*Important Update – On June 4, 2021 police officially named person of interest in this case as Francis P. Sumner, Sr. Mr. Sumner was a convicted rapist that was released from prison 2 years before her death. The level 2 Sex Offender died in 2016 at his home at 71 years old. He operated Auto Shops in the local area to where Molly lived and was a graduate of South Worcester High. The Bish family reportedly want evidence that links Mr. Sumner to this crime released.
Following are some links on what I could find on Mr Sumner:
Molly Bish was a blond-haired, blue-eyed All American 16-year old, who was excited about her summer job as a lifeguard at Comins Pond in rural Warren, MA.
On June 26, 2000 when her mother was dropping her off to work around 8:45 am, a man caught her eye in the way creepy people sometimes do. She noted the car he was driving, and thought he seemed a little strange but didn’t seem to think any more about it…until the next day when Molly disappeared.
June 27th started out much the same way as every day since Molly started work, Molly’s mother, Magi, brought her to work and dropped her off around 9:45 am. This was just Molly’s 8th day of work. When families started to arrive, Molly was not at her post but her lunch and things were still there. She was never seen again alive. Police suspect that Molly was taken only minutes after being dropped off.
June 9, 2003…nearly 3 years later, Molly’s partial remains and bathing suit were found by a hunter in the woods of West Ware Rd in nearby Palmer, MA a few miles from the pond where she worked, in an area known as “Whiskey Hill”. Only 26 bones of the 206 have ever been found.
Several Suspects have been investigated but there seems to be the majority of focus on two suspects.
The first, suspect is a man named Rodney Stanger. Rodney lived in Southbridge, MA but moved to Florida shortly after Molly went missing. In 2008, he killed his girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison, by stabbing her to death. Rodney matches pretty closely to the depiction of the man that Magi and others saw hanging around the pond. At the time, he also drove a white car similar to the description given by Molly’s mother. Chrystal’s sister called police after finding evidence clearing out Chrystal’s trailer that may have shown Stanger’s involvement. All of these items have been handed over to police.
Here is a comparison of the pictures:
The second suspect is a man named Gerald Battisstoni. Battisstoni is a convicted child rapist from nearby Ware, MA. He was convicted of raping the child of a woman he dated for years over 100 times. He attempted suicide in prison by slitting his own throat with a broken light bulb after being linked to the Bish Case and later died in prison of natural causes . He also resembled the composite, though in a different sort of way. He was familiar with both the Comins Pond and Whiskey Hill areas.
Neither man, or any suspect, has ever been charged in this case. A white car was recovered in 2018 after a tip that it was buried locally. The police used ground penetrating radar and recovered the vehicle but the owner was somehow not identified.
The Bish family still hopes that DNA testing or other breakthroughs will solve this case now over 21 years later, supporting investigative initiatives such as law enforcement work with familial DNA. I pray the find the answers, the peace and the justice they deserve.
If you or anyone you know have any information that could solve this case, and bring this family peace, please call the Massachusetts State Police Tip Line at (508) 453-7575.
This is a recent case having just occurred so there are no court records, just various articles indicating the cautionary tale. The case started out, it seems, with a random facebook message from a friend that Kimberly hadn’t seen in some time and ended with the murder of her and her husband.
Kimberly denied the request from the acquaintance, 49-year Timothy McQuesten due to to COVID-19 concerns. Kimberly’s husband, Mark, was suffering from a long illness which required a liver transplant, and as a result they were cautious about any exposure risks, but unfortunately this caution didn’t save them.
On January 14th, McQuesten allegedly broke into their home at 125 Main Street in Manville, RI and beat Kimberly and Mark to death with a hammer and crowbar.
The attack was brutal and Kimberly was dead by the time authorities arrived, but Mark was transferred to the hospital alive after a neighbor heard noises from the attack and called 9-1-1 when the couple did not answer the phone. He died shortly after his arrival at the hospital.
The killer might not have been caught with such a tentative connection to the Dupres, however, the killer initiated himself into investigation by making calls looking for support for himself, relative to the Dupre’s murder.
The calls detailed unreleased information about the crime, immediately drawing suspicion on McQuesten, which led to searches and, ultimately, to his arrest. Upon searching his home, the police located bloody clothes and shoes along with a bloody crowbar and hammer. His brother indicated that McQuesten had also confessed to him that he committed the crime.
McQuesten was arrested on two counts of first degree murder and had been ordered to have a psychological evaluation, but that was not to be. He was found 3 days later, dead in his cell at the ACI Facility. His autopsy indicated he committed suicide by shoving his face mask down his throat. It would have been interesting to at least get some perspective as to what drove him to the crime, since the timing seemed so incredibly random but the attack was so very personal and brutal. McQuesten did live close by, but what leads to that type of attack after all those years? We may never know.
