New Police Efforts Aim to Close Vermont Cold Cases

A new reorganization of the Vermont State Police criminal division has created the agency’s first-ever major crime unit. It will handle new homicides, missing persons cases, and officer-involved shootings, with another prime responsibility being cold cases. Several dozen unsolved homicides and missing persons cases with suspicious circumstances have vexed Vermont investigators for decades.

Before, state police detectives revisited unsolved case files when they had a chance between their other daily work. Now, there will be resources specifically dedicated to the complex and time-consuming cold case investigations, said Capt. J.P. Sinclair of the Vermont State Police.

"We got a lot of good help from our friends over at New Hampshire State Police; they're a few years ahead of us in this," Sinclair noted.

Sinclair said five detectives assigned to the Major Crime Unit have been working on amassing a master list of old investigations they will put fresh eyes on. Additionally, VSP is working to develop a new website and other tools to collect tips from the public.

"Any time that we can get people talking about something—they may have kept a piece of information from way back that they may have thought was insignificant, that maybe they didn't want to bother anyone with, but now the renewed attention on any specific case may prompt them to come forward," Sinclair told New England Cable News. "There is no piece of information that we would call 'insignificant;' they can all be helpful to a case."

Steve England, a close friend of Audrey Groat, has been waiting more than two decades to find out what happened to the Northfield, Vermont mother. Groat has not been seen since 1993. Police have long suspected foul play, but Groat's remains have never been found and no murderer has been brought to justice.

"The frustrating thing is you just don't know," England told necn.

England said he appreciates the renewed energy Vermont State Police is paying to old investigations, and hopes revisiting leads and generating new ones can help put Audrey Groat to rest. "We’re going to find her," England said.

Earlier this week, another unsolved Vermont disappearance was making headlines. Investigators in Middlebury announced they're keenly interested in millionaire murder defendant Robert Durst, who is currently suspected in the killing of friend Susan Berman in 2000. Middlebury Police believe it's possible Durst snatched and killed Middlebury College freshman Lynne Schulze in late 1971.

Schulze had bought a snack from a store Durst owned at the time right before she vanished, lead investigator Kristine Bowdish said.

"I would love to bring some resolution to this, whether it's with Robert Durst or a different lead—I’m not sure where it will come from—but I would love to give some resolution to the family," Bowdish told reporters Tuesday.

Bowdish asked anyone with information on Robert Durst’s time in Vermont, or anyone who may remember seeing Lynn Schulze or suspicious activity in Middlebury during December of 1971 to contact her at kbowdish@middleburypolice.org.

Vermont State Police investigators accept tips online, and tipsters may remain anonymous if they want to. Click here to submit a tip online.

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