On Tuesday, December 23, 2014, investigators in Concord, New Hampshire announced that they had solved the 1987 cold case homicide of Judith Whitney, aged 43. However, no arrest in this old case will be possible, since the murderer died in 2011.
In this post, I’ll talk about this cold case, and how it was eventually solved.
Judith Whitney was last seen alive on July 2, 1987. Four months after her disappearance, a hunter found her body near the town of Winchester, New Hampshire, buried in a shallow grave. At the time, police named Edward Mayrand as a suspect in the case, because he was in possession of Whitney’s’ gun and car. They did not actually have enough evidence to arrest him. The case went cold soon after.
A cold case unit was actually working on a different case, one involving the 1983 murder of Kathleen Daneault, 25, in Gardner, Massachusetts when they used DNA evidence to link Mayrand to Daneault’s death. The DNA and other evidence led them to believe that he was also the man responsible for the death of Whitney.
Mayrand died of lung cancer in 2011 while serving out a prison term, which means there was no way to prosecute him for the murder. However, the Attorney General’s office went on to say that they still consider the case solved, even though there can be no arrest and no prosecution. They are confident they have discovered the identity of the culprit and can close the case.
How did Mayrand know Whitney? Was it a random crime? Investigators found that the two actually knew one another through meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous, which they both attended the month before Whitney went missing. She had told several of her friends that she was planning to go on a camping trip with Mayrand. The two of them stayed together at the Valley Green Motel on July 1 and 2. These were the main reasons that the police had initially identified Mayrand as a prime suspect in the case.
The motel staff had stated they saw the two together, but that they only saw Mayrand on July 3, and he was driving Whitney’s car. He told the maid that Whitney went and visited some relatives who did not like him, so he stayed behind. Neither Whitney nor Mayrand ever checked out of the hotel. Mayrand just left. They had left a number of items in the motel, which the staff then gave to the police.
One of the important items that the police were looking for (which they did not find) was Whitney’s gun. She supposedly always carried her gun with her or in her car. The police later found the car in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. In August, they arrested Mayrand, who was hiding in a closet in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He was on parole for a violent sexual assault that occurred in Massachusetts in 1975, and leaving the state had been a direct violation of that parole. The police found Whitney’s handgun among his possessions. At the time, he said that they had an argument and that she left the bar they were at. He admitted to taking her car, but said he abandoned it because he was afraid she would report it stolen. He claimed to take the gun so he could kill himself if caught violating parole.
Officials said that at the time, there was not enough evidence to tie him to the murders of Whitney and Daneault, the woman he murdered in 1983. They did not pursue him further.
In 1994, he murdered Patricia Paquette, 46, in Providence, Rhode Island. Police connected him to the crime, and he went to prison for second degree murder. He would not speak with the police about Whitney’s death while he was in prison. It was not until year later, when they finally obtained DNA evidence, that they were able to conclusively connect him to the other murders. By that time, he was already dead.
Investigators around the country work hard to close these types of cold cases and bring some measure of closure to families who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, even years later.
With unsolved crime cases, the private investigators at Martin Investigative Services assist clients by helping them fill in the details surrounding a case. In the past, our investigators have been brought in on many high-profile murder, kidnapping, rape, stalker and felony crime investigations.