The Karina Holmer brutal murder was a shocking case and therefore, it has received a lot of coverage. Even with the vast interest, this case remains open and unsolved to this day. There are 3 notable suspects in this case that people have spoken about mostly in whispers for years, but nothing concrete enough to bring an arrest was ever uncovered.
Karina was a 1994 high school graduate from a small town in Sweden called, Alaryd. She went to school to learn the restuarant business but after she reportedly won a local lottery for about $1500, decided to use a illegal nanny broker service to take a job with a family in Massachusetts arriving in March of 1996. This was the family of two artists, Frank Rapp and Susan Nichter and at the time their kids were a son in the first grade and a daughter, 3 year old. Official paperwork was never completed so technically, Karina did not have the proper work Visa.
Karina seems to do most of her work with the children during the week at the Dover home and on the weekend she often stayed at Rapp’s loft at 327 A Street in Boston and went to visit the areas clubs with her fake ID in hand. She had no problem getting in because she looked much older than her 20 years.
The mystery of this case is that Karina was cutting her trip short. She told friends that something happened and she would explain when she came home. Her sister is unaware of what the problem could have been, but her plan was to return in August.
The night that she disappeared was Friday June 21, 1996. She went to the loft as usual and met her friends. The group went out to Club Zanzibar in Boston to celebrate the Summer Solstice, and Karina was last seen around 3 am on June 22nd, after her friends apparently all left with some men they had met. Her body was found on Sunday morning, June 23rd, in a dumpster at 1091 Boyleston Street – well the top half of her body was found. The lower half was never located. A homeless man was looking for cans when he found her when her arm popped out of the trash bag she was in. Autopsy indicated Karina was strangled with a ligature. She was afterwards, cleanly sawed in half right below her ribs and above her pelvis between two vertebrae. The clean cut drew suspicion that someone with medical training or a butcher may have involvement. There were also marks on her wrists indicating at some point her hands were tied. Although a lot was made of the possibility, testing revealed she was not pregnant. Her make-up had been washed off which is another mystery from this case. Did she make it back to the loft and get ready for bed before she was killed? Did the killer wash off her make-up and, if so, why?
The only evidence of note was a partial fingerprint was recovered from the two large trash bags that contained her body. The finger print was never identified.
A mysterious fire also occurred in the dumpster outside the Rapp property the Monday after she was found. There was nothing of note found in the search of the dumpster noted anywhere that I could locate.
There are many suspects that have been questioned in this case but nothing has ever definitively tied anyone to her murder.
There are many sources available if you are interested in finding out more. I really enjoyed listening to Crime Junkie’s podcast on the case so if you find an interest, please check that out. A link is below, but I believe the podcast can be found anywhere you can listen to podcasts.
I was in 6th grade for this case and I still remember it well. It scared me because I had been driven on these roads my whole life and had always thought of them as safe, and not the stomping ground of a serial killer. In 1988 there were believed to be 11 victims of the New Bedford Serial Killer, at least that we know of. The killer was never caught, there is also the possibility that he moved on to another area and continued his killing spree.
For this post, I want to talk about the victims and what is known on this case.
Victim – Debra Medeiros, 30 years old, of Fall River lived with her mother. Debra was known to police and family to have had long standing substance abuse issues but no record for prostitution. Last seen by her boyfriend in New Bedford after a fight, and reported missing on 5/27/88. She was the first of the bodies found and she was identified in December of 1988. Her body was found 7/3/88 by a woman who went to relieve herself just in the woods on the side of the road on 140 in Freetown. Her remains were severely decomposed with her body positioned on her back with her feet pointed towards the highway. Her cause of death is strangulation, she had a bra around her neck, and she was found only partially clad. Her boyfriend was not considered a suspect. After her death, her mother counseled drug and alcohol addicts in honor of her daughter’s loss.
Victim – Nancy Lee Paiva, 36 years old, of New Bedford. Nancy had gone to secretarial school, but dropped out. She was married at 19, divorced and had 2 teenage daughters. Nancy was known as a very supportive mother and grandmother. At the time of her death, she had a steady boyfriend, who was a drug dealer known to police. She was last seen walking home from a bar called “Whisper’s Pub” on July 7, 1988 after a reported fight with her boyfriend in the South End in the early hours of morning. Nancy reportedly had substance abuse issues but was not known to be into prostitution. Her relationship with her boyfriend had been rocky with domestic violence issues. Her nude body was discovered beside Interstate 195 Westbound in Dartmouth July 30, 1988 by two men who were riding motorcycles. Her body was found in the same position as Medeiro’s – On her back with her feet pointing towards the highway. Nancy’s cause of death is also believed to be strangulation. Her boyfriend is not a suspect in her death.
