Steve Huff's Crime Blog

July 21, 2005

(2 of 3)

The unknown slayer’s first victim was likely Cathy Millican, 26, her body found on September 25, 1978, in a wetlands preserve near New London, New Hampshire. She had been stabbed to death. (...T)he Valley Killer struck again on May 30, 1984. Nurse’s aid Bernice Courtemanche, 17 when she disappeared, was not found until almost two years after her disappearance. A subsequent autopsy revealed evidence that she too had been stabbed to death.

Nurse Ellen Fried went missing on July 10, 1984, but her remains were not discovered until over a year later in rural New Hampshire. Her autopsy also showed signs that she had died by knife. Eva Morse was last seen hitchhiking in Charlestown, New Hampshire, after leaving her place of work on July 10, 1985. Her corpse was not located until logger found it on April 25, 1986, with obvious evidence of knife wounds. Next was Lynda Moore, stabbed to death in her home outside of Saxtons River, Vermont, on May 15, 1986. Courtemanche, Fried, and Morse had all disappeared from Claremont , New Hampshire.

Another nurse was murdered by the elusive killer in January of 1987. Barbera Agnew, 36, disappeared on her way home from a ski trip. Her car was soon found abandoned at a Vermont rest stop but her body was not discovered unti March 28. She too was the victim of a vicious stabbing with wounds in the neck and lower abdomen area, which investigators were learning was the Valley Killer’s signature…

Again, the map I linked at the beginning of this entry is no work of art—I didn’t even use photoshop—but it does give you a decent visual representation of the locations of the Valley Killer’s dump sites. In general he seemed to keep his trolling confined to the Claremont area, tending to keep close to the border between the states. It would appear that Interstates 91 and 89 could have been his main routes of travel. He killed no further east than Cathy Millican in 1978, as far south along I-91 as Lynda Moore in Saxtons River, Vermont, in 1986.

I did not add Brianna Maitland’s disappearance to the map, but I did place a marker for Maura’s disappearance. She vanished from an empty country road in the dark, just a few miles from I-91 and the Connecticut River, which run like strange twins of asphalt and water northward until they part ways near St. Johnsbury.

When I first read of this unsolved series of murders and then wondered if there could be any connection between the killer trolling the I-91/Connecticut River corridor nearly 20 years ago and the girls missing last year I naturally shot as many holes as I could in the idea at first. I’ve tried to touch on a number of reasons it might be a silly conclusion to reach.

But there is also the nagging fact that Maura Murray was a nursing student.

From the North American Missing Persons Network page about Maura:

A nursing student from Amherst, MA, Maura was last seen at approximately 7:00 pm in the vicinity of Route 112 in Haverhill, NH…

Read the quote from the geocities site again and note:

Nurse’s aid Bernice Courtemanche

Nurse Ellen Fried went missing on July 10, 1984…

Another nurse… Barbera Agnew, 36…

It is an odd coincidence. Of the missing or dead women in question, the probable victims of the Valley Killer from the late ‘70s and ‘80s and the two girls who vanished in 2004, 4 were either associated with the nursing profession—student, nurse’s aid—or actually a nurse. If we include Brianna Maitland and Maura Murray as possibly having run afoul of the Hollow Man traveling that Interstate route, we have have 9 potential victims of the Valley Killer—six women apparently abducted and murdered, one—Jane Boroski—attacked but survived, two vanished.

Note too that I wrote “interstate route.” You can see at the verbal_plainfield site that it is the fact that the murders which began with the death of Cathy Millican in 1978 occurred mostly in the Connecticut River Valley that eventually even gave the unknown killer his nickname. Michael Newton, who has entries in both his Encyclopedia of Serial Killers and The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes about this case, begins his own entries in the books thusly:

The scenic Connecticut River Valley forms a natural border between the states of New Hampshire aqnd Vermont… ~ Michael Newton’s Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, page 228.