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

Celina Cass

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.

Affadavit : https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bw1u4tuUje88Z1F5M3ZlMFdVcTA/view

Celina Cass: Stepfather Ruled Not Competent for Murder Trial

https://www.wmur.com/article/mother-of-girl-found-dead-in-2011-speaks-about-ex-husband-s-arrest/5212293

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/death-new-hampshire-girl-celina-cass-remains-mystery-autopsy-inconclusive-article-1.944520

https://www.concordmonitor.com/found-incompetent-to-stand-trial-wendell-noyes-still-headed-to-state-prison-8377376

https://www.concordmonitor.com/found-incompetent-to-stand-trial-wendell-noyes-still-headed-to-state-prison-8377376

https://www.wcax.com/content/news/Man-convicted-of-sexual-assault-of-a-child-513281071.html

https://www.bailbondshq.com/new_hampshire/nhdoc-inmate-MULLANEY/79455

https://apnews.com/article/6966445761f045179c19f7da134fcb58

http://archive.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2011/08/04/authorities_search_celina_casss_home_as_father_and_grandmother_wait_for_answers/