Victim – Debra Greenlaw Demello a 35-year-old mother of 3 ; a 15 year old daughter, Chandra and 2 boys who were 8 and 3 at the time of her death. She had a brother, Wayne who said that Debra had struggled with substance abuse issues since her teenage years. She had walked away from a prison work-release program to which she had been sentenced due to a prostitution charge on June 18 and was last seen in New Bedford, July 11, 1988. Her body was found off the eastbound Reed Road ramp of Interstate 195 by a state highway crew on November 8, 1988. Debra’s nude body was in area with trees, clothing strewn in the branches. She was found with some belongings of another victim, Nancy Paiva.
Victim – Dawn Mendes. 25, last seen in New Bedford, September 4, 1988 walking from her apartment to a family christening party. Mendes was one of 10 children and was the mother of a 5 year old boy. She had a history of prostitution and drug use. Her body was found on November 29, 1988 on the westbound Reed Road ramp off Interstate 195 by a search dog, mostly skeletal remains but her hand was able to yield a fingerprint which lead to her being identified. Her mother raised her son after her death.
Victim – Rochelle Dopierla, 28, of Falmouth missing since late April, 1988. Her body was found December 10, 1988 in a gravel pit along Reed Road beneath a tree grove, about two miles from Interstate 195, by people riding ATVs. She was partially clothed and beaten to death. She had dated, and stayed at the home for suspect, Kenneth Ponte who was arrested for her murder but the charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence. This was the only time charges were brought in this case. Many contend he is one of the main suspects in this case, but I don’t believe he is the strongest suspect. That honor belongs to Anthony Degrazia. Both of the men are now deceased. Rochelle had testified against another (third) man who had raped her, but he is not suspected in this case. She was last seen with Nancy Paiva’s boyfriend, an ex-convict. He was cleared in both deaths and is not a suspect.
Victim – Robin L. Rhodes, also referred to as “Bobbie Lyn” was found March 28, 1989 along Route 140 southbound in Freetown by a search dog. She was believed to have gone missing sometime in March or April of 1988. Rhodes had dated suspect Kenneth Ponte. She had a young child and was addicted to heroin and cocaine. While she was never involved in prostitution, she knew many of the other victims and was friends with Mary Rose Santos.
Victim – Mary Rose Santos – a 26-year- of New Bedford. She was a mother of two, who was dropped off on July 16,1988 by her husband, with whom she had recently reconciled, near the downtown bus station and last seen dancing at “The Old Quarterdeck Lounge” five hours later . Friends said her husband had no idea she was working the streets to help pay bills, and she was known to have a substance abuse issue . Mary Rose Santos’ nude body was found March 31, 1989 along Route 88 in Westport by two boys, a beer bottle was found with her. Suspect Kenneth Ponte had represented Mary Santos in a civil case and helped her husband make flyers after her disappearance.
Victim – Sandra Botelho, 24, a mother of two young sons who were 4 and 6 years old. Botelho was known to have a significant substance abuse issue and engaged in prostitution. Botelho reportedly left her apartment on August 11, 1988 at 11pm and never returned. She was the final body found, located in the woods along Interstate 195 in Marion on April 24, 1989. Her body was nude and reportedly was folded into a fetal position.
Victim – Deborah Lynn McConnell, 25, of Newport, RI. Also spelled Deborah Lynn McConnell, mother to one daughter. Deborah was last seen May 1988 by her dad after she buried her mother at the cemetery. She is believed to have been the 3rd victim. Her body was found December 1,1988 off Route 140 northbound in Freetown, through a cadaver dog search. She was found nude with a bra around her neck. The family knew something was truly wrong when she did not see or call her 10 year old daughter on her birthday.
Suspected Victim – Never Found – Christina Monteiro, 1. Last Seen May, 1988. Christina had child and had a known substance abuse history. Her description was African-American female. Brown hair, brown eyes with scars on both wrists and a scar near her left eye. She is between 5’3 and 5’5 and 110 lbs. She has initials and words tattooed on her arms but I could not find what the words were. She was wearing a shirt, blue jeans and sneakers when she was last seen.
Suspected Victim – Never Found – Marilyn Cardoza-Roberts, 34. Last Seen April of 1988. She had a loving family who believed she moved to the West Coast to live with a relative. She was last seen in June 1988. They reported her missing in Dec 1988. She was neighbors with Monteiro, who is also still missing, which makes this even stranger to me – what are the odds? But then, many of the victims knew each other and ran in the same circles, and even the suspects.
I have always thought this case was fairly similar to the Long Island serial killer case, although there are certainly some differences. All of the victims in that case had a similar profile with drug and prostitution activity. The activity is alleged to have started in the early 90’s, just after the killings in New Bedford stopped. New Bedford Police have always operated on the idea that the person was local, and prostitutes and substance abusers can be out of touch with family, and transient which makes them ideal targets for serial killers. Netflix has a movie about the Long Island case called, “The Lost Girls” that readers might find interesting. There is also a documentary that was discussed about the New Bedford Case, but I could not find it at this time. I will update the post if I do locate it.
