The Freeway Phantom: From the heyday of serial murder comes this terrifying tale, of a monster who lured and murdered little girls.
The Redhead Murders: He had a preference for redheads and a penchant for murder. He may have been a trucker. He was definitely a monster.
Stoneman: The killer had a unique method of mayhem, heavy stones, dropped from a height onto unsuspecting victims.
The Honolulu Strangler: The setting was breathtaking, the killings incredibly ugly. From the beautiful state of Hawaii, a brutal tale of serial homicide.
The Toronto Hospital Baby Murders: A monster is stalking the hallowed halls of a prestigious Toronto hospital, preying on the most innocent of victims.
The Lisbon Ripper: Someone is killing the sex workers of Lisbon, someone armed with a scalpel… and an unrivalled bloodlust.
The Toledo Clubber: He was known as ‘the Clubber’ for the weapon he carried, a carved hunk of wood wielded to deadly effect.
The Doodler: The killer enjoyed drawing sketches of potential victims. Later, he’d paint the walls with their blood.
Serial Killers Unsolved Volume 3
The Valley Killer
It started with the death of a birdwatcher. Cathy Millican was a keen ornithologist and lived in the perfect place to practice her hobby. Cathy’s favorite spot was the Chandler Brook Wetland Preserve near her home in New London, New Hampshire. She visited regularly and was there on September 24, 1978, the day that would be her last on earth. The 27-year-old failed to return home that night. Her body was found early the next day, sprawled on a path that ran through the wetlands. Cathy’s clothes were disarranged, and her belongings lay scattered around her. Her death had been bloody and brutal. Knife thrusts to the throat had caused irreparable damage. The killer had then taken his time mutilating her lower abdomen in a sick, sadistic fetish.
The murder of Cathy Millican was always going to be a difficult case to close. Once those in Cathy’s inner circle were eliminated as potential suspects, New London investigators had to face the fact that this was a stranger killing, the most difficult kind to solve. Meanwhile, about 40 miles south, in Springfield, Vermont, detectives were dealing with a perplexing homicide of their own. The remains of 13-year-old Sherry Nastasia had been recovered. Sherry had been missing for a month. The autopsy would reveal that she had been severely beaten, suffering a broken leg and fractured ribs. Death, though, was by strangulation.
Nobody made any link between the murders of Cathy Millican and Sherry Nastasia and they were right to ignore a possible connection. The M.O. was decidedly different. However, the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Theresa Fenton did resemble the Nastasia case. Theresa was snatched while riding her bike along a street in Springfield on August 29, 1981. She was found the next day, still alive but severely injured after suffering a savage beating. Despite the best efforts of doctors, she would succumb to her injuries within 24 hours.
This latest murder left the Springfield police deeply concerned. They feared that they had a serial child killer on their streets, and they were right to be worried. On April 9, 1983, he struck again, snatching 11-year-old Caty Richards. The little girl’s battered corpse would be found the next day. Only, this time, there was a witness to the abduction, leading police to a lowlife named Gary Lee Schaefer, a supposed born-again Christian with a sideline in pedicide. Schaefer would ultimately strike a deal with prosecutors and accept a term of 30 years to life in exchange for his guilty plea. However, he steadfastly denied involvement in the death of Cathy Millican, and prosecutors believed him. Cathy’s killer was still out there. He was deadlier than Gary Lee Schaefer, craftier. And he was about to resurface.
On May 30, 1984, 16-year-old Bernice Courtemanche, a nurse’s aide at the Sullivan County Nursing Home, told a co-worker that she was going to hitchhike to Newport to visit her boyfriend. Bernice never arrived and efforts to find her came up empty. For a time, the authorities thought that she might have been swept away by a flash flood, that had burst the banks of a river along New Hampshire Route 12. That theory would be disproved nearly two years later, on April 19, 1986, when skeletal remains were found near Kellyville. Bernice was identified using dental records. There were knife marks on the cervical vertebrae and there were indications of head trauma. Bernice Courtemanche had been murdered.
And the killer had not been idle in the two years between Bernice’s disappearance and the discovery of her remains. On the night of July 10, 1984, a 26-year-old nurse named Ellen Fried made the ill-advised decision to stop at an isolated payphone in Claremont. Despite the location, Ellen spent nearly an hour chatting with her sister. During the conversation, she mentioned that there was a car circling the block, the driver slowing down to look at her. Eventually, the sisters said their goodbyes and hung up. Ellen Fried failed to show up for work the next day and her car was found abandoned on Jarvis Road, a few miles away from the payphone she’d used. Her skeletal remains would be found 14 months later, near Newport, New Hampshire. Telltale notches on bone told the medical examiner everything he needed to know about the cause of death.
And then there was Eva Morse, a single mother with a 10-year-old daughter. Eva went missing from Charlestown, New Hampshire, on the morning of July 10, 1985, after telling her supervisor that she was feeling unwell and was going home to rest. Actually, Eva’s plan was to hitchhike to Claremont, to visit a former lover. Somewhere along that route, she encountered a killer. Her remains were found next to an old logging road on April 25, 1986, the head almost severed by stab wounds.
