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February 18, 2013

Cold case squad tries to identify 4 victims

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The two steel drums, found 15 years apart, held two bodies each. Three of them girls under 10. All were partially dismembered.

Decades after they were dumped in the New Hampshire woods, investigators have no idea who they are.

Cold-case investigators almost always grapple with not knowing the name of the killer they’re seeking. But for the bodies of a woman and three girls found on the site of a now-defunct trailer park, investigators don’t know the victims’ names, either.

“The starting point in almost any homicide investigation is who the victim is,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin, who heads New Hampshire’s cold case squad. “The most fundamental information is denied us.”

The first two bodies — a woman and a girl believed to be between 8 and 10 — were found by a hunter on the property of an Allenstown trailer park. The second set of bodies — a girl between ages 1 and 3 and another between 4 and 8 — was found in the same area 15 years later by an investigator who revisited the scene.

Of the 126 victims listed as missing or murdered on the cold case squad’s website only six — including these four — are unidentified.

Strelzin said New Hampshire investigators are partnering with scientists and investigators at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to take a fresh look at the case.

They are using digital technology to do more accurate facial reconstructions and using forensic tests to determine any biological relationships between the four victims. Investigators have said the woman and the two younger girls are biologically related.

“We’re concerned we’re not portraying that accurately,” Strelzin said. “We’re trying to update it with the best technology we have.”

Every cold case is a mystery, but Strelzin said the number of unidentified victims — including the three children — makes this one unique.

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