Hopefully, the DNA work that is being done will bring answers to the families that to this day look for them. There were 15 children who deserve answers about what happened to their mothers. Anyone with information can contact the New Bedford Police Department at (508) 991-6300, the Unsolved Homicide Tip Line at 1-866-SOLVE-07.
I remember this case well. I think it was the smiling photo that was released when Jeffrey Curley first went missing and the overwhelming feeling that it was not going to end well… but I am not sure anyone was prepared to the depths of depravity that this case dove into.
Jeffrey Curley was born June 9, 1987, a third son to Robert, a fireman in Cambridge and Barbara Curley. The lived in East Cambridge on the outskirts of Boston, MA. Jeffrey liked to play outdoor sports in the neighborhood; such as basketball, baseball, hockey. He enjoyed ice skating and riding his bike.
October 1st, 1997, Jeffrey was last seen by his mother going to his grandmother’s house to wash the dog. As planned, He made it to his Nana’s house. After she saw him, he said he needed “to do something and would be back in ten minutes”. That was the last time Jeffrey was seen alive.
Jeffrey was reportedly lured into the car by 2 men he knew from the neighborhood, who had promised him a new bike…It was just after 3 pm. Charles Jaynes reported that Jeffrey stated, “You guys are my best friends” shortly after this ride began. You see, the reality was Jaynes and Sicari had been grooming Jeffrey for months taking him to McDonalds and the Museum of Science, and other places. To Jeffrey, these men were not strangers but people he felt like he knew and was comfortable with. He likely did not realize he was in danger until those last few minutes.
The family reported the boy missing when he did not return home that evening and police searches began the next day. Like many other cases, by the time the searches began, it was already much too late.
Very soon after Jeffrey was in the car, the suspects, Salvatore Sicari and Charles Jayne brutally murdered Jeffrey by smothering him by Jaynes sitting on him with his disgusting, extensive body weight after stuffing a gasoline soaked rag into Jeffrey’s mouth. Jeffrey fought hard but was no match for Jayne’s size. Charles Jayne then went to work at the Honda Village in Newton, with the victim’s body in the car, on the floor near the backseat where Sicari secured it and put in the trunk . After work, Jaynes and Sicari drove to Jayne’s Manchester, NH apartment. Jeffrey’s dead body was then raped by the men. When they were through, they stuffed Jeffrey into a plastic tote with lime and concrete and tossed him off a bridge into the Great Works River in South Berwick, Maine where his body was found on October 7, 1997.
During the search for Jeffrey, Salvatore Sicari, was interviewed 4 times after saying he saw Jeffrey the day he went missing, which culminating in his admission of being involve. He admitted to the kidnapping and subsequent murder with an accomplice, Charles Jayne. Sicari claimed to be a witness to the crime with Jayne committing the actual murder.
Both men were convicted in this disgusting crime and given life sentences. Jayne finally admitted his role in the crime just this year, but in some screwed up twist Jayne has the possibility of parole on his conviction of second degree murder.
For the sake of the family, and other family’s of small children, I am hoping that neither man ever sees the outside of prison walls again. I hope every moment they spent in prison, they suffer for what they have done. After a story like this, it feels like they could never suffer enough.
Here are a few more articles if you are interested in this case:
13 year old Melissa Benoit was a resident of Kingston,MA. She lived in a home with her mother and an 11 year old sister. The family had recently been through tragedy when the year before, Melissa’s father had passed away unexpectedly at just 41 years old leaving the family devastated.
Melissa was last seen on a path near her home about 2:30 pm on Saturday, September 15, 1990 where she went to visit her father’s grave. Melissa frequented this path, visiting her father often, a feat made easy by the proximity of the cemetery to her home.
The FBI asked neighbors to search properties and undergo polygraph testing related to the case. By September 19th, suspicion had fallen on a neighbor who had lived in the area for 30 years. After failing the polygraph, this man, Henry L. Meinholz admitted to prior lewd acts including sexual assault at knifepoint and public masterbation.
The disappearance was immediately taken seriously and the search for Melissa was extensive, involving 1000 law enforcement officers and volunteers. After Meinholz’s wife consented, a search was executed on his home and Melissa’s body was recovered during that search.
Her body, clad only in a tshirt, was found in the basement of the Meinholz home 11 days after she went missing. She was wrapped in plastic sheet which was fashioned as a cord around her neck . There was a cord around her chest, and a cord around her left wrist, and evidence there had been cords around other limbs while she was alive. She was naked from the waist down and had multiple blunt force contusions on her body. She had contusions on her bilateral inner thighs consistent with sexual assault. Cause of death was asphyxia and blunt fore trauma to the head.
