SOLVED MA - Jane Britton, 22, Harvard student, Cambridge, 7 Jan 1969


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Nov 1, 2012
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Hello, I'm new to the site and looking for some more information about a murder that occurred in Cambridge, MA in 1969. Jane Britton, a graduate student at Harvard, was killed in her apartment, and while I've been able to find a few archived newspaper articles about the case, they end very abruptly with a black-out imposed by the local police chief. I've written a couple of emails to the Cambridge police department that have gone unanswered, and would just like to know if this case was ever solved - and if so, what the outcome was. I've included links to some of the articles below, but would appreciate anything else that anyone can come up with - I'd be particularly interested in finding out who was interviewed by the police. Likewise, if anyone has a connection with local law enforcement there, feel free to send me a private message. Thanks in advance!,2257058
This case is extremely strange in the fact that almost nothing was written about it, the police issued virtually nothing about it and "googling" brings up so little information! Harvard (the school) was obviously under political pressure to do something about the residence that Jane was living in but the police seems equally culpable of covering up something given the astounding lack of information about this case. Also, where on earth was this woman's family? Seemingly educated, they just disappeared into oblivion? How is that possible?
"Mystic funeral"
"Mysterious aspects were added to
the incident when certaim "rites" which
had been performed on the gir as she
was dying were identified by Professor
Stephen W'ilimas, chairman of the
Harvard Anthropology departmnent, as
being part of an ancient Persian burial
ritual. These "rites" included sprinklng
the girl's body with red oehre, a
pigment used in pottery for many
thousands of years by most primitive
societies. The "funeral ritual" also
included piling the body with a coat, a
rug, and other similar articles in an
attempt to simulate a burial. Police
theorize that the elaborate ceremony
was probably done by a person with
extensive knowledge of ancient
civilizations, possibly an Anthropology
student at Harvard. As a result, about
100 fellow students of Miss Brittoan
have been or will be questioned by the

This may be why police decided to put a ban on information regarding the case?
October 7, 1965

"It was announced last week that Harvard University Police will take over duties of the watchmen on October 17. In a letter recently sent to J. Boyd Britton, administrative vice president of Radcliffe, union officials discolsed their intention to bring the matter to arbitration.

According to Britton, the central issue involved is "whether Radcliffe has the right to contract for police protection with the University police.""

March 14, 1969

"Radcliffe will increase its night watchman force and reactivate a police alarm system as part of an effort to tighten security in the dormitories, J. Boyd Britton, administrative vice president of Radcliffe said yesterday."

June 12, 1969

"Residents of the Harvard-owned building where Jane Britton was killed filed a criminal suit charging that the University ignored laws requiring locks on apartment house doors. The tenants claimed that Harvard had installed a few locks only after the still-unsolved murder of Miss Britton."
Pink Panther, thanks very much for the additional links! I agree - it's a very strange case, which is why it bugs me that I can't seem to get any information from anyone at the Harvard or Cambridge police departments. I wonder how many of those potentially hundred or so students they ended up interviewing.
This article gives an address near to where Jane was killed:

"Clerk of the Court Joseph D. Conway said that building inspectors had examined the apartment complex at 122 Mt. Auburn St. which was named in the complaint, and found that the building had the required locks.

Harvard installed the locks in the building several days after Jane S. Britton '67 was murdered there on Jan. 6."

This article give's Jane's address:

"In 1968, the body of Jane S. Britton '67 was found in her apartment at 6 University Road--a building owned by Harvard and managed by R.M. Bradley & Co."
It's very difficult to find any information about this case. Regarding the family, J Boyd seems to either have married twice or had children with two women. Jane S Britton had a brother (named after his father) as well as two half-siblings (Charles and Susan). First wife, Frances, died in 1994, second wife Ruth died in 1978. Jane's mother was Ruth.
macoldcase - Do you have any additional information that might be useful for further research? Given that you've tried to communicate with both Harvard and the local police, perhaps you could share a bit of what they haven't? If you don't care to post and prefer to PM, I would be happy to try and look into any aspect of this case that you feel might have been overlooked?

ETA - From the bit of research I've done, I believe that she was killed by someone she knew. I think that there was lots of evidence to her crime but either it was not collected, it was contaminated, or it was not understood at the time. Also, I think that the police was in over their heads and mistakenly did not share what they knew.

I remember reading that Humphries was the one to discover her, and that he and Jane had dated - I wouldn't think that it would be easy to recover after something like that, especially with the pressures of grad school at a top program like Harvard.

The presence of markings on her face is really strange. I'm also feeling like the police must have had some good leads that just never panned out - how many people could have had that kind of knowledge?

Also, I found this story a while back and forgot to post it - a possible related case:
This article makes mention of the police "blackout" on the case. It also mentions that Jane was an amateur artist (as a possible reason for read ochre to be found on her body, walls and ceiling!). Finally, it states that Humphries and the Mitchells took lie detector tests.


This article makes the same suggestion about the paint:,1592068
I have no reason to think so, but I've never understood the police's connection between Jane B and Ada B's murders apart from location/vicinity. Then again, there is virtually NO information released on either cases which both seemingly remain unsolved. Ada was Ada Caroline Bradbury. She was born and died in Cambridge. She had been a secretary/research secretary at Harvard. Here is her brother's obituary:
Here is Jane's father's obituary:

"J. Boyd Britton, 93, former vice president of Radcliffe College and the Boston-based Cabot Corp., died Oct. 15 in Vero Beach, Fla. The former Needham resident had Alzheimer's disease...He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega, the American Chemical Society, the Harvard Club, the Chemists' Club, and the Dedham Country Polo Clubs....Mr. Britton also took an active role in town politics. He was a member of Needham's Finance Committee and was a chairman of trustees at Glover Memorial Hospital. Mr. Britton donated a small stained- glass window to Christ Church in Needham "to cover a vacant (spot) that people were always peering through at the choir," Boyd Britton said. "I think he designed it himself." In 1969, Mr. Britton's daughter Jane, a Harvard graduate student majoring in anthropology, was bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge apartment the night before she was to take an important exam. The case remains unsolved."

And here is Boyd's first wife's (find a grave) obituary:

"Mrs. Britton was a graduate of the University of Illinois. She was employed by the state Department of Public Aid until her retirement in 1972. She was also a member of Kumler United Methodist Church, the Illinois State Employees Association, Retired State Employees Association and the Sangamon County Historical Society, and was a former member of the American Association of University Women. She devoted many hours of volunteer sewing to several community organizations, including Cerebral Palsy, Land of Lincoln and Neighborhood Ministries. Surviving are a son, Charles Britton of Cottonwood, Ariz.; a daughter, Susan Britton of Springfield; and two grandchildren."

I have not been able to find any death records for Jane's mother Ruth as yet.

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