Murder by Fire – Unsolved Murder of Michael Cochran in Dedham, ME

On the morning of February 18th, 1981 a fire on Sumac Rd brought authorities to the property. A full 6 days later on the 24th, the body of Michael Cochran was pulled from the debris. Initially, it was believed that cause of Michael’s death was accidental but this fire was later declared an arson and the details of the incident determined that he was likely murdered.

Michael’s cause of death was ultimately the fire due to the level of carbon monoxide in his bloodstream, however he seemed to be on the floor prior to the fire. The area underneath his body was clean glass, indicating Michael was likely unconscious on the glass prior to the fire’s ignition.

Michael lived in the home with his girlfriend, Linda Gray and another man. The night of the fire a man named Paul Pollard, a friend of Michael’s, was seen fleeing from the fire.

Michael’s mother believes that the fire was a result of a drug bust the month before in nearby Holden. One of the men who was arrested in the bust had suspected that Michael had snitched, leading to the arrests even though there was no evidence this occured.

Reports indicate that there was talk of a call from a man jailed on rape and drug trafficking charges to two other men with extensive criminal backgrounds to have Mike “taken care of”. After 4 years, all 3 men were indicted on murder charges but they were ultimately later dismissed due to lack of evidence in the case.

Michael’s mother has written a book and has a website where she continues to pursue justice for her son. She firmly believes that she and the police know who killed Michael, they are just missing the evidence to put them away and successfully convict them in court. She has written a book called, “A Maine Murder” and she continues to run a website for Michael’s case at http://murderofmikecochran.com/

http://murderofmikecochran.com/36-years-later-PPH-4-2019-edit.html

https://www.foxbangor.com/news/item/46974-mom-talks-about-1981-dedham-homicide/

https://www.darkdowneast.com/episodes/februaryunsolved

Hit and Run? The Curious Case of Travis Monroe Worcester, MA

Travis Monroe was 17 years old and a junior at Burncoat Highschool in Worcester, where he lived all his life. Travis lived with his mother – and you would be hard pressed to find a mother that has pursued justice for her son as valiantly as Travis’s mother, Christi Berry has. Still this case remains unsolved.

The facts of the case are pretty straight forward , at 5:49 am on 10/01/2006 a teacher called 9-1-1 after seeing a person in the road. Travis was found dead on the road near Gunnarson Rd and Fales Street with blood coming from his ears, nose and mouth and his pupils fixed and dilated. It was believed he was struck walking home from a movie on Saturday night.

Where suspicion comes in is, several people indicated seeing Travis stumbling near the road prior to the 9-1-1 call. It is unknown if he was having a medical issue or was injured. Autopsy indicated that there was no drugs or alcohol in his system. His injuries were consistent with being struck by an automobile but Travis’s mother reported there has also been significant gossip about a planned attack on her son. The medical examiner has ruled the official cause of death as “undetermined” but caused by “blunt impact to the head” for which a vehicle could not be ruled out.

This case has sadly reached the statute of limitations as a Hit and Run case. His mother continues to pursue Justice for Travis and highlight his case in the media. She deserves answers, She deserves justice. If you know anything, please contact the Worcester Police department at 508-799-8651.

https://www.telegram.com/story/lifestyle/2020/08/26/opinionfirst-person-searching-for-justice-for-travis-monroe/113857886/

https://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/2016/12/10_years_without_justice_death.html

https://www.facebook.com/Travis-Monroe-217660111056/

https://www.wcvb.com/article/10-years-later-mother-struggles-for-answers-about-sons-unsolved-death/8836060#

https://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/2017/02/mother_of_travis_monroe_hopes.html

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/telegram/name/travis-monroe-obituary?id=13769792

https://www.worcestermag.com/story/news/2017/01/19/unresolved-search-justice/10908792007/

Elijah Lewis

When I see a face like this on a missing poster it brings me back to the Caylee Anthony Case. The innocent smile tugs your heart and you wonder what could have happened to such a sweet little one. I can’t for the life of me understand why these cases always end up with the most heartbreaking endings usually at the hands of people these children should have been able to trust to love them and care for them… certainly trust them not to murder them. Unfortunately, in this case, this is not how things unfolded.

Elijah Easton Lewis was born in Mesa, Arizona on January 7, 2016. A fourth child to his mother, Danielle Denise Dauphinais, also called “Dee” and the third child born to his father, Timothy Lewis. Danielle would have a total of 6 children.