Meinholz, 52, a bookkeeper at a lumber yard and church deacon ,was charged and convicted with kidnapping and killing the young girl . He claimed the voices in his head taunted him that he was not a man if he did not have sex with her. Meinholz was not charged with sexual assault because it could not be proven due to decomposition, however he did testify to sexually assaulting her but stated the sexual contact with the 13 year old was consentual, which only shows what a true abomination this man was. Of course, no one believed any of his sick lies any way, I just hate that her mother and sister had to sit there and listen to that after all they had been through.
Meinholz was given life in prison without parole, and he started his time in prison in Walpole but after many threats and one an assault, he was moved to the prison in Concord. I didn’t need to add that part but it made me feel good to think he suffered some after what he did.
Meinholz died in prison in 2000. The judge in the murder trial discussed that it was unfortunate the days where defendants like Meinholz could be hanged in front of the courthouse had passed.
Melissa is buried next to her father in Evergreen Cemetery in Kingston.
Lakeville is small town, MA. There is barely even a center to the town. Blink, and you will surely miss it. Violent crime is almost non-existent in this town but tragedy still struck 51 Hill Street on a quiet Saturday. In this case, there seem to be more questions than answers…mainly, why?
The family home was locked with the deadbolts from the inside when the authorities arrived to the home in order to do a wellness check. The last confirmed sighting of the family was Friday, when the family returned from vacation. Once the authorities entered the home what they discovered was a terrible tragedy.
Paul Riley was a 52 year old Lt firefighter who worked out of Brockton, Ma. He was married to his second wife, Alicia (Frawley) Riley, who hailed from Brockton. He was said to have a good relationship with his first wife, with whom he also had a son.
Paul was known to be a good guy to family, friends and coworkers. There was no evidence of stress or domestic strife that any friends or family were aware of. There were no records that the police were ever called to the home for any issues other than false alarms from the home security system.
Alicia (Frawley) Riley, was just 37 years old. Alicia was formerly of Brockton, and was a volunteer at the Lakeville Animal Shelter. Alicia came from a big family, with 4 brothers and three sisters. Alicia and Paul had lived in the home at 51 Hill Street for 8 years, and were in the process of building a large, new home on Calthrop Drive in Bridgewater, MA, in a small subdivision of about 10 homes. The couple were their own contractors on the project. This project was reportedly running over budget – but the couple did not show the normal signs of financial hardship. Could this have really been the cause?
The Riley family had just returned from a vacation in Disney World on Friday, which was the last day they were seen alive. Relatives did not hear from them, and called the police Monday night to check up on the family. The police arrived at approximately 6 pm and made the discovery of the tragedy after breaking into the house through a window. The house was secured from inside with the deadbolt. Alicia was found fully clothed, and deceased in the bathtub, and investigators stated it was unclear if she was shot there, or moved there afterwards but there was never any indication they found a secondary site in the house where she would have been shot.
The children, Matthew, 6, & Erin, just 2 years old were found in bed. The children were wearing their pajamas. Autopsies for all 4 individuals in the home showed that each of the victims was shot just once, and that they had likely been dead for 48 hours, putting their deaths at sometime Saturday. Police indicated there were no signs of a struggle in the home. Authorities believe Paul killed his wife and two small children before killing himself.
Paul’s body was found in his son’s bedroom with a .380 semiautomatic pistol underneath his body. Authorities said he purchased the gun in 1989, but that his firearms license expired in 1992. All indications were that his gun shot wound was self-inflicted.
There were no answers I could find on this case. No definitive reason, only a theory that the house they were building being over budget was just too much stress for him. Is that enough to drive a family man to become a family annihilator? Did something happen between the couple on vacation that caused a rift ? What drives a man to shoot his small children? In this case, they didn’t seem to find anything in the investigation that made sense, and I don’t think we will ever truly know.
When I was 9 years old I moved to Middleborough, large in area but still very small town in feel, especially in those days. Think cranberry bogs and small downtown area. I was entering into the fourth grade, kids I met and played with at recess would walk the edge of the woods that bordered around Burkland School and talk. Inevitably, there were two stories that came up. These were actual cases that actually occurred in the small downtown area that I called home at the time. One was the murder of a teenage girl, much more recent and very close to this school – I will detail that case in another post…and this case, a cautionary tale, in a very Adam Walsh way, a reminder to kids why you really shouldn’t talk to strangers that the time period was a little fuzzy on.
As most town lore goes, the stories were mostly short of details and then the details that you did hear frequently changed or the kids that were telling the details did not understand them. I think that’s a good thing especially for this case in particular, because it’s worse than any “monster under the bed” story. At that time, in the mid-eighties, it happened so long ago even at that time that no one was sure when it happened.
So, here is the real story…according to my research. I have included the sources below.
