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

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by macoldcase, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. rosesfromangels

    rosesfromangels Amateur speculations and opinion only

    Messages:
    11,396
    Likes Received:
    54,521
    Trophy Points:
    113
    DonMitchell,

    What an absolutely amazing outcome, with a great lesson for all.
    E heleʻoe me ka maluhia.
    Ka maluhia a me ke aloha.

    -Roses
     


  2. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,502
    Likes Received:
    22,553
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I've followed this case for awhile (several years) and remembered the following post (from 2013). I wonder how closely the suspect described below matched Sumpter?

    "''Three witnesses have described the murder suspect as a man of light brown complexion, 24-26 years old, 5'10"-5'11", and 150-160 pounds. Police experts have sketched drawings to approximate the three descriptions''

    This is what the caption reads below the blocked out, all black, photofit.

    Makes you think the news blackout stretched to Ada too. Ada, who's murder was or wasn't connected to Jane's, the former being the most likely.
    Now, if somebody can explain why a photofit that's meant to help catch a murderer is hidden from the public eye I would be extremely grateful.
    Maybe, just maybe, it was too accurate.

    A huge thank you to the person who supplied me the details of the article."

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

    dotr Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    39,281
    Likes Received:
    83,532
    Trophy Points:
    113
    DNA Links Man To 1969 Murder Of Harvard Graduate Student
    rbbm.
    “There are a group of individuals who for over 50 years have lived under some cloud of suspicion because there were some individuals that may have believed they were responsible for Jane’s murder,” Ryan said.

    That cloud is now cleared thanks to vastly improved forensic technology"

    " As for the red substance, investigators believed it was a result of a struggle."

    "A half a century later, that man, Boyd Britton thanked the DA’s office for never giving up on his sister.

    Boyd Britton released this statement:

    “A half century of mystery and speculation has clouded the brutal crime that shattered Jane’s promising young life and our family. As the surviving Britton, I wish to thank all those — friends, public officials and press — who persevered in keeping this investigation active, most especially State police Sergeant Peter Sennott. The DNA evidence match may be all we ever have as a conclusion. Learning to understand and forgive remains a challenge.”

    According to the DA’s office, this marks the oldest case ever to be solved.

    Ryan hopes this gives other victims’ families hope that investigators will never give up on a case."
     
  4. dotr

    dotr Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    39,281
    Likes Received:
    83,532
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Lengthy article.
    Nov 26 2018
    For nearly 50 years, Harvard was haunted by an unsolved murder. DNA now points to a serial rapist.
    "In her release last week, Ryan noted the investigation stalled over the years because of several “red herrings.” Each led investigators astray.

    Police had few hard pieces of evidence following the discovery of Britton’s body on Jan. 7, 1969. A neighbor reported hearing someone on the fire escape outside the victim’s apartment on the night of her murder, documents state. A second witness spotted a man running near the building in the early hours of the next day.

    Almost immediately investigators began to hunt for a link between the murder and the counterculture percolating around Harvard. “Beginning in 1968 the Common was transformed every warm Sunday afternoon into a bohemian free-for-all, with drum circles, bead-sellers, tranced-out dancers, and a ton of pot,” author Mo Lotman wrote in his book, “Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950.”

    Although some of Britton’s friends said she was a straitlaced student glued to her studies, others told reporters she had a different side.

    “She knew a lot of odd people in Cambridge — the hangers-on and acid heads who you would not call young wholesome Harvard and Radcliffe types,” an unnamed friend was quoted as saying in a New York Times article from Jan. 19, 1969. “She went to a lot of their parties and was very kind to them.”

    Another possible investigative route was presented by a ghastly coincidence.

    In May 1963, Beverly Samans had been found stabbed to death in her apartment. Like Britton, she had been a 23-year-old graduate student. She also lived in the same apartment complex where Britton was killed.

