Man Sentenced to Life in Prison in 1992 Cold Case Murder

A Massachusetts man found guilty of murdering a Boston woman in her South End apartment more than 25 years ago has been sentenced to life in prison, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

James Witkowski, 45, was found guilty Monday of killing Lena Bruce on July 11, 1992, when he was 19 and homeless.

Investigators say Bruce, who was 21, was bound with a telephone cord, sexually assaulted and asphyxiated. Jurors did not consider a sexual assault charge because the statute of limitations had expired.

Officials say the intruder got in through an open window that night by a fire escape in an alley behind the apartment building.

Sperm cells were found at the scene and skin cells were found beneath Bruce’s fingernails. Both were stored under laboratory conditions. In 1998 the skin and sperm cells were determined to be a DNA match.

A DNA profile was uploaded to an FBI database, but no matches were found.

Witkowski was arrested in 2014 for violating probation in connection with an assault and battery conviction and was ordered to provide a DNA sample, which ended up matching the profile found at the scene of Bruce’s death.

He was indicted for first-degree murder in 2015. Both of Bruce’s parents had passed away by the time of Witkowski’s arrest.

An impact statement from the Bruce family said the sentencing was a special moment.

"Our 'Diamond In the Rough' was taken from us during the beginning of her destiny,” said the statement. "Lena grew up in the times where the saying was, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' She impacted people where ever she journeyed in life, including Boston. We have lost our parents and a brother during the wait for Justice for our sister." 

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