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.
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. onMay 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.
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
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
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.
52-year old Louise Chaput was a self employed pyschiatrist and mother of two daughters that lived in Sherbrook, Quebec. She was self-employed and worked primarily in marriage counseling and with prisoners at local prison. Reportedly work had been hard, and she was looking forward to a trip with friends to explore the Middle East but this was 2001, and after 9/11 those plans were abruptly canceled.
Louise still sought a break. A capable outsdoors woman and hiker, she called around to see if anyone could join her for a trip to the mountains but when no one could join her, she thought nothing of going alone. She dropped her 18 years Louise reserved a room at Joe Dodge Lodge and started out on her drive.
Louise crossed the border in Vermont at 11:45 AM, and stopped briefly at the Pik Quik at 12:50 pm in Colebrook. She arrived at her destination around 3 pm – just before check-in time at her hotel.
Louise stopped by the information Center at the Appalachian Mountain Club Visitor’s center where she sought information about a short hike that would take her back to the hotel before dark. During the conversation, she was directed to a trail called the lost pond trail. The trail is a short, easy hike and she seemed to be in Agreement with that route when she left. This was the last known sighting of Louise alive.
Louise never made it back to check into her hotel. Her boyfriend reported her missing when she did not arrive back home on Monday. Her silver ford focus was found across from the Direttisma , and it contained items that she would have typically brought with her such as her hiking shoes, chocolate and water bottle. What was missing was her Blue Kanuk Backpack with a down sleeping bag, her car keys with a silver S pendant. Police have asked that hikers keep an eye out on the trail incase something is ever uncovered.
Louise’s body was found fully clothed, burned and stabbed . Autopsy reported that she has multiple stab and clean slice wounds. Her body was found just a quarter mile from the visitor’s center on the far more complicated Glen Boulder Trail that tracks to Mount Isolation but she didn’t make it far. No one knows why she changed her mind but it appeared to be a fatal decision. It appears she died just as she was starting her trek.
A few things about this case were immediately clear – robbery did not appear to be a motive as the items that were missing were low value. The car keys were missing but the car was still there, her credit and bank cards were not stolen or used and she was not sexually assaulted. Due to her work with marriage counseling and at the prison, police even ruled out that she was stalked or followed but there was no indication that occurred. Police are working with the theory that the attack was random but a local who knew the area. The case still remains unsolved, and I have found all of the information that I could. While there are many articles on this case there is not a lot of information. After 20 years the case remains a unsolved. If you have any information that might be helpful in solving this case, you can reach the NH Cold Case Unit 603-223-3856.
*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.
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.