1970s cold case remains open after investigators exhume wrong body at cemetery
HAMDEN, Conn. (WFSB/Gray News) - Police in Connecticut are looking to use DNA to crack a nearly 50-year-old cold case. But they first need to recover the victim’s body after digging up the wrong one.
The East Haven Police Department said the issue is the case goes back decades, and the Hamden cemetery records aren’t that great with many unmarked graves.
“We’re going off of basically a handwritten drawing of the cemetery and of the plots. What we’re finding is that there are a large number of unmarked graves, and there is a number of people who weren’t necessarily documented when they were buried,” said East Haven Police Chief Joseph Murgo.
WFSB reports the grass is high inside the old cemetery, and some of the tombstones date back centuries.
In August 1975, police said a woman was strangled with her body found in a ditch where a Carmax dealership is currently located.
“Throughout the years, several generations of detectives investigated the case, but we were never able to identify her. We were never able to lock in on a definite suspect,” Murgo said.
Investigators said they discovered “Jane Doe” was buried in Hamden’s State Street Cemetery. With advances in DNA testing, they’re hoping to crack the case but finding her has been difficult.
“The State Street Cemetery has been abandoned for many years; it has come under fire for keeping really inaccurate records. So, that’s a challenge we’re facing,” Murgo said.
Authorities said they know the woman’s remains are in a specific area, but the casket exhumed on Wednesday contained the remains of a man and not their “Jane Doe.”
However, investigators said they’re not about to give up.
“Forty-seven years is a long time to wonder what happened to your loved one, and there is somebody out there that wants some sense of closure. It’s our hope that we’re able to bring that sense of closure to our victim’s family,” Murgo said.
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