I first came to be aware of this case when news broke that Elijah Lewis, age 5 was missing on October 14, 2021. Right away the story did not make sense – was he just missing? Was he missing a month? Was he missing 6 months? No one seems to know.. His mother was in a relationship with a man named Joseph “Jo” Stafp and they reportedly just had a newborn child that she dropped off at the hospital because she was unable to care for the child.

Surrendering the child led to CPS wanting to check on the status of the other children in the home. Dauphinais had several stories about Elijah’s whereabouts but refused to provide verifiable information. She had had custody for only a little over a year after his father sent him to live with his mother from Arizona on May 27th, 2020 after having custody of the child since he was one. I have not seen information as to why the custody switch occurred especially after court records indicate that Lewis felt that Dauphinais was an “implusive” and “violent” and was aware of her addiction issues. The decision seems to make little sense but I could find no sources with any further information on the father before or after the boy went missing. No public appeals. No interviews, Nothing. It’s also telling that in all of her frustration with Elijah, it’s not mentioned that she tried or intended to try to send him back to live with his father.

Danielle reportedly told friends and family that she was going to send Elijah to California to live with a friend or relative due to his “behavioral issues”, but apparently that never occurred. Dauphinais had previously given up the rights to 3 of her six children, and CPS has custody of the young daughter and newborn but Elijah was the only child that could not be accounted for. A friend of this so called mother indicated that Dauphinais told her that Elijah was “the next Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer” and admitted that she had no emotional connection to him and that she wanted him “gone”. She reportedly said to this friend, Erika Wolfe, that she kept Elijah in his room because she couldn’t trust him anymore.

A large scale search was made for Elijah, including extensive searching of the Sunset Drive property in Merrimack, NH where the family lived. Mom and her boyfriend, feeling the heat, skipped town as they were being pursued by the police for more extensive questioning in this case. The police were concerned quickly that the case was not going to have a happy ending.

A break in the case occurred when youths in Ayer, MA found a cell phone and turning it into authorities. This found provided invaluable information including the location information for where the phone had been and phone information on another phone that was used to track the whereabouts of the rogue parents. Dauphinais and Stapf were arrested in the Bronx on 10/17/21 and charged with child endangerment and witness tampering charges. Both have plead not gulty and they have their next court date scheduled this month. They are being held in jail until that time.

The cell phone location also lead the police to a small park in a rural neighborhood of Abington, MA. Searches of the park with Cadaver dogs lead to the discovery of the body, later identified with dental records as Elijah buried in a shallow grave. Cause of death for the child has not yet been determined however toxicology and more extensive autopsy studies are still being completed. It is expected that the charges will be upgraded in this case but without a certain cause of death it could be difficult to obtain the murder conviction(s) that I personally hope to see in this case.

https://www.doj.nh.gov/news/2021/20211122-elijah-lewis.htm

Case Update #1 11/23/21 The medical examiner has come back with Elijah’s cause of death as violence and extreme neglect. His face and his head showed signs of trauma and his blood contained fentanyl . The saddest part yet is he had bed sores which suggests to me that this was serious, long standing abuse. I am hoping to hear very soon that the charges are upgraded to murder.

Case Update #2 12/28/21

Joseph Stump has requested and been granted a continuance until April 2022 due to the complexity of the case. There was no update on the charges against Danielle Dauphinanis – she was also scheduled for a Dispositional hearing on the 16th but I could find no documentation as to whether that hearing has occurred.

https://www.courts.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt471/files/documents/2021-12/120721stapf-mot_0.pdf

https://www.thedailybeast.com/danielle-dauphinais-called-missing-son-elijah-lewis-ted-bundy-and-jeffrey-dahmer

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/10/24/metro/sunday-prayer-vigil-planned-elijah-eli-lewis-merrimack-nh/

https://www.masslive.com/police-fire/2021/10/elijah-lewis-what-we-know-in-the-case-of-the-missing-5-year-old-boy-found-dead-in-massachusetts-on-saturday.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mom-n-h-boy-missing-6-months-asked-other-people-n1281819

https://www.wmur.com/article/investigation-continues-into-merrimack-boys-death/38058639#

https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/10/19/elijah-lewis-danielle-dauphinais-joseph-stapf-missing-charges-family-friend/

http://indepthnh.org/2021/10/24/elijah-lewis-5-identified-by-dental-records-cause-of-death-pending/

Holly Piirainen

New Hope in a Cold Case?

Holly Kristen Piirainen was born on 1/19/1983 and was the only daughter to Richard and Christina who also had two young sons.

