August 21, 2017
NASHUA, N.H. —
Evidence in two cold-case homicides in Nashua was destroyed by police more than 30 years ago, investigators said.
The evidence involves the deaths of two women in the 1970s. Despite two investigations, officials said it's still unclear who destroyed the evidence and why.Advertisement
The body of 18-year-old Kathleen Randall was found in 1972 along Route 111-A in Nashua a month after she disappeared. Madlyn Crouse, 74, was found dead in her Main Street apartment in February 1976.
The two homicides are not related, but both remain unsolved. And it's now unclear if the cold cases will ever be closed.
Nashua Police Chief Andrew Lavoie said that more than 30 years ago, someone inside the department destroyed evidence in both cases.
"It was destroyed by our evidence technicians, and it was done in the 1980s," Lavoie said.
Many of the people involved in the cases no longer work for the department, and others have died.
Investigations into the missing evidence were conducted by Nashua police and the Attorney General's Office. It was never determined what happened to the evidence.
"Certainly, homicide evidence, especially open homicide evidence, you never destroy that, and that's certainly our mistake," Lavoie said.
"We found that some of the evidence had actually been returned to the lawyer of the estate of one of the victims," Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin said. "Other evidence was missing or believed to have been destroyed."
Lavoie said evidence procedures have changed over the decades. Every piece is now given a bar code, audited and scanned into a database, safeguards intended to prevent evidence from being destroyed again.
"You can't get rid of homicide evidence without the attorney general's approval and a court order, both," Lavoie said. "Even if we want to get rid of it, we can't. But again, none of that mitigates what happened. It doesn't matter that it was in the 1980s and not now."