tried everything."

In an age when the plight of missing persons spawns national computer networks, fingerprinting and videotaping campaigns, special newsletters, television movies and toll-free hot lines, even milk-carton and grocery-bag posters, no one has sought out this young woman, aged 23 to 33, and child, aged 8 to 10, who vanished.If the two were related, as assumed, it would be the only recent case nationally in which the bodies of two or more murdered family members remain unidentified, according to a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington."You'd think someone -- a parent, grandparent, sibling or friend -- would be tearing up the country looking for them," said Barbara Chapman, executive director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "It's hard to understand."

A deer hunter discovered the bodies on Nov. 10, 1985. It was a Sunday morning, and the badly decomposed remains lay wrapped in heavy plastic several footsteps from a grassy snowmobile trail that snakes from the Bear Brook Gardens mobile home park to a burned-out convenience store near the state park, a popular camping site 10 miles north of Manchester.The woman and child had suffered fatal blows to the head. They were nude, but police would not say whether they had been sexually assaulted. Clues to the murders were scarce: No jewelry or other belongings were found, only the bodies near a trash barrel that may have been used to transport them.

Through forensic tests, authorities soon determined the woman and child were not:
- Tammy Belanger, who was 8 years old when she was last seen on her way to school in Exeter on Nov. 13, 1984;
- Page Jennings, 21, who disappeared after her parents were killed in Jackson on Jan. 16, 1985.
- Shirley McBride of Pittsfield, who has not been heard from since she was reported missing on July 13, 1985, at the age of 15;
- Lisa Snyder, 21, of Bow, who was reported missing on July 4, 1985, and discovered murdered last month in Rollinsford. 

An investigation confirmed only that the woman was between 5-foot-4 and 5- foot-7 with curly light brown hair, the girl about 4-foot-3 with light brown to blond hair. The adult had received extensive dental work, the child none, despite a crooked front tooth that left a gap in her smile. The bodies were so decomposed that forensic experts could not determine their eye color or approximate weight.

What developed, said State Police Cpl. Gary Quint, who searched seven months for the victims' identities, was "the most frustrating case of my life."

After issuing a nationwide bulletin, state and local police canvassed the area, then registered vital information, including characteristics of the older victim's teeth, with the National Crime Information Center in Washington. Dental records produced about 1,100 potential matches with missing women, half of which investigators eliminated in comparative analyses. The other half required more medical information than was available."Day after day, we'd say, 'We have to hit something soon,' " said State Police Sgt. Gary Sloper, who leads the investigation. "We figured we had to get lucky sometime."Instead, they suffered a series of disappointments.

When composite drawings of the victims were distributed throughout the Northeast and Quebec, several people in Allenstown said the woman resembled someone who had left town with several children a couple years earlier. Sloper and Quint tracked them for two weeks, covering four states, eliminating one possibility after another, finally finding the woman and children living in Arizona.

Soon after, investigators learned about a mother and daughter from Maine who matched the general description of the victims. The two had been missing since the time of the murders. Again, though, Sloper and Quint found them alive, this time on another continent. The mother, who had custody of the child, was hiding legally from her former husband, they said.

Then came their best lead. A mother and daughter had vanished from a Maine Indian reservation. Their descriptions and the time of their disappearance seemed a perfect match."We have it this time," Quint remembered telling himself.But several days later, they found the woman and child in another town in Maine.

Since then, the police have:
- Pursued and dismissed theories that the murders were committed by a serial killer or organized crime member;
- Checked every elementary school in the state for students who left without having their records transferred;
- Searched through five years of campground records at Bear Brook State Park;
- Regularly monitored new entries at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Crime Information Center;
- Hunted for medical records of missing persons from Cape Cod to California;
- Returned "countless times" to the spot where the bodies were found to scour the area for evidence;
- Followed several hundred leads, one of which Quint overheard in a Concord barbershop. But that, too, fell through.

The greatest frustration for the police was discovering that many of the nation's 17,800 law enforcement agencies do not provide adequate information on missing persons.Worse, according to Richard Ruffino, who serves on the board of directors of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, many police departments do not even file reports."In this case, a man might have told the police that his wife and daughter had taken off," Ruffino said. "The wife may have had legal custody of the girl, and the police may have said, 'Well, what do you want us to do about it? They aren't breaking any laws.' "Or the woman and child may have died "in a custodial dispute," Ruffino said.

Now, as the police receive fewer and fewer leads, they "wait and wonder," Sloper said. "We have other cases to work on, but I still think a lot about this one. I wonder, 'How can we break it? What can we do that we haven't done already?' "The woman and child may have been transients, Sloper said, perhaps carnival workers whose absence no one noticed. Or perhaps the deaths were a homicidal husband's crime, he said. "Whoever did it will never be able to erase this from their mind," Connor said. "One day their health may deteriorate from having it on their conscience. Maybe then we'll get a break."

Though the police remain anxious for new leads, they released the bodies of the woman and child for burial several weeks ago, prompting an outpouring of affection in Allenstown, a bilingual community with a strong French-Canadian heritage.Connor organized the ceremony."Just because we don't know their names doesn't mean they don't deserve the same respect we do," he said. "I have a daughter and granddaughter, too, you know."

Parishioners at St. John the Baptist Church contributed money for a corner plot in the parish cemetery. The owner of the local funeral home donated a casket and vault. Then the town's Catholic priest and Methodist minister conducted a simple graveside service, leading several town officials, a couple reporters and a photographer in the Lord's Prayer.Connor said he also attempted "to reach a rabbi" in case the victims were Jews, "but I couldn't come up with one in time."