August 5th, 1993 in Sturbridge, Holly Piirainen was just 10 years old when she went with her 5 year old brother to her grandmother’s neighbors to see some new puppies. When her brother returned without her, her family went looking but only found one red tennis show. The boy indicated Holly told him to go home – it is unknown if it was too save him from also being abducted. Despite the family’s immediate search, Holly had disappeared and was nowhere to be found. There was talk that her leaving behind of the shoe could have been intentional, as a sign she had been abducted.

2 16-year old girls up the street from Holly reported seeing a creepy man in a brown truck with a white cap on the street at the time of the abduction. He slowed down to a crawl and creeped them out by driving slowly by them multiple times. The girls noted that he headed up to where Holly had been and when he came back their way he didn’t slow. The truck was driven by a white, middle aged man with facial hair and a cap.

Holly’s skeletal remains were found by Hunters on 10/23/1993 in Brimfield, MA off 5 bridges Road, her cause of death has not been released by police.

More recently, Police have indicated that there has been evidence tying the case to a suspect named David Edmund Pouliot who died in 2003 of CHF/Diabetes but they have not released the details of that evidence. A body was exhumed in the case of a 22 year old named Noah Breaux who died of an overdose 4 years after Holly’s death. It’s been reported that there was a letter buried with Noah, however if there was a letter it seems to have been too deteriorated as nothing seems to have come of the exhumation.

Another person of interest in this case was Randy Stanger, who was also tied to the area. It is unclear if due to the above evidence if he has completely been ruled out in this case.

Holly was laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery in Grafton, MA.

https://www.boston25news.com/news/local/source-body-exhumed-mass-connection-with-unsolved-disappearance-murder-holly-piirainen/2YVQ7VMJPFAIDG44SX53LJZ2HA/

https://www.westernmassnews.com/news/investigation-continues-into-unsolved-murder-of-holly-piirainen/article_e7a01744-2e01-11eb-aa9c-4f8f919b7293.html

https://www.facebook.com/hollypiirainen/

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9983226/holly-kristen-piirainen

https://www.chillingcrimes.com/blogs/news/holly-piirainen

https://abcnews.go.com/US/massachusetts-cold-case-linked-dead-man/story?id=15280841

https://unsolvedmysteries.fandom.com/wiki/Holly_Piirainen

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2081602/Holly-Piirainen-case-New-forensic-evidence-links-David-Pouliot-1993-abduction.html

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/holly-piirainen/id1469338483?i=1000527568621

https://www.owltail.com/people/PFiIn-holly-piirainen/appearances

https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-2001-04-15-hc-archive-holly-piirainen-missing-children-20010415-story.html

The Murder of Lynda Moore – Related to Connecticut River Valley Killer?

Lynda Moore was born on 04/20/1989. She was stay at home wife of a contractor, Stephen and mother of two children a boy and a girl. Besides taking care of the children, she was President of the Rockingham Hospital Auxillary where she worked on things like child seatbelt requirements.

On 4/15/1986, Lynda was seen outside in a lawn chair at her Tidd’s Corner home in Saxton, VT around 11:45 am and again around 2 pm. In between, she had spoken to her husband Stephen by phone around. He tried to call again around 3 pm and could not reach her. Since he was working local, he swung by shortly after to check in.

Lynda was found in a pool of blood. She had been stabbed between 25-40 times depending on the source article. There were signs of a fierce struggle with Lynda having severe defensive wounds. The killer is thought to have accessed the home through the back door.

There were no signs of robbery and there was nothing noted as missing. No murder weapon was located, time of death is suspected to be between 2pm-3pm. Lynda was 36 years old at the time of her death.

Witnesses did report a man between 20-30 years old in the driveway of the home around the time of her death. He reportedly has dark hair and glasses and was carrying a blue backpack but he was never located.

This case is unsolved to this day and while it would be a change of known M.O. for the Connecticut River Valley Killer due to the fact that Lynda was found in her home and was not hitchhiking or attacked on the road. Largely due to the stabbing and method of killing, along with location of the crime this case still is most often tied to this potential serial murderer.

Lynda’s son Christopher is noted to have set up a scholarship for nursing in honor of his mother. Last noted information for donation to this fund were Lynda Moore Scholarship c/o Christopher Moore P.O. Box 50 Bellows Falls, VT .