Ellen I. Gamache born July 5th, 1960 to Patricia and James Gamache. She, at the start of this story, was a small, five year old girl with short red hair. She lived with her family on Wood Street in Middleborough, Massachusetts. July 29th, 1965, Ellen went to the town playground with her two older brothers who were ages 8 and 12, and stayed in the kiddie corner area of the playground while the boys walked down the hill to the Town Pool. This playground is in close proximity to the town police and fire stations and was frequented by many parents with their small children in an area that is considered very safe.
Around 4 pm, Ellen could not be found by her brothers. By 6 pm, they had searched their neighborhood and their mother called the police who launched a large scale search launched for Ellen. Over 200 police with bloodhounds and volunteers searched, but she could not be located. The publicity of the search lead to tips, and were some sightings of Ellen, from a girl who saw Ellen in the man’s car and her and her mother reported it to police, and from other children saw her at the playground that day. There are some reports that Smith took her for an ice cream cone.
The search was extensive, residents and police combed the area looking for her. There was an expanded search at the Town Dump because several people had seen the suspect there not long after Ellen went missing. This search did not locate her but it seemed to bring in just enough tips to make Paul N. Smith a serious suspect.
Sadly, her body was found on August 8, 1965. She was located by a woman picking blueberries who had followed her nose to identify an putrid smell in the area. The place where she was found was a wooded area, off Montgomery Street in Lakeville, Massachusetts. According to sources, Ellen was found face down, naked from the waist down with her pants draped over her and her underwear missing. Her body was in an advanced state of decomposition and she was identified through her clothing. Smith stated he put his hand over her mouth until she was dead, both at trial and to another inmate. Autopsy found that Ellen had been stabbed 4 times, beaten and had clearly been sexually assaulted.
Paint chips found in the area near the body were later tied to the suspect, Paul N. Smith. Smith was a 33 year old painter and Handyman who was visiting his brother in town. Smith, a sex offender from the state of New Hampshire, was spotted at the playground while Ellen was there playing. He acted suspiciously after Ellen disappeared and a tip was called in by one of his own relatives. Additionally, his car was in background of pictures taken at the playground that day. He made attempts to sell his car just after the murder, and then traveled out of state to visit extended family. The car was located and impounded. Debris in his car also was similar to debris found on the victim. It is said in sources that he initially attempted to coerce another girl, to go with him for ice cream the day before. I wonder if her refusal saved her life.
The FBI came looking for Mr. Smith, prompting him to flee, leaving his things behind which included blood stained clothes and a knife. A stain from human blood was found on the defendant’s trousers in the suitcase. Due to the time period, DNA was not used in this case.
Police caught up with Paul Smith, and he was arrested in Vermont by August 9, 1965. He was indicted in September on 4 charges . He did not deny committing the crime with his defense being what amounts to insanity with his diagnosed schizophrenia causing him to have the “irresistible” urges to molest and kill a young girl. These urges had been present for some time but he said that he so far had been able to resist the urges. He was a convicted sex offender in the State of Vermont for prior acts that I was unable to uncover during the research.
He faced two trials in this case. The initial conviction was reversed on appeal. One objections was that the venue should have been changed due to a photograph that showed Smith reenacting Ellen’s death during the investigation tainting the jury pool. He was convicted of first degree murder during the second trial. and received a sentence of life in prison.
In 2018, a prison guard was accused of assaulting Smith who was 86 years old at the time, and received lacerations to his face. It’s hard to feel bad for Smith no matter what he has suffered in prison.
Ellen is buried in St Mary’s Cemetery in Middleborough.
Celina Cass was born January 2, 2000. She was tall for her age at 5’5 and weighed just around 92 lbs. Some of her classmates noted she was almost as tall as the teachers which hit my heart a little because I have a little sister that was the same way at her age.
At 11 years old, Celina had just finished the fourth grade. She was looking forward to entering the fifth grade at West Stewartstown Elementary School. Her favorite colors were pink and purple. She enjoyed dancing, swimming and arts and crafts. She played basketball and enjoyed spending time with her friends.
Celina’s crooked tooth smile made her face unforgettable to the people who followed the case. According to an article quoting Marcia Laro, her paternal grandmother, this malformation was due to an accident while fooling around with friends a few years before, and she was that very week scheduled to have braces that would have corrected her teeth.
The small New Hampshire town of West Stewartstown had population of between 380-900 inhabitants, depending on the source you trust, but in any case was so small that Celina’s class had just 10 fourth graders.
Celina lived an apartment house that had 4 apartments, that was one of the main streets through town, next to a restaurant and an old building that was once a school. The house was a large house described in many articles as, ”Ramshackle”, and in need of repair. This apartment was where she was last reported as seen by multiple sources.