The woman and child were buried in a single steel gray casket that could be easily exhumed if the bodies were claimed. A week later, Jacques Blanchette donated a granite stone for their grave. Blanchette, owner of Epsom Memorials, had carved nearly 25,000 stones, some for relatives, others for friends, but none affected him more deeply than that one, he said.He etched a rose on top of the marker, and carved figures below of the unknown woman and child holding hands and looking skyward."You don't see their faces, but at least you know someone is buried there," he said. "Unfortunately, they may be known only to God."

Someone recently sent Blanchette a donation for the stone, and he used the money to place flowers on the grave. Two days later, an elderly woman made a special offering so Rev. Eugene Pelletier, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church, would say a prayer for the woman and child at the morning's French Mass.

Now Connor, who attended the Mass, stood where their bodies were found. The sun glimmered on his wire-rimmed glasses, and a dog barked in a junkyard where the convenience store once flourished. Connor brushed a black fly away from his gray handlebar mustache."There was a time I thought we'd solve this quickly," he said. "Now I'm not sure when we'll get them home."

GRAVESTONE HONORS MYSTERY VICTIMS                                                                                                                                             Manchester Union Leader May 16, 1987 by Scott Hilyard

ALLENSTOWN—The unidentified remains of a murdered young woman and young girl, buried last week in St. John the Baptist Cemetery, will soon have a headstone to mark their single grave. The headstone reads, “Here Lies The Mortal Remains Known Only To God Of A Woman Age 23-33 And A Girl Age 8-10. Their Slain Bodies Were Found On November 10, 1985 In Bear Brook State Park. May Their Souls Find Peace In God’s Loving care."

Ten lines tell the story. A rose is carved at the top of the stone. In the bottom right corner are the figures of a woman and a girl. They are shown from the back, holding hands and looking off in the direction of a cross. Lines of implied light radiate from the cross. The gray granite stone is at once melancholic and uplifting. Jacques Blanchette is the author of the inscription and the maker of the stone. An Epsom resident, he owns and operates Epsom Memorial.

Usually headstones are his business, but in this instance a headstone was his charity. He was moved by the story of the unknown murder victims. “It was bad enough for those people not to be claimed by anyone. This is just something halfway decent that we could do to show we care, that me and my son Steven care. They were loved once before I guess,” said Blanchette.

The price of the stone is $675. It took Blanchette and his son a half-day to create. “Everybody deserves it, even unidentified people,” he said. The church donated the plot. Petit Funeral Home donated the casket and vault. Blanchette donated the headstone. They have been properly buried and are now either home, far from it, or somewhere in between. 

UNIDENTIFIED PAIR BURIED                                                                                                                                                    Springfield Sunday Republican   May 10, 1987

ALLENSTOWN, NH (AP) – The unidentified remains of a woman and a girl were buried after no one claimer either body. The woman, believed to be about 23, and the girl, about 8, were found nude, wrapped in plastic and buried under leaves in woods not far from the cemetery where they were buried Friday.  Funeral arrangements were made by Police Chief Norman Connor and Tom Petit, who runs a funeral home in the town.

Media Coverage 1986:

SERVICES PLANNED FOR JANE DOE 1 & 2                                                                                                                                               Dec 31, 1986  The Concord Item  By Arthur Bettez

ALLENSTOWN- For most of us Christmas is a happy, festive period in our lives. We gather as families,exchange gifts, and attempt to find the peace and tranquility that the meaning of the day suggests. And this Christmas Jane Doe number 1 and Jane Doe number 2 were one step closer to finding the peace and tranquility that each of us deserve – a proper burial after death.

Jane Doe number 1 and number 2, the names assigned them by police investigators, were released by authorities, placed in sealed coffins, and returned to Allenstown to await spring interment. Police Chief Norman Connor has made arrangements for a priest, minister, and rabbi to officiate at the springtime graveside services that will be conducted at St. John the Baptist Cemetery.                                                                                                                
It was in Allenstown that the two badly decomposed female bodies were found by two hunters on Nov. 10, 1985. The bodies had been inside a 55-gallon barrel which had been tipped over.  Police believe they had been there for several months. 

According to police officer Michael Philbrick, medical experts have concluded that the two persons had been related, either mother and daughter or sisters.  The older one was between 23 and 33 years of age, 5’4” to 5’7” tall, and had curly, brown hair. The experts stated that she had extensive dental work performed during  her short lifetime.  The other body was that of a young girl, perhaps 8 or 10 years old, with light blond hair.

The case drew nationwide coverage. Television stations and newspapers carried composite drawings of the couple and asked that if anyone recognized them to notify the proper authorities.  The police received numerous calls and leads but none of them proved valuable.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever understand it,” Officer Philbrick remarked. “With all the coverage this case has generated, and we have not been able to identify these two people.  Especially at Christmas time, you’d think that somewhere, someone would miss a daughter or a sister, or even a friend would miss a friend.  It’s a sad situation.’

A YEAR LATER, STILL NO CLUES IN DEATHS                                                                                                                Manchester Union Leader  November 16, 1986 by Scott Hilyard

ALLENSTOWN—One year after a hunter discovered the mostly decomposed bodies of a woman and a young girl in the woods near Bear Brook State Park, state investigators continue to release no details about the case and are apparently no closer to identifying the victims, much less discovering who may have murdered them. State police investigator Lt. Martin Heon said this week that few leads have opened in recent months, and though he is not prepared to “give up” on the case, so far investigators have very little information to go on.

The bodies were found a few feet off a little-used snowmobile trail 300 yards from the Bear Brook Gardens Mobile Home Park on the edge of Bear Brook State Park on Nov. 10. They had not been buried and were wrapped together in plastic. There were no clothes, jewelry, or belongings found along with the bodies to provide clues to their identities. They are believed to be either mother and daughter or sisters.