    A year later, Albert DeSalvo was arrested and confessed to being the Boston Strangler, the serial killer responsible for 13 murders in a two-year spree. Samans was one of his victims, DeSalvo claimed, according to the Boston Globe. But since Britton was murdered in the same building, the new killing fueled rumors the actual Boston Strangler — or a copycat — could still be at large.

    The most fantastic theory of the crime sprang from the crime scene. According to police documents, Britton’s body was found sprinkled with a reddish-brown powder, an act consistent with an ancient Persian burial rite. Some speculated the murder then was tied to her school work in anthropology.

    “Very few people at the time thought it was somebody random who came in and killed her,” a former colleague and neighbor told the Globe last week. “Everyone thought it was connected to the anthropology department.”

    The truth turned out to be less complicated but more brutal.

    According to the statement from the Middlesex County District Attorney, interest in the case from outside law enforcement helped nudge the investigation along. In 2017, the office received a number of requests to open Britton’s file to the public. A group of investigators sat down with the file to see what might be available for release. As part of the review, detectives decided to rerun physical evidence collected from the crime scene."
    "The Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory determined new forensic techniques could pull a Y-STR, or male-specific profile, from the DNA still in evidence. By July of this year, that profile was run through a database of known sex offenders. A match returned to Michael Sumpter."
     
  5. Betty P

    Betty P Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    15,418
    Likes Received:
    62,972
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Thanks so much for this great letter, Don. I haven't commented much but followed this thread closely over the years. I'm so glad there is finally a resolution for Jane, her family and friends. It's a difficult burden all of you have lived with these last 50 yrs. You, Becky and the others deserve a monumental amount of credit for getting this case reopened. Reopening cold cases shouldn't be this difficult, but it often is. Thanks for sharing with us and please keep writing.
     
  6. DonMitchell

    DonMitchell Active Member

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Thank you Betty P, but I didn't have anything to do with putting pressure on the DA's office to reopen. All the credit goes to Becky, Alyssa, Todd, and Michael. They did it.
     
  7. Pickwick

    Pickwick New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hello everyone!
    Thanks for the accepting me in your wonderful site. I'm really sorry for my English, it's not my native language, please forgive me for the error of grammar. I'm new here but maybe almost five years i'm looking the entries, it's a great site. About Jane Britton: My real interest was (and still) is Boston Strangler Case. When I'm searching murder of Beverly Samans, I discover Jane and time to time checked about her. I was really hopeful for the solve of her murder, because with new DNA technology they find the link inbetween Albert Desalvo with last Boston Strangler murder victim Mary Sullivan. After to learn of Britton's murderer, as an amateur searcher I can't say anything new, of course I'm glad the mystery solved. But I searched her killer Michael Sumpter; he was known as rapist and killer of at least two other women. It seems Jane Britton his first victim, at least in these 3 killings, the other comes in 1972 ( Ellen Rutchick) and 1973 (Mary McClain)Of course there is a large possibility he may killed more. Even with 3 killings we may say he's a serial-killer. Because when I search the other of his victims in Google, I found their photos and I feel awkward. They're more or less similar each other. All brunettes, long hair with really nice faces. So as a many serial killers, he looks a certain type for his vicious attackings. I want to share these articles about other two women, whom also Michael Sumpter's victims. You can see the similarity. Police sources says Britton and other victims can't know him in their daily life. That's logical for sure, but if the victims all similar to each other, maybe he could see them in the street and follow to search where they live, looking the details if have they got roommates etc. Just thinking, maybe I'm completely wrong. Anyway here are the links-Michael Sumpter's other victims.
    Family of former St. Paul woman killed in Boston in 1972 finally has some answers – Twin Cities
    DNA Links Dead Man to Second Cold-Case Murder « Suffolk County District Attorney's Office
     
  8. dotr

    dotr Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    39,281
    Likes Received:
    83,532
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Welcome to Ws Pickwick, delighted you joined here!
    Ws thread..
    MA - MA - Ellen Rutchick, 23, & Mary McLain, 24, Boston, 1972 & 1973
     
  9. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl ...