Celina lived with her mother, Louisa Cass; Her stepfather, Wendell Noyes; His mother Eunice (who seemed to mainly just stay overnight) , An adult son of Louisa’s previous boyfriend, 22 year old Kevin Mullaney and her 13 year old sister Kayla. Louisa had been married to Wendell since October 2010, so only 9 months when Celina went missing but the couple had been dating for a couple of years. Pictures of this wedding are still visible as of the writing of this post if you find Wendell Noyes on Facebook. The family looks happy with no inclination of what’s to come.
Sources from the school reported that Celina had reported being uncomfortable or afraid around Wendell shortly after the marriage, but I saw nothing in these articles about any follow-up being done after these reports. Celina’s older sister reported that Wendell watched porn in the open at the home, and often referred to Celina as “Little Big Hoota”.
Celina’s father, Adam Laro, had been having severe health challenges including congestive health failure and was reportedly in a medically induced coma just before the incident and signed himself out against medical advice when he found out Celina was missing. He had not heard that Celina was having any problems in the home but I feel like it’s very possible she would not want to worry a sick parent or thought it would cause strife between Laro and her mother. It made me sad when he wondered out loud in interviews in the following months and years if there was anything he could have done or questions he could have asked that would have lead to revelations or somehow change what happened.
I saw several sources question why Kevin Mullaney, a 22 year old with felony convictions would have been living with the family. Mullaney publicly stated in articles that Louisa was like a mother to him, especially after his own mother passed away. Being that Louisa used to date Mullaney’s father, it is unclear how long that she had been in his life so it makes sense to me. In a world where relationships are short lived, I feel like there are a lot of people who connect with former partners of their parents. That said, I do see the concern with his less than stellar record then, and his future convictions since. One of the future convictions was fraud from trying to forge a check belonging to Louisa so I do wonder how she feels about him now.
The evening of July 25, 2011 was not a normal evening, even before Celina went missing. Her sister Kayla went to sleep at a friend’s house. This friend was 17 year old, Kaylin , who was said to be Kevin Mullaney’s girlfriend at the time. There was a car accident around 8:00 pm where a local resident hit a deer and briefly afterwards, Celina and her mother came outside to see the commotion. Neighbors, Jason Atwood and his girlfriend, Cassandra Hunt saw Celina at that time dressed in a pink shirt, denim shorts and flip flops. They reportedly returned home between 8:30 and 9:00 pm because it had started raining. The last reported sighting of Celina was at 9 pm that same night of July 25th, 2011 when her mother went to bed. Noyes reports several different stories of when he last saw her so I am going with Louisa’s version, where she hugged her daughter good night and said she loved her. Celina had been using the computer. This was verified by computer forensics that indicated that Celina was logged in IMVU, a social media site, from 09:05 pm until 10:28 pm. Kevin reportedly returned home around midnight but saw nothing out of the ordinary, made himself food and went to bed and left early the next morning for work.
Louisa testified that she got up around 2 am to use the bathroom. She stated that after she returned to bed, Wendell got up to use the bathroom but she does not remember him coming back to bed as she went back to sleep. Remember this, it’s important later. Louisa got up between 7:00-7:30 and left for work around 8 am.
Shortly after 8 am, Kayla returned home with Kaylin, and Wendell told her that Celina was missing. Kayla left and drove around the area with Kaylin but returned home after not locating Celina. Kayla noted that she realized that Wendell had not yet notified her mother, so she dialed the shop and handed Wendell the phone to make certain that her mother was aware. Louisa later reports that call came into her at around 9:00 am and she came directly home.
According to a friend of Wendell’s, Robert Wheeler, Wendell reported to him that Celina was missing at 7:40 am. This is where the inconsistencies start. This would have indicated that he was aware she was missing prior to Celina’s mother leaving for work and he never told her that Celina was missing at that time. A 9-1-1 call was placed by a neighbor, Deborah Whalen, when she heard Celina was missing and no one had yet notified the authorities, this call was placed at approximately 10:50 am, and first responders arrived at around quarter past 11. Another one of Wendell’s friends indicated an entire conversation that Wendell had with Kayla about getting Celina while they were speaking on the phone, and then Celina not being there when later it was discovered Kayla was not even home yet. She was still with Kaylin.
This missing person report triggered a massive search, including authorities who seemed to take the case seriously immediately. Investigators immediately noted that Celina’s bed was stripped to the egg crate covering and Kayla’s bed was made. There was insulation that was noted in photographs of the bedroom that was later matched through door in cellar near the bulkhead. This is believed to be how the body was taken out of the home.
Both Kayla and Louisa both noted that Wendell was doing laundry, which they both mentioned was strange as he never would have done that by routine. This would most certainly not be something someone would do after finding a child missing. One of Celina’s sheet were in this load of laundry.
Wendell Noyes changed his story several times about when he last saw Celina, how many beers he drank the night before and what time he got up during the night and the morning. During an interview with police, Noyes walked out of an interview when police tried to discuss the inconsistencies in his story. He was followed by the police who monitored him as he walked to the bridge and yelled as he gestured towards the dam where Celina was later found. In another instance he drove investigators in a circle around where Celina was later found when they asked him to show them areas where he thought they should search.