The remains were taken to Augusta, Maine where they were examined by Maine chief medical examiner Dr. Henry Ryan and Dr. Marcella Sorg, a forensic anthropologist and professor at the University of Maine at Orono.  New Hampshire had no medical examiner of its own at the time. Ryan and Sorg deduced that the bodies were that of a woman, age 23 to 33, 5 feet 4 to 5 feet 7, with curly light brown hair, and a girl, 8 to 10 years old, 4 foot 3, with light brown or dark hair.

Each were believed to have been killed by a blow to the head, and may have been dead from six months to three years. At the time, Attorney General Stephen Merrill said (illegible) or whatever new ones have been followed since, the only thing known for sure is that none of them have brought investigators any nearer a solution to the mystery.

“It’s very sad that we’ve been unable to identify them. But, we’ve run with every lead we’ve gotten, and they have all proven to be nothing but dead ends. There are certain issues involved in this case that may never be resolved,” Heon said.  A major portion of the investigation has been to compare medical records of missing persons with what is known about the Allenstown bodies, Heon said. The National Crime Information Center and the FBI have provided investigators with over 900 possible matches, all of which have been eliminated. The NCIC has sent only three or four medical records to New Hampshire investigators in the past three months.

“We exhausted every possible lead early on in the investigation… there’s only so much you can do. But the investigation is “in no way closed. I wouldn’t allow that to happen.” Officials had hoped that the introduction of composite drawings of the victims might bring fresh leads. Heon said the drawings did stimulate a few phone calls, but like all other leads, failed to turn up anything.

Concord Monitor  November 14, 1985   by Ralph Jimemez

The bodies of a woman and girl who were beaten to death have been returned to the state five days after they were found by a hunter near Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown. The badly decomposed corpses were flown to Maine Monday for examination by two specialists – Dr. Henry Ryan, Maine’s chief medical examiner and Dr. Marcella Sorg, the region’s only forensic anthropologist.
From the skeletons, the Maine team determined the woman, between 23 and 33 years old, and the girl, between 8 and 10 years old, were killed by blows to the head at least a year ago. Their bodies were found nude and wrapped in plastic near a trash barrel.
This morning the state police called Dr. Jay Davis Clark of Pittsfield, the state’s only forensic odontologist, a dentist trained to identify bodies by comparing their teeth with the dental records of missing people.  Clark said that he expected to view the bodies soon.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Stephen Merrill said that the corpses’ teeth were compared with the dental records of all highly publicized cases of missing persons in New Hampshire and surrounding states but no match could be made. The Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps a national registry of missing persons, including information such as dental records, at the National Crime Information Center in Washington, D.C.
In cases like the Allenstown homicides, information about the victims, including their height, hair color, sex and dental records, is called into the crime center. The information is encoded using numbers and letters, and the center’s computer scans its lists of thousands of people for close matches. “They have thousands of people who are five-five, 140 pounds with blond hair so that’s useless. You need identifiers like teeth, scars, identifying marks or tattoos,” state police Lt. Marty Heon said. “Fingerprints are classified and filed there but the majority of times, missing persons have not been fingerprinted.”
The information can be obtained almost “instantaneously,” Heon said. New Hampshire state police have not yet contacted the crime center because all of the “knowns” about the victims have not been compiled. That’s where forensic dentist Jay Clark comes in.  Of the many characteristics that identify an individual, teeth are the most durable. “Fingerprints are pretty ideal except that they deteriorate rapidly and the pool of available fingerprints has been steadily declining since the abolition of the draft,” Clark said. Women and children are rarely fingerprinted, though there have been recent campaigns asking parents to keep their children’s prints on file.

 A normal human mouth has 32 teeth, 28 if the four wisdom teeth have been removed.  Each tooth has five sides. “That’s 160 sides that things can happen to, the most common of which is tooth decay,” Clark said. “When you look at the various combinations of tooth decay versus filling work, patterns of missing teeth, shape and size of the tooth, shape of the roots, the pattern of the bone that holds the teeth, the way the upper and lower jaw fits together, no two people on the planet have the same configuration.”
Before information can be used to identify a person, investigators must have the dental records of a suspect for comparison. “Our only difficulty comes when previous dental records have been lost or destroyed or when we don’t know who the dentist of record was so we have nothing to compare it with,” Clark said. “Or there can be a situation where critical teeth that had fillings had been lost at the scene.”

Clark, 38, began taking courses in forensic dentistry eight years ago after being inspired by the television show Quincy which stars a forensic pathologist. Since then, he has taken nearly every forensic dentistry course offered in the nation and now teaches courses in the subject at Northeastern University. “It utilizes skills that any dentist has but applies them in ways not every dentist thinks about,” said Clark who has worked on about 50 cases in New Hampshire so far. “It’s a little bit disturbing and depressing at times but the state has such a low crime rate that my services are rarely called upon.”

Working on cadavers in dental school helped to prepare Clark for the grisly task of identifying bodies that have been burned or badly decomposed. “I’m a religious person, and this body that’s before me is not John Doe any more. This is what he used to live in. This is not a person,” he said. “If I can use the evidence he left behind I may be able to help prevent another person from being murdered. That’s a service for living people.”

In all but five or six of the cases he has worked on, the police had a good idea of the body’s identity. Others presented challenges.  Clark was called in to identify the remains of Barney Siel, the University of New Hampshire student from Pittsfield charged in the death of a drifter. Siel drowned while scuba diving in the ocean off North Hampton in 1983. Clark found that case difficult because he was a friend of the family. Other cases were tough because information was sketchy.