If anyone has information that could lead to solving this case, they should contact the Vermont State Police at 802-875-2112.

https://vsp.vermont.gov/unsolved/homicide/moore

https://www.reformer.com/local-news/a-cold-case-heats-up/article_e9014f01-42a0-5539-977c-64fa1e5b4e66.html

https://www.frontpagedetectives.com/p/connecticut-river-valley-case-murder-serial-suspect

https://www.websleuths.com/forums/threads/vt-lynda-moore-36-saxtons-river-15-april-1986.48726/

https://www.reformer.com/local-news/stabbing-victim-ids-attacker-years-later/article_a65b823a-5286-5f75-848c-199ad28eb88d.html

https://www.rutlandherald.com/news/police-seek-answers-to-a-murder-in-1986/article_ca60bc23-b451-590d-af94-0aebf77038e9.html

Connecticut River Valley Murders – Ellen Fried

Ellen Ruth Fried born on August 9th, 1957. Ellen was a nurse supervisor at Valley Regional Hospital.

On July 22nd, 1984, Ellen was 26-years-old when she was last seen, late at night, talking to her sister on a payphone outside Leo’s Market in Claremont.  She mentioned that a car kept driving by while she was on the phone with her sister for nearly an hour until just after midnight. She was so spooked by the car driving by that she reportedly had her sister wait while she made sure the car started before she ended the call. I could not understand why she would stop to call her sister from a payphone after work in a dark parking lot. As an adult, that decision in the middle of the night seems hard to understand. It was a different time as far as cell service but as a nurse supervisor I would be surprised if she did not have a home phone then, especially if she planned on talking for over an hour.

Ellen was reported missing after she failed to show up for work the next day and her car was found abandoned on Jarvis Rd, a few miles away from the store where she used the payphone. 

Ellen’s skeletal remains were found in a wooded area next to the Sugar River in Newport, New Hampshire over a year later on September 19th, 1985. Her remains were reportedly found only about a mile from where Bernice Courtemanche’s body was found and 7 miles from the market where she made the call.

The autopsy did not reveal a cause of death, due to her remains being mostly skeletal. Police indicate that the circumstance of her disappearance and the findings at the scene were consistent with Ellen having been sexually assaulted before her death and this case is considered a homicide. I could not locate what the information was that lead to this conclusion, information was likely held back as to not hinder the investigation and rule out false confessions.

It is unknown/not published where her body was laid to rest.

https://darkmatter69.blogspot.com/2019/12/where-is-michelle-nicolaou-and-who-was.html

https://www.doj.nh.gov/criminal/cold-case/victim-list/ellen-fried.htm

https://unsolvedmysteries.fandom.com/wiki/Connecticut_River_Killer

https://nhunsolved.blogspot.com/

https://www.websleuths.com/forums/threads/nh-connecticut-river-valley-killer-1980s.154206/page-6

Connecticut River Valley – Bernice Courtemanche

Another case that has been tied to the Connecticut River Valley killer was Bernice Courtemanche.

Bernice was born on December 24, 1966 to Robert Byron Courtemanche, Sr and named after her grandmother on her father’s side. I could not locate her mother’s name but she did have 2 brothers.

At the time of her disappearance she was just 17. She was a Nurse’s Aide at the Sullivan County Nursing Home in Beauregard Village

Sources indicate that she was last seen by her boyfriend’s mother at approximately 3:30 p.m. on May 30, 1984 hitchhiking in West Claremont, NH after leaving work.

At the time of her disappearance she was believed to be hitchhiking to her boyfriend’s house. She was reported missing the day after she was last seen.

Two years later, on April 19, 1986 her remains were discovered by fishermen just off Cat Hole Hill Road in Newport, NH. Autopsy found that she had been stabbed to death with knife wounds to the neck and some type of injury to her head.

Her body was laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery in Claremont, NH.

https://www.doj.nh.gov/criminal/cold-case/victim-list/bernice-courtemanche.htm

https://www.wmur.com/article/new-hampshire-unsolved-case-file-bernice-courtemanche/21089031#

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/82324105/bernice-courtemanche

A Serial Killer in the Connecticut River Valley?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_River_Valley_Killer

https://webkinzwate.blogspot.com/2015/09/connecticut-river-valley-killer.html

https://darkmatter69.blogspot.com/2019/12/where-is-michelle-nicolaou-and-who-was.html

“Betsy” Mary Elizabeth Critchley

I found myself putting off writing about this case because I was frustrated with the lack of information that I could find despite the potential tie to the Connecticut River Valley Serial Killer and the sheer number of articles that Betsy is mentioned in. So like many of the other articles, this is just going to be a retelling of the most basic facts in this case.

