Cold case investigators exhume wrong body at Hamden cemetery

Cold case investigators exhumed the wrong body at a cemetery in Connecticut. (Source: WFSB)
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) - Police along the shoreline are looking to use DNA to crack a nearly 50-year-old cold case.

They first need to recover the victim’s body after digging up the wrong one Wednesday at a Hamden cemetery.

Police say the issue is this case goes back decades and the cemetery records they have aren’t that great.

There are many graves that are unmarked.

Inside the old cemetery, the grass is high and some of the tombstones date back centuries.

It’s one you can’t see that investigators are trying to uncover.

“We’re going off of basically a hand written, drawing of the cemetery and of the plots and what we’re finding is that there are a large amount of unmarked graves and there are large amount of people who weren’t necessarily documented on our records, buried in our area,” said East Haven Police Chief Joseph Murgo.

East Haven police said back in August of 1975, a woman’s body was found in a ditch off Frontage Road, in the location where the Carmax is today.

She had been strangled.

“Throughout the years several generations of detectives investigated the case, but we were never able to identify her, we were never able to lock in on a definite suspect,” said Murgo.

Investigators discovered their Jane Doe was buried in Hamden’s State Street Cemetery, and with advances in DNA testing and genealogy, they’re hoping to crack the case.

They first need to find her, and it’s proving to be difficult.

“So the State Street Cemetery has been abandoned for many years, there’s no association and even when there was an association, they came under fire at the time for keep really inaccurate records, so that’s sort of the challenge we’re facing now,” Murgo said.

Police say they know she’s in this certain area, they just need to find the exact gravesite.

Going off that handwritten map, police thought they had her location, but the casket exhumed Wednesday contained the remains of a man, and not their unidentified murder victim.

But investigators say they’re not about to give up.

“47 years is a long time to wonder what happened to your loved one and there is somebody out there that wants some sense of closure and it’s our hope that we’re able to bring that sense of closure to our victim’s family,” Murgo said.

Police said they need a search warrant signed by a judge every time they want to dig here, so they will go back, re-evaluate, and the hope is to be back out here in the next week or two.