Clark identified an elderly man whose body was found several years ago in the woods behind the state office complex on Concord Heights even though the skull had no teeth in it. A tiny bit of silver used in a filling had become embedded in the man’s jawbone at least 15 years before he died. The cross-shaped bit of silver Clark found by taking X-rays of the skull matched two X-rays of a man that were taken years apart by two different Concord dentists.

He also succeeded in identifying the virtually incinerated body of an accused drug dealer by examining the one tooth left undestroyed by the fire. Only the hottest fires can destroy teeth. “The man had used numerous aliases. He was suspected of having an illegal drug-making operation in the basement of his house which was destroyed by a huge explosion one night. I lucked out and got the only X-ray of that body that existed, and it was of that one tooth,” Clark said. That tooth allowed Clark to assure state police that the body in the basement was really that of the suspected Kensington drug dealer and not someone he had murdered and planted there to throw police off the trail.

LACK OF REPORTS OF MISSING MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS STALLS NH CASE                                                                               Boston Globe, November 14, 1985

CONCORD, N.H. - Investigators throughout New England found no immediate reports of missing mothers and daughters yesterday as officials worked to identify the bodies of a woman and a girl found beaten to death in the Allenstown woods. The man who examined the bodies, Dr. Henry Ryan, Maine's medical examiner and an expert on identifying skeletal remains, said there was some evidence that the brown-haired woman, between 23 and 33 years old, between 5 foot 4 and 5 foot 7 in height, was related to the light-haired girl, between 8 and 10 years old and about 4 foot 3.

"We were able to find details that suggest (a) relationship (between the two victims)," Ryan said in a telephone interview from Augusta. "They aren't airtight by any means." He would not comment further.

Attorney General Stephen E. Merrill announced Tuesday that the bodies, wrapped in plastic strips, had been found by a hunter last Sunday in a wooded area between a trailer park and Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown. The cause of each death, Merrill said, was repeated blows to the head from a blunt instrument, although there was evidence of other injuries. Merrill said the bodies had been dead at least a year. He said the state considered them murder cases.

Bruce E. Mohl, Deputy Attorney General, said yesterday, "We are pursuing the various networks that are available to us, to come up with any leads on the identity of the two individuals who were discovered there. We're obviously going to pursue it as aggressively as we can."Mohl said there were no missing-persons reports in New Hampshire on mothers and daughters. His statement was echoed by other investigators throughout New England.

Sgt. Donald Boudreau, head of the missing-persons unit in the Massachusetts State Police, said he searched his computer bank yesterday to find people who might match the descriptions. "If there are mother-daughter cases in existence, I'm not aware of one," he said.

Ryan, who keeps Maine's missing-persons records, came up blank. So did Sgt. Richard Boyden of the Vermont State Police and Lt. Richard Wheeler in Rhode Island. Officials were still searching yesterday in Connecticut, because missing-persons reports are kept by the state's 85 individual police departments. Carla Branch, a computer expert for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, said she had no reports of missing mother and daughters. 

IDENTITIES ARE SOUGHT IN DOUBLE MURDER                                                                                                                              Manchester Union Leader November 14, 1985 by John Clayton

Attorney General Stephen Merrill reported no developments yesterday in the grisly case of two female bodies found in Allenstown on Sunday. “We are continuing to pursue our leads both in terms of identifying the remains and in terms of possible suspects, and that is all I can say at this time,” Merrill said. The attorney general also said it was not unusual to engage a Maine medical examiner to conduct an autopsy on the remains, which were found near Bear Brook State Park. “New Hampshire is not the only state to send this type of case to us,” said Dr. Henry Ryan, chief medical examiner for the State of Maine.

 “Vermont and Massachusetts have also, and the decision does not totally reflect on the absence of a medical examiner in New Hampshire. We have the only certified forensic anthropologist in the region, and this is an example of a particular case that is best examined in this particular place.”

The team from Maine was able to identify one set of remains as those of a white woman from 23 to 33 years of age, from 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall, with curly light-brown hair.  The second set of remains was described as those of an 8 to 10-year-old white girl, 4 feet 3, with light brown or dark blonde hair. Preliminary autopsy reports were that both had died of a blow to the head with a blunt instrument, said Merrill, although other injuries have not been ruled out as a cause of death.

The nude bodies were wrapped together in plastic, and no belongings have been discovered that would help identify the victims, leaving only dental records and skeletal remains to provide clues. The circumstances called for the services of Dr. Marcella Sorg, the forensic anthropologist to whom Ryan referred. The remains of the two bodies were flown to Augusta, Maine, where the detailed autopsies were performed in 11 hours on Monday.

Although New Hampshire officials claimed the remains were not those of Tammy Belanger, Shirley McBride, or Page Jennings, Ryan said he was not given specific information that would identify the skeletal remains of those missing New Hampshire residents. “We would ordinarily be asked to look for traits if the identity of the bodies was known,” he said, “but they weren’t, so there was nothing presented to us at the time of the exam of that specific nature.”

New Hampshire will be billed for Sorg’s services and for other related expenses, but the costs will be minimal, Ryan said. “We’re talking somewhere around a few hundred dollars,” said Ryan. “I did it on my day off so there’s no expense for me, but for the use of the hospital, the morgue, and charges for transportation and photographs, we will charge the State of New Hampshire so the Maine taxpayers don’t become enraged.”

Sorg, a part-time employee at the University of Maine, is employed by the medical examiner on a fee-for-service basis. She has been consulted on New Hampshire cases in the recent past, including the discovery of five infant corpses in a steamer trunk in Somersworth.

“The problem we have here is called commingling (mixing) of bones,” said Ryan, “and it’s a problem for all archeologists and anthropologists when you try and reconstruct a skeleton. Up here, however, we have a fair amount of commingling cases because we have incidents of mausoleum vandalism or old burial sites being unearthed, and you may have as many as 11 different skeletons to reassemble at one time. In this case, where there was such a marked difference in age -an immature skeleton versus a mature skeleton- there was absolutely no problem with reconstruction,” Ryan said.