Three days after the disappearance, Wendell reported in an interview that the family was “grieving” as if he was already aware that she was gone. During a vigil, He reported folded her pictures down and while they were moved to the hotel for the investigation of the home, Wendell allegedly punch Celina’s picture 3 times in front of a witness. He denies these events. He also pretended to throw a grenade at the media. Louisa says in interviews that she grew suspicious of Noye’s involvement, and separated from him.
Celina’s body was found on August 1, 2011. She was submerged in 15 ft of water near the Canaan Hydrostation Dam and the railroad trestle about a half a mile from Celina’s apartment. According to the arrest affidavit, Celina’s body was wrapped in a Blue Comforter and a Plaid Blanket. There are pictures if you visit the link for the affidavit . There was twine wrapped around the exterior of the Blue comforter that was approximately 30 ft in length and wrapped around overlapping itself, and tied in knots. A rolled up Winnie the Pooh sheet was tucked between her legs along with a sandbag that weighed approximately 52 lbs. The sandbag was believed to be heavier but some contents had been spilled out. This sand was thought to have been intended to weigh the body down. Her cause of death was not immediately released but was later thought to be drowning. She was wearing only a t-shirt and a bra when she was found. Later interviews with police lead to the information that Louisa kept twine the same or similar to this twine for crafts and it was stored in Wendell’s toolbox. The sand bag between Celina’s legs when her body was found matched the other 3 sandbags from Wendell’s truck. Eunice had given these to Wendell and stated there had been 4. These bags weighed 70 lbs, they bag with Celina has lost some of it’s contents. Celina’s cause of death was drowning and her vaginal area had abrasions that indicated that could have indicated sexual penetration.
Wendell was hospitalized when her body was found after bizarre behavior including laying face down in the driveway. On August 4, 2011 Wendell Noyes checked himself into a mental health clinic. This was not the first time that he has sought help for mental health issues. In 2003, He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and committed to a state psychiatric facility after breaking into a former girlfriend’s home and threatening to harm her. In that case, he was found incompetent to stand trial.
In 2013, the Cass’s apartment home went up in flames. No cause was released in the fire and the family had no longer lived there at the time of the fire.
In 2015, an inmate sharing a space near Mr Noyes indicated that Mr Noyes confessed to him that he had in fact, killed Celina because Noyes, and another unnamed man were having sex with her and thought that they might have gotten her pregnant. The inmate was confirmed to be in the space near Mr Noyes there was no way to corroborate the information, or the source, due to the fact these two were the only inmates in the immediate area.
Interesting side note, though possibly not directly related to this case, in 2019 Gordon Noyes – brother to Wendell Noyes, of Canaan, VT was convicted of repeated sexual assault of a child in his care resulting in felony sexual assault charges. He already had a longer criminal history and this conviction garnered him a 25 year sentence. After the case, two more victims came forward.
Two witnesses reported strange events the morning Celina went missing. At 2:07 am, a man going to work reported a vehicle backed up on the bridge near where Celina’s body was found. It was dark and he did not know the make of the vehicle. This is an exact time due to GPS installed in the vehicle. Additionally, a friend of Wendell’s reported exchanging a wave with him at 5:30 am when he saw him out.
June 20, 2016 Wendell Noyes was arrested and charged with the second degree murder of Celina.
As his defense, Mr Noyes asserted that Kevin Mullaney was the perpetrator. He indicated the evidence – a pair of pajama pants and a pair of Celina’s underwear as evidence along with Mr Mullaney’s less than stellar record. Several sources have pointed out that Mr Mullaney allowed the police to search his truck without a warrant and would have been very unlikely to do so if he was aware that these items of Celina’s would be found there. I did see several sources note that a pair of muddy, sandy & semen stained boxers of Mullaney’s were found in the basement area shared by the girls. I could find no official sources indicating this information and therefore am not able to say much about that except that it would have been easy for Wendell to move laundry Kevin left in the bathroom or his room and the police cleared Mullaney in this case after interviewing him extensively including polygraph testing. Important to note, Mullaney was no angel and is, at this time, an inmate in New Hampshire prison for several charges including the attempting to steal from Louisa.
Wendell Noyes is thought by most to have been solely responsible for Celina’s death but sadly due to the court finding in February 2017 that Mr Noyes not only incompetent to stand trial but that Mr. Noyes may never have the capacity to be competent to stand trial, the charges were dropped. This is extremely rare.
Murder charges could be reentered if Mr. Noyes is ever declared competent. He is admitted to New Hampshire Hospital and is committed for a minimum of 5 years. Hopefully, after 2 violent acts, that’s where he will remain.