BILLERICA, Mass. (AP) — Authorities have discovered human remains in the same general area of a river where a car was found that had been driven by a 17-year-old Massachusetts girl who disappeared nearly 40 years ago, authorities said Wednesday.
The “significant portions” of a car found in the Concord River in Billerica have been positively identified — through a match of the vehicle identification number — as the 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger driven by Judith Chartier on June 5, 1982, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement Tuesday.
During a news conference Wednesday, Ryan said human remains, as well as items of clothing and a purse containing Chartier’s laminated work ID, were also found in the murky water about 50 to 75 yards from shore in 8 to 10 feet of water.
Whether those remains are Chartier’s is yet to be determined, she said.
It is too early to say whether foul play was involved in Chartier’s disappearance, she said.
Chartier’s surviving siblings have been kept abreast of developments, the district attorney said. Her parents have died.
“As you can imagine, after all of these years, first to hear just a little bit of news yesterday that we’ve been able to locate the car, and then to hear this morning that we’ve actually found these human remains, is both heartening in that they now have a sense of what happened to their sister, but also distressing,” she said.
She called the discoveries “bittersweet.”
Chartier, who lived in Chelmsford, was last seen around 2 a.m. the day of her disappearance when she left a party in Billerica, authorities said.
Investigators will now try to determine who else was at the party and talk to them, Ryan said.
The case has haunted the town of Chelmsford, police Chief James Spinney said Wednesday.
“This case has affected the Chelmsford community and the Chelmsford Police Department for the better part of four decades,” he said. “We’ve never closed the case.”
The car was located by the state police dive team, as well as civilian divers with expertise in sonar systems, officials said.