Once the delicate task of reassembling the skeletons was completed in the lab in Augusta, Ryan and Sorg had to deal with extraneous details, such as missing bones. Although he declined to discuss specifics of the Allenstown bodies, he did speak in general terms about similar cases. “When we try and reconstruct the skeletons, we have to know some basics, like how the bodies were found, how scattered the bones may have been, and if any were missing. That’s not uncommon in the woods, because animals will carry them away.”

Once the skeletons were reassembled to Ryan’s satisfaction, detailed inspection of the bones began. “We look at any damage to the bones and decide if it was caused by a carnivore (a meat-eating animal), if it is post-mortem (after death) damage, periterminal (time of death) damage, or whether it is a significant injury relating to the death. Dr. Sorg is particularly good at determining whether bone damage was done by trauma (force) or by animals, and in any woods death such as this, we expect to find some missing bones or carnivore damage.”

While the skeletal reconstruction was insufficient to identify the bodies, it did allow for approximate physical descriptions to be released. Ryan stressed, however, that those approximate dimensions can be useless if too much time passes before the bodies are discovered. “When you start looking for missing-people, you have to remember that people can put down a height on their driver’s license that could be off by two inches, the weight is useless in a case like this, eye color is useless, and hair changes color. But if someone has spinal arthritis, for example, or a gold tooth, we’d have something, but only if the X-rays are available to make the identification,” Ryan said.

“Too many times, X-rays are recycled after three to six years for the silver (in the film), and a written record is all that remains. When we start to talk about missing people, we should be gathering things like X-rays and dental records when they’re first missing, then (illegible). “They have adequate dental service to do that.”

Just as the State of Maine has a anthropological specialist in Sorg and Florida has the celebrated dental specialist Dr. William Maples, New Hampshire can claim a specialist of its own in forensic services. “We refer much of our material to Dr. John Berger at the University of New Hampshire,” said Ryan. “He’s an entomologist who studies the insect life associated with a case, and that can be the sole means to tell the time of death when the death has occurred in a time and place accessible to insects, like the out-of-doors during warm weather. There’s no comparison with the way he can pin it down.”

New Hampshire may have Dr. Berger, but what the state does not have is a chief medical examiner of a forensic laboratory like that in other New England states. “We have had the post of a chief medical examiner funded by the Legislature at a salary of $67,000 per year,” Merrill said, “and we have advertised the job in a national journal distributed to MEs (medical examiners) throughout the nation. We have received a number of inquiries about the post, and we have applications from four highly qualified candidates,” said Merrill, who has formed a search committee and hopes to fill the post before the first of the year.

In the meantime, New Hampshire has relied heavily on Dr. Dennis Carlson to serve as primary medical examiner, but the Allenstown case was so special that the Maine experts had to be consulted, Merrill said.
“In this case, the remains were flown to Augusta on a State Police plane because we have a morgue that is equipped to make these cases easier to deal with,” said Ryan, who, at $69,000 a year, is the lowest paid medical examiner in New England.

“There was too much material to haul along for us to go to New Hampshire. We have osteometric boards to measure bones, hot glue guns for skull assembly, and a morgue that is designed to handle everything from the debris to the vapors. It’s all right there, even the reference books that Marcy (Dr. Sorg) would have to haul around.”

Although there is an informal regional cooperation in such matters, Ryan said the decision to bring this case to Maine was a courageous one. “It’s very hard sometimes to break through the political lines, and I have to give New Hampshire credit for doing it,” he said. “Many times politicians are more interested in politics than operations, but this was an example of sound operational thinking.”

AREA WHERE BODIES FOUND NOT ISOLATED                                                                                                                                     Union Leader   November 14, 1985    by Scott Hillyard

ALLENSTOWN -  Though certainly removed from the beaten path, the spot where two decomposed bodies were found in Allenstown Sunday morning can’t be considered deep woods.  The road that leads into Bear Brook State Park, Deerfield Road, is off Route 28, three miles north of where Route 28 intersects with Route 3. Fir-lined Deerfield Road runs past the toll booth where money is collected in the summer months for the park’s use, past the Catamount Pond swimming area, past the picnic areas, past the Old Allenstown Meetinghouse and ultimately splits off to two roads before Route 107 is reached in Deerfield.

Two miles from the park’s entrance is the entrance to Bear Brook Gardens Mobile Home Park. There are 105 mobile homes in the park. Just two-tenths of a mile beyond the mobile home park entrance sits the old Bear Brook Store, damaged by fire two years ago and closed since then. The building still stands but is now surrounded by three junked cars- one on blocks with its hood up- two junked trucks and other items of refuse ranging from a large deep freeze to an old and rusted hot water tank.  The place is now a junkyard.

There is a rutted dirt road that serves as the entrance way to the junkyard.  The road curves around behind the building on the property and continues into the woods. It is a grassy path, 10 feet wide, wider in some spots, narrower in others; but always sufficient for a four-wheel drive vehicle to pass with ease.  The path is an old snowmobile trail, still used in the wintertime but with the extensive network of trails in Bear Brook State Park, this particular trail has been less widely used in recent years.

Before the Bear Brook Store burned, the trail was the major road used by snowmobilers who wished to purchase beer, wine, or soda during their trips across the snow.  The path is well-defined, and the area appears more wide open space than deep woods. A brush fire about 15 years ago killed most of the trees in the vicinity and most of the existing vegetation is short. There is about 10-15 feet of waist high shrubbery on either side of the path, making  (illegible line on microfilm) in this 30-foot band that cuts through the woods,  the tallest trees are barely 20 feet tall and few have trunks as thick as an ankle.

