Update: Did a Serial Killer Murder Portsmouth Women? Oct 3, 2016 0:03:39 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Oct 3, 2016 0:03:39 GMT -5
Were Portsmouth Women Victims of a Serial Killer?
September 28 is the 35th anniversary of the murder of Laura Kempton (above right) of Portsmouth, N.H., and police Detective Sgt. John Peracchi is optimistic her killer will be caught. “The advances in modern forensic science have given investigators new possibilities with evidence that was perceived to be degraded, no longer viable,” he said. “We are revisiting all those people that were persons of interest during the initial stages of the investigation.”
On Monday, Sept. 28, 1981, around 9:30 a.m., the body of Kempton, 23, was found dead in her apartment at 20 Chapel Street. Autopsy revealed she died of massive head trauma, consistent with being struck by a blunt object, causing contusions and lacerations of the brain. The young woman was a student at the Portsmouth Beauty School and employed at Marco Polo, Inc., and Karen’s Ice Cream Parlor. According to police, she was last seen by a friend leaving the Ranger Club, a bar on Congress Street, in the early hours that morning. “Generations of detectives have carried the case,” Peracchi added. “It began with the director of detectives, William Mortimer, and it has never gone cold.” Peracchi is one of those detectives and he worked as the lead investigator on the cold case from 2004 through 2010. He and the late Paul Lindsay, a retired FBI agent and novelist from Rye, N.H., interviewed “hundreds of people,” he said.
Thirty-five years after the murder, investigators are revisiting the case. “The modern techniques,” coupled with evidence collected decades ago, provides hope the case will be closed, Peracchi explained. “It’s amazing what a great job they did with evidence collection,” he said of the officers who processed the murder scene in 1981. “Their evidence collection techniques have really helped us.”
A reward of up to $20,000 remains in place for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Kempton’s killer. The same reward is active for information that would lead to a conviction in the unsolved murder of Tammy Little (above left), whose mother found her dead in her apartment at 315 Maplewood Avenue on October 19, 1982. The 20-year-old woman also was a student at the Portsmouth Beauty School and, like Kempton, died as a result of massive head injuries. The women lived approximately a mile from each other and both occupied ground-floor apartments. Neither had a steady boyfriend and both frequented the Ranger Club.
In an interview with the Portsmouth Herald five years ago, now-retired detective Mike Leclaire said the murders of Kempton and Little have too many similarities to ignore and the women were likely killed by the same person. The two had photographs taken of themselves with the intentions of creating a portfolio they intended to send to modeling agencies, he added. Additionally, both were assaulted during the autumn months in the early morning hours on a weekend and both were beaten beyond recognition. If it were a serial killer, Leclair reasoned, there may have been “a kill” before Kempton and/or after Little.
Anyone with information concerning these murders is encouraged to leave anonymous tips with Seacoast Crime Stoppers at (603) 431-1199, by text to CRIMES (274637) and including TIPSCS in the message, or at seacoastcrimestoppers.org
Sources: Elizabeth Dinan, SeacoastOnline, September 25, 2016; The Portsmouth Herald; and The Bangor Daily News.