So far, we have the impression of a killer preying on lone women late at night or picking up hitchhikers. But no woman was safe from the Valley Killer, not even in her own home. On April 15, 1986, Steven Moore returned from work to find his wife Lynda lying dead on the floor in the blood-spattered kitchen. Lynda had put up a desperate fight for her life, suffering terrible injuries in the process. There were over a dozen knife wounds to her throat and abdomen and defensive wounds to her hands that had nearly severed several of her fingers. In the end, though, the killer had gained the upper hand, butchering his victim in a frenzied onslaught.
Four women were dead, the police making little headway in apprehending their killer. Then, on January 10, 1987, four became five. Barbara Agnew was a 36-year-old nurse from Norwich, Vermont, who worked at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, across the river in Hanover, New Hampshire. Barbara had spent the day of her disappearance skiing with a friend near Winhall, Vermont. Three days later, someone reported to police that they’d found bloodstained items of women’s clothing in a dumpster near White River Junction. Officers searched the receptacle and turned up Barbara Agnew’s purse. Her car was later found abandoned at a rest stop. Her brutalized remains would be discovered by hikers two months later, near Hartland, Vermont. Freezing weather conditions had preserved the corpse. It was easy to see how she’d died. Multiple knife wounds to the neck and lower abdomen were the signature of the Valley Killer.
You would be justified in asking, at this point, what the police were doing to stop the ongoing slaughter. The truth is that this was a complex case, spanning multiple jurisdictions, and crossing state borders. Undoubtedly, that complicated things. With the current open cases offering scant clues, some investigators began looking into unsolved homicides from the past, hoping to find any that might be linked to the homicidal maniac they were hunting. Two were considered noteworthy, the murder of 15-year-old Jo Anne Dunham in Claremont, New Hampshire, way back in June 1968; and the July 1981 slaying of Elizabeth Critchley. The problem is that both of these victims were strangled, which did not fit the Valley Killer’s M.O. The only point of similarity was in the location of the bodies, which were found close to dumping grounds used by the killer. The inclusion of these murders in the overall inquiry remains a contentious issue to this day.
But there are few who dispute that Jane Boroski was a victim of the Valley Killer, albeit one who lived to tell the tale. On the night of August 6, 1988, 22-year-old Jane was returning from a county fair in Keene, New Hampshire. Driving south on Route 9, she spotted a vending machine in the parking lot of a closed convenience store and made the fateful decision to stop for a soda. Jane parked her car, fed some coins to the machine, and picked up her drink. She was walking back to her vehicle when a Jeep Wagoneer pulled into the adjacent slot, leaving a narrow gap. Heavily pregnant at the time, Jane sidled past the Jeep and opened her driver’s door. That was when he grabbed her.
Jane was manhandled, pulled back towards the man’s vehicle. She knew instinctively that if he got her inside, if he drove away with her, she was dead. “Why are you doing this to me?” she protested. “Because you attacked my girlfriend,” was the man’s enigmatic reply. Jane insisted that she had done no such thing, that she did not know him or his girlfriend and had not attacked anyone. Her denials seemed to give the assailant pause.
They were now standing at the rear of her vehicle. “Are those Massachusetts plates?” The man demanded. Jane assured him that they weren’t. They were from New Hampshire. The killer then released his grip on her, and Jane scrambled away, backing up against her car. The man started walking back towards his Jeep. She could hardly believe that he was letting her go. It was then that her attacker turned back towards her, murder in his eyes.
The attack was swift, and it was brutal, the knife plunged repeatedly into the young woman’s flesh. In spite of her pain, in spite of her terror, all that Jane could think was “my baby.” Then, as quickly as it had started, it was over. The man left her lying on the tarmac, apparently believing that he’d killed her. He got into his Jeep and drove away. As the sound of the engine faded, Jane staggered to her feet. Somehow, she made it into her car and turned over the ignition. Somehow, she managed to drive to the home of a friend who took her to the hospital. There she would come to realize just how lucky she was to be alive. The blade had entered her flesh 27 times. It had nicked her jugular vein, lacerated a kidney, collapsed a lung. The tendons of her thumb and forefinger had been severed as she tried to ward off the attacker. It was a miracle that she had survived.
And that was not the only miracle that happened on that hot August night. Despite the severe injuries inflicted on her belly, Jane Boroski’s unborn child was somehow unarmed. Two months after her night of terror, Jane delivered a healthy baby girl.
The attack on Jane Boroski would mark the end of the Valley Killer’s spree. Jane was able to provide the police with a description of her attacker, allowing them to compile a composite sketch that was widely distributed. Perhaps that spooked the killer and forced him to lay low. Or perhaps it persuaded him to abandon his preferred hunting ground altogether and head for pastures new. Whatever the truth of the matter, there were no further murders that matched his unique signature. The case of the Valley Killer remains an unresolved puzzle.
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