About 150 yards from the junkyard, the trail curves right and the junkyard is lost from sight. Only trees ahead, only trees behind. The path continues to curve and drop off slightly. A 15-foot tree has blocked the path at the 230-yard mark. No more than 20 feet off to the left was the spot where the hunter discovered the plastic covered remains of a young woman aged 23 to 33 and a young girl aged 8-10. Forensic reports indicate the pair had been killed by severe blows to the head. The bark of the junkyard dog chained up barely 200 yards away echoes loudly through the woods. The bark has been incessant, no pause lasting more than a few seconds.

A little more than 100 yards further down the trail from the spot where the bodies were discovered, the first mobile home of Bear Brook Gardens can be seen through the trees. The trail ends in a sandpit at the top of a small hill overlooking the mobile home park.  From Bear Brook Gardens to the junkyard on Deerfield Road, the entire path is approximately 600 yards long and only for a couple hundred yards of that would a traveler be completely hidden by the woods.

Throughout the length of the path, car doors can be heard shutting in Bear Brook Gardens and cars can be heard shuttling down Deerfield Road. The junkyard dog continues to bark as though it had something to bark at. 

Manchester Union Leader Nov 13, 1985   (front page article)

Human remains discovered Sunday in Allenstown are two bodies, a woman and a girl, both murdered. Attorney General Stephen Merrill said yesterday.  Merrill said the remains had been in the woods a year or longer and are not those of Tammy Belanger, 8, who disappeared in Exeter a year ago today. The murdered pair, found by a hunter in woods near Bear Brook State Park, were a 23 to 33 year-old woman, 5 feet 4 to 5 feet 7, with curly light brown hair and a 8 to 10 year-old girl, 4 feet 3, with light brown or dark blonde hair. Both victims were white.

Indications are each had been killed by a blow to the head but Merrill said he has not ruled out other injuries as the cause of death.The bodies were not buried. They were wrapped in plastic, were nude, and were found with no belongings that might provide a clue as to who the victims were.  Merrill said the condition of the remains did not allow investigators to determine if sexual abuse had occurred.

Dental records are being checked in hopes of establishing identification and missing person records are being cross-checked against the evidence available so far.  Merrill said investigators have “some substantial leads in the case” but he also said a check of missing person reports in the area has yielded “no positive findings.” He ruled out the possibility the remains were those of Shirley McBride, 15, of Pittsfield, who disappeared while visiting Concord about 16 months ago, or the remains of Page Jennings, the daughter of Malcolm and Elizabeth Jennings, Jackson innkeepers slain Jan. 16.

Merrill said investigators are fairly confident the Allenstown bodies were placed at the scene at the same time. He said dental records should indicate whether they are related. Investigators initially thought the badly decomposed remains were one body but Dr. Henry Ryan, Maine’s Chief Medical Examiner, and Dr. Marcella Sorg, a Maine anthropologist, established that the grisly contents of the plastic bag were actually two persons.

“They worked from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, and concluded their work from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. today,” Merrill said yesterday. “I really think they deserve a great deal of credit for altering their schedules to accept the remains and work so diligently to come to this conclusion.”

In the wake of a news leak late Sunday describing the remains as those of a young girl, Merrill had strenuously denied speculation that they might be those of Tammy Belanger, whose disappearance on her way to school shocked the state and precipitated a massive search. No clues in her disappearance have yet surfaced.He also ruled out the possibility the remains might be those of Shirley “Tippy” McBride. “These conclusions were reached on disparities of height, hair color, and dental records,” Merrill said.

An unofficial record kept by state police lists 180 missing persons in New Hampshire, according to Capt. James Broderick. Broderick said the actual number is not known because no central agency keeps track of missing persons. The list of 180 was compiled by state police personnel from the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. Of the 180, an estimated 95 to 98 percent are under the age of 18 and are presumed to be runaways, Broderick said. Broderick said not all missing persons are listed on the Telecommunications System.

He also said that hunters in the Granite State find about two bodies each year. “Some years we’re likely to find three or four,” he said. “Most of the time it’s homicide although that doesn’t always hold true.”

Boston Globe, November 13, 1985 by John Milne

CONCORD, N.H. - Attorney General Stephen E. Merrill said yesterday that skeletal remains found Sunday in a wooded area of Allenstown belong to a young woman and girl who had been beaten to death and their bodies wrapped in plastic. A law enforcement source said the way the bodies had been dumped suggested the killings may have been done by a professional. Merrill said cause of death was injury to the head with a blunt instrument, but he added autopsies were incomplete.

According to Merrill, the victims had been dead at least a year and the bodies were wrapped in strips of heavy plastic, not unlike the plastic from trash bags. There were wrapped together, he said, which had led to the early conclusion that it was one body. The bodies were not buried.

"These cases are both being treated as homicides," Merrill said. He said he has ruled out any possibility the bodies, a woman 23 to 33 years old and a girl 8 to 10 years old, might be those of any persons known to be missing in the area. After the press conference, a law enforcement source close to the investigation said, "Certain aspects of the commission of the crime and the manner in which the skeletons were found have caused us to consider the possibility that this was a professional killing." Merrill refused comment.

The preliminary identifications were made by Dr. Henry Ryan, Maine's medical examiner and an expert in identifying partial remains, and Marcelle Sorg, a forensic anthropologist and a professor at the University of Maine at Orono. Merrill described the adult as being between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot- 7, with curly light brown hair. The child, he said, was about 4- foot-3 and had light brown or dark blonde hair. Furthur examination is needed to determine if the two are related, he said.

