The names of Judith Whitney and Kathleen Daneault came off the list of unsolved crimes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts this week after lingering there for three decades, but more than 100 in New Hampshire alone are still mysteries in search of an answer.
The state's cold case unit, a team of investigators and prosecutors tasked with chasing long-ago crimes, maintains a public database describing in sometimes chilling detail what happened to the victims of as-yet unknown killers:
- David Pickett, 59, found on a beach in New Castle on Feb. 4, 1993, stabbed in the back and throat slashed.
- Two Portsmouth Beauty School students, Laura Kempton in 1981 and Tammy Little in 1982, who both died of severe head injuries suffered in their apartments.
- An unidentified woman and three unidentified girls under the age of 10, their dismembered remains found in two steel drums 15 years apart in the woods around Allenstown. They were probably killed between 1977 and 1985.
- Patricia Ann Wood, born in 1972, disappeared from her Swanzey home in 1976 but it wasn't discovered by authorities until 1987. The victims' database says her disappearance is "very suspicious."
The oldest case is from 1966, when Everett Delano was shot to death during an apparent robbery at Sanborn's Garage in Andover. The most recent is Thomas Enquist Sr., who was shot to death in his truck on Route 101 in Auburn in November 2010, the year the cold case unit was launched.
Eight of the deaths have been solved, including Whitney's. The unit announced Tuesday that a lengthy investigation, including new DNA testing, had linked Edward Mayrand to Whitney's 1987 strangulation near Keene. Mayrand, who died in prison in 2011 while serving a sentence for a 1994 murder in Providence, Rhode Island, was also linked to the 1983 strangulation of 25-year-old Daneault in Gardner, Massachusetts.
Joseph Early Jr., the district attorney in Worcester County, Massachusetts, said he was determined to pursue unsolved crimes after hearing from the father of a 16-year-old lifeguard who disappeared in 2000 in Warren. Molly Bish's body was found three years later. No one has ever been charged in her death.
"When I came into office, I took a particular interest in the so-called cold cases," Early said in a statement. "It was John Bish, the father of Molly Bish, who asked me to call my unit that looks into older cases the Unresolved Case Squad and not the Cold Case Squad. He said cold case made him think of boxes collecting dust in closet."
Even without being able to convict Mayrand, Early and Benjamin Agati, the assistant attorney general in New Hampshire who led the Mayrand probe, said there is satisfaction in solving old mysteries.
"Despite the death of the only suspect in the case," Early said, "I felt that it was important that the family of Kathleen Daneault know with some certainty that Mayrand was in fact Kathleen's killer."
Daneault's family praised the investigators.
"We hope you all know how grateful we are for everything that you have done by not forgetting about Kathy and continuing to pursue every possible lead," they said in a statement.
Even with a living suspect, a conviction is no sure thing. The New Hampshire unit charged David McLeod in 2010 with setting the fire that killed a family of four in 1989 in Keene, but a jury couldn't reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared in December 2013. Prosecutors said they won't retry McLeod.
Agati told The Associated Press on Tuesday that an enormous amount of detailed effort goes into solving old crimes.
"It's a very intense investigation," he said. "When you talk about the term in everyday meaning, you might use the term fine-toothed comb. I didn't even know what the term meant until I joined the cold case unit."