Mary Elizabeth Critchley, known as “Betsy” was born on December 25, 1943 and was the oldest child of James Joseph Critchley and Elizabeth McLaughlin Critchley. Betsy has 2 younger sisters.

Betsy was a 37-year old student at the University of Vermont at the time of her suspected murder. She was in Massachusetts for a dental appointment and was last seen on the evening of July 25, 1981 when she was dropped off near Exit 13 on the Mass Turnpike with the intention of hitchhiking home to Waterbury, VT where she shared an apartment with a friend. She never made it home that night.

Betsy’s body was found on 8/9/21 in a wooden area off Unity Stage Rd in Unity, NH . Due to significant decomposition, her cause of death could not be determined but foul play is suspected. Her body was fully clothed but her backpack and sandals were never located.

Betsy is buried in St Joseph’s Cemetary in Plainville, CT

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/81983103/mary-elizabeth-critchley

https://www.doj.nh.gov/criminal/cold-case/victim-list/mary-elizabeth-critchley.htm

https://www.wmur.com/article/new-hampshire-unsolved-case-file-mary-elizabeth-critchley/22677217

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_River_Valley_Killer

The Murder of Carrie Moss

14 year old Carrie Moss was last seen on July 25, 1989 when she left her family home on her bike, heading to Goffstown to go swimming. She was wearing her bathing suit under t-shirt and jeans and white boots. By all reports, there was nothing to suspect it was anything other than a normal day…except that she never came home.

Some of the research sites have sources that indicated that Carrie did run away as the police had assumed, and spent at least some time at her boyfriend’s house. Police assumed the girl was a runaway, which was compounded by the fact that her parents did not report her missing for 2 months – not until September 1989, assuming that she would return home.

Carrie was dating an 18 year old man at the time she went missing, and had recently been in trouble with the law after a marijuana arrest. Carrie had a court date set for the day after she went missing, which contributed to the idea that she had reason to run away.

Police continued with that assumption until her skeletal remains were found by a 10 year boy almost 2 years later in an wooded area, off Riverdale road. Site was about 2 miles from her parents house. Clothing identified as belonging to Carrie was found 50 yards from her remains. It is suspected that she died around the time she was last seen. Her remains were too decomposed for cause of death but foul play is suspected.

Due to the time period, this case is sometimes tied to the Connecticut River Valley serial killer.

Police have also investigated whether her case is connected to Kimberly Goss’s murder in 1989. Daniel Vandebogart was convicted of Goss’s rape and murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Anyone with information about the death of Carrie Moss should contact the New Hampshire State Police at 603-271-3575

http://carriemoss.blogspot.com/2015/03/newspaper-articles.html

https://www.websleuths.com/forums/threads/nh-carrie-moss-14-new-boston-25-july-1989.286345/

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/120988639/carrie-moss

http://oakhillresearch.blogspot.com/2019/07/carrie-moss-and-summer-of-1989.html

https://www.wmur.com/article/new-hampshire-unsolved-case-file-carrie-moss/22551101

https://www.wmur.com/article/family-of-girl-killed-29-years-ago-still-hopes-for-answers/22553331

Connecticut River Valley Serial Killer – Cathy Millican

From 1978 through at least 1987 , a suspected serial killer dubbed the “Connecticut Valley Serial Killer” operated in and around Claremont, NH. There are 7 victims – 6 dead and one survivor that have been popularly connected to this killer due to the stab patterns and similarities between the crime but the Cold Case Unit has said they are not sure if they are connected. All of the cases are unsolved. In this series of posts we are going to go through all the victims, a case at a time.

The first victim, Cathy Millican, was born May 25, 1951. She lived in Sunapee, NH and worked in North Wilmont, NH at Addison Publishing. She graduated College in 1972 and worked at the phone company when she was in school. She was married to Charles Millican.

On October 24th, 1978 She left her job for the day and was photographing birds at a local nature preserve for the New Hampshire Chapter of the Audobon Society.

Cathy was reported missing after not arriving for work the next day. Her body was found soon after not far from where she was last seen. Her body had at least 29 stab wounds in the neck and abdomen.

Reports surfaced of a gray car in area the afternoon she went missing but the information was vague.

Robbery did not appear to be a motive as her car and her belongings were undisturbed.

https://www.frontpagedetectives.com/p/connecticut-river-valley-case-murder-serial-suspect

http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm82374.html?t=Crimes

http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm82374.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_River_Valley_Killer

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/20975309/millikan/

http://darkmatter69.blogspot.com/2019/12/where-is-michelle-nicolaou-and-who-was.html

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