The bodies were so badly decomposed that Merrill said he did not know if they were clothed. He said blows to the head were the probable cause of death, although he said it was possible the victims had other injuries. He said no evidence had been found of gunshot wounds and further examinations would tell if they had been sexually assaulted.

Sgt. Ronald Montplaisir of the police department in Allenstown, a community of 4,400 located between Manchester and Concord, said a hunter found the remains about 8:35 a.m. Sunday behind the Bear Brook Gardens trailer park and about 600 feet from the boundary of Bear Brook State Park. Montplaisir said they were in a wooded area far from any roads. Merrill said he could not tell if the pair were killed where the remains were found or whether the bodies had been moved there.

Records of the 12 to 15 missing persons in New Hampshire were already checked and so far no match has been made, Merrill said. He said his office had ruled out the possibility the child was Tammy Belanger, an Exeter girl missing since a year ago today, or that the woman was Page Jennings, the daughter of Malcolm and Elizabeth Jennings, Jackson innkeepers who were found slain in their White Mountain home on Jan. 16.

Girl And Woman Were Murdered, Police Say
Concord Monitor   November 13, 1985  by Learned Dees and Ralph Jimenez

The decomposed human remains found Sunday in Allenstown are those of a woman and a girl, according to information contained in autopsy reports released yesterday. In an afternoon news conference, Attorney General Stephen Merrill said the autopsies revealed that the bodies belong to two females; one between 23 and 33 years-old, the other a girl between 8 and 10 years-old. The adult was described as being between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-7, with curly light brown hair. The child was described as being 4-foot-3, with light brown to blond hair.

The attorney general’s office is treating the deaths as homicides. Merrill said that police had compared the corpses’ dental records with those of any highly-publicized cases of missing persons in New Hampshire and surrounding states but no match could be made
The cause of death in each instance was a blow to the head, although the findings do not exclude other injuries which may have contributed to the deaths, Merrill said. The autopsies showed that the nude victims were wrapped in plastic in the woods near Bear Brook State Park when they were found by a hunter. The bodies were partially covered by leaves and may have, at one time, been in a barrel near where they were found, according to investigators.

“We are fairly confident that the bodies were placed at that scene at the same time,” Merrill said. However, he said investigators are not certain whether the two were killed in the woods or at another location. Nearly all of the residents of the mobile home park near where the bodies were found were interviewed by police and asked if they had noticed any suspicious activity in the area since this summer.  Though autopsy reports indicate that the victims were killed at least a year ago, officials would not comment on whether the bodies had been dumped in the Allenstown woods more recently.

According to Merrill, the color of the hair, the height and the dental records rule out the possibility that the remains are those of either Tammy Belanger, 8, of Exeter, who disappeared one year ago, or Shirley McBride, 15, of Pittsfield, who disappeared in July of 1984.

The remains were flown Monday to Kennebec Valley Hospital in Augusta, Maine, for examination by Drs. Marcelle Sorg and Henry Ryan, Maine medical examiner. Sorg is the only forensic anthropologist in New England. She said that she is usually called in when there are skeletonized remains because a pathologist is not used to dealing with bones.
Severe decomposition often makes the identification process more difficult, but in the case of the Allenstown bodies, the wrapping around them added a new dimension to the problem. “The presence of plastic reduces our ability to predict because it diminishes the access of insects which delays decomposition,” Sorg said. “Since the bodies were wrapped in plastic, it could mean that the bodies could have been there longer.”

Merrill said his office is currently cross-checking cases of missing persons in New England, but so far no matches have been made. No clothing or other pieces of evidence were found at the scene, but Merrill said investigators hope to identify the remains within a week or so. “The dental remains are good and we certainly believe we will be making a positive identification,” Merrill said.

The discovery of the bodies has disrupted the quiet atmosphere at Bear Brook Gardens 1, the mobile home park located just several hundred yards from the site. David Loucks, manager of the 86-home trailer park for 10 years, characterized the homeowners as long-term residents, mostly working parents. “This is a nice, secluded area,” he said.

“We’ve been here for four years now and this is an extremely stable park with no rental units,” said Dennis Fowler, a park resident and chairman of Allenstown’s planning board. “It’s kind of surprising that nobody found them there before,” Fowler said. “But as I understand it, there are some woods roads that come down into there from the Deerfield Road. You could drive a truck right into there and nobody would think much about it. Everybody is a little shook up. It’s kind of scary actually. Living out in the boonies, you expect to be immune from that sort of thing.”

AG: BODY NOT LINKED TO TAMMY                                                                                                                                                    Manchester Union Leader November 12, 1985

ALLENSTOWN – Attorney General Stephen Merrill said yesterday there is no connection between human remains found in woods by a hunter and the disappearance one year ago this week of an Exeter schoolgirl. The partially decomposed remains were discovered in Bear Brook State Park just three days before the one-year anniversary of Tammy Belanger’s disappearance. The discovery sparked widespread speculation that the remains might be those of the shy third grader who disappeared Nov. 13, 1983, on her way to school. Police believe the pony-tailed girl was abducted. Her body has never been found.

The remains found Sunday, according to a law enforcement source who asked not to be identified, were 54 inches (4’ 6”) long and were inside a plastic bag wrapped in canvas. The remains were said to be intact. They were found by a hunter at about 8:30 a.m. approximately 600 feet from Bear Brook State Park property and behind the Bear Brook Gardens Mobile Home Park.

Yesterday, state and local police were going door to door at the mobile home park, but would not comment on the reasons for doing so. Assistant Attorney General Gregory Swope said last night he could neither confirm nor deny the report on the length of the skeletal remains. “The autopsy will continue into tomorrow,” he said. So far it has provided no “official link to Tammy Belanger. What preliminary sense we have from the forensic investigation diminishes the likelihood it is Tammy Belanger.”

“At this point there is no link whatsoever between the Allenstown remains and the Tammy Belanger case,” Merrill said. Merrill said his investigators told him the Allenstown remains had long hair but he said the gender of the remains have not conclusively been determined. “The individual that I spoke to who had actually seen the remains was neither willing nor able to draw that conclusion,” Merrill said of the remains gender. He described the remains as “deteriorated.”

Law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, said hair on the Allenstown remains was lighter than that of Tammy Belanger, who had dark brown hair and eyes. They also said initial reports that the remains were of a young girl were incorrect and that the remains likely belong to a woman.  The bones were to be examined by Maine Medical Examiner Henry Ryan, an expert in identifying skeletal remains, Merrill said. A preliminary report on the cause of death and a possible identification was due in 48 hours or less, he said.

On the Allenstown case, Merrill said,“We have made a request for all missing persons in that area. We’re going to pursue every aspect of this case and certainly cross-check it against any case that would include Tammy Belanger,” he said. Merrill said he had contacted the Belangers on Monday morning “to allay their suspicions.”

In addition to Tammy Belanger, police have been searching for a 15-year-old Pittsfield girl, Shirley “Tippy” McBride, for over a year. She was last seen in Concord on July 13. Police also continue to search for a 21-year-old Bow woman who disappeared July 4 in Dover.  Lisa K. Snyder was last seen about 7:30 p.m. at the home of her sister, Laurie Arnault of South Pine Street. Arnault told investigators she last saw Snyder getting ready to go out to a local pub, The Norseman, on the Miracle Mile. The pub was closed that weekend but Snyder apparently did not know.

Snyder was known to have hitchhiked often and friends believe she may have hitchhiked that night. She is described as 5 feet 5, about 120 pounds, with dark blond hair. She was last seen wearing dungarees, a white and purple blouse, black boots, large silver earrings and a necklace and bracelet that matched.

In the case of Tammy Belanger, the third grader disappeared last year during her 10-minute walk to the Lincoln Street elementary school. No one had realized she was missing until she failed to return home in the afternoon and her parents contacted the school. Her disappearance marked a massive search in the Exeter area but police said they found no trace of her. Her parents and Exeter police planned a news conference today, the eve of the one-year anniversary of her disappearance, to discuss the status of the investigation. A convicted sexual offender has been identified by police as their lone suspect in the case but he has not been charged. Nelson Belanger, Tammy’s father, said the news conference was in response to numerous media requests for interviews.

Concord Monitor    November 11, 1985     by Monitor Staff Writers

ALLENSTOWN – An autopsy is scheduled to be performed today on a partially decomposed body discovered yesterday by a hunter in the woods near Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown. The remains were transported this morning to Kennebec Valley Hospital in Augusta, Maine, for examination by Dr. Marcella Sorg, New England’s only forensic anthropologist, and Dr. Henry Ryan, Maine medical examiner. Sorg is a professor at the University of Maine at Orono and is a specialist in the identification of human remains.

Assistant Attorney General Gregory Swope said investigators have not determined whether the body is male or female. However, Allenstown Police Chief Norman Connor, who saw the body, said last night, “Although I am no expert, it appeared to be that of a girl.”

Attorney General Stephen Merrill said it was impossible to identify the body by a visual examination. The body, he said, “was certainly there a substantial period of time – more than two weeks.”  Merrill said his office is “following all missing persons (reports) and coordinating that information with Dr. Ryan’s report.”  Preliminary findings are expected tomorrow morning, with a full report due Wednesday, Merrill said.

The two New Hampshire girls known to be missing are Tammy Belanger of Exeter, who disappeared almost a year ago, and Shirley McBride of Pittsfield. Belanger was 8 years old when she was last seen on her way to school Nov. 13, 1984. Her disappearance drew intense media attention, but an extensive search has failed to locate her.  Last week, Exeter Police Chief Frank Caracciolo said the Belanger investigation is at a standstill. The Exeter police department is following the state police investigation, Sgt. Russell Charleston said today. He would not say whether his department is involved in the case. 

The Concord police department has not entered the Bear Brook case, Sgt. Ralph Lewis said this morning, although it is still searching for McBride.  McBride, nicknamed Tippy, was last seen on July 13, when she left her sister’s apartment on Union Street in Concord.

HOOKSETT, ALLENSTOWN  DEATHS PROBED                                                                                                                            Manchester Union Leader November 11, 1985 by Robert Kinerk

Authorities are investigating as a possible homicide the shooting death of a Hooksett man Saturday and officials are trying to identify a composed body found yesterday in Allenstown. Unofficial reports indicated the body found in Allenstown may have been that of a young girl but state Attorney General Stephen Merrill last night denied any possible link to the year-old Tammy Belanger case. He said no details would be known until tests were completed in the next few days.

Merrill said reports he had received from people at the scene near Bear Brook State Park did not indicate the body was that of a young girl and there was no early determination of whether the remains were those of a male or female. Police have transferred the remains to Augusta, Maine.  A forensic examination of the remains will be made today by Maine Medical Examiner Henry Ryan.

In the Hooksett investigation, Assistant Attorney General Tina Schneider said last night the possibility that Daniel N. Paquette, 36, of 89M Whitehall Road, fell victim to a stray shot from a hunter’s gun has not been ruled out. Paquette’s body was found outside his home about 11:30 a.m. Saturday. A neighbor said Paquette’s back yard is wooded and “we hear gunshots all the time.” Assistant Attorney General Gregory Swope said a hunter discovered the remains…  (The remainder of this article discusses the Paquette death)


  1. I tend to think the bodies were placed in the barrels at a separate location not far from the crime scene, then the barrels were moved behind the bear brook store. Me...j