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    281
    Trophy Points:
    48
    OMG.

    I haven't been on WS in a very long time -- and log in to find yet another of the very cold cases I've followed for years SOLVED! :faint:

    There's been so many this past five years or so-- it's really incredible, to log in and find this case among that number.

    Wow, I'm a bit emotional, to be honest. Bless you, dear Jane, and rest in peace. I hope her family has some small comfort in her killer being found and named, at last.

    Just a quick shout out to Justice4Jane, who pegged the fire escape entry point very early in this thread:

    I'm sure I'll find more to say, but right now am just too relieved at this news.
     
  10. DonMitchell

    DonMitchell Active Member

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Today is the 50th anniversary of Jane's death.
     
  11. JnRyan

    JnRyan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,522
    Likes Received:
    17,638
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Almost 50 years...glad to see it solved! And 2 other cases as well.
     
  12. Pink Panther

    Pink Panther Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,715
    Likes Received:
    142
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Wow. I haven't been on in a very long time and was absolutely floored when I checked in on this thread! I'm thrilled that Jane's case has finally been solved! Like others, I was shocked that she was killed by someone that she most likely didn't know. Don - Thanks for sharing your letter. I feel your sense of shock at the randomness of her murder as I too was convinced that someone close to her had killed her. Congratulations to everyone involved in solving this murder and bringing closure to family and friends.
     
  13. Sulamith

    Sulamith Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,761
    Likes Received:
    1,248
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Wow! I have been following Jane's case here for a long time and just now read that they identified her murderer. So horribly tragic. Thank you, DonMitchell for your post! Looking forward to Becky Cooper's book.
     
    Kittybunny, wary, Betty P and 4 others like this.
  14. Justice4Jane

    Justice4Jane New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Augirl,

    I also haven't logged on in a long time, and never thought that this case would be solved. I recall early on hoping that DNA might someday solve this crime. It's a pity that the perpetrator wasn't caught after Jane's murder because two other women might still be alive today.

    A fitting tribute to Jane's memory for all of those who are inclined—donate to her memorial book fund at the Tozzer Library: https://library.harvard.edu/funds/415_565064.html
     
  15. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,958
    Likes Received:
    9,567
    Trophy Points:
    113
    • [​IMG]
      Jane Britton, 22, killed in her Cambridge, Mass. apartment, 7 January 1969.

    • [​IMG]
      This 1968 inmate identification photo provided by the Middlesex District Attorney's office shows Michael Sumpter who died of cancer in 2001. District Attorney Marian Ryan said Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, that DNA testing points to Sumpter as the suspect in the death of Harvard University graduate student Jane Britton, killed in her Cambridge, Mass., apartment in January 1969. Sumpter has also been linked two other killings of women in the Boston area in the 1970s. (Middlesex District Attorney via AP)
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A convicted rapist who died in 2001 has been identified as the killer of a 23-year-old Harvard University graduate student nearly 50 years ago, a Massachusetts prosecutor said Tuesday.

    DNA evidence points to Michael Sumpter as the man who killed Jane Britton, who was sexually assaulted and bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge apartment in January 1969, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said.

    Britton’s slaying is the third killing to which Sumpter has been linked since his death at age 54.

    Investigators have said he is also responsible for the slayings of two other women in the Boston area in the 1970s. He died of cancer shortly after being paroled from a 15- to 20-year sentence for raping a woman in her Boston apartment in 1975, Ryan’s office said...

    LINK:
    DNA links dead convict to 49-year-old murder case
     
  16. DonMitchell

    DonMitchell Active Member

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Pardon me for saying so, Richard, but you're well over a year late on this.
     
  17. DonMitchell

    DonMitchell Active Member

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    33
    The cover for Becky Cooper's book about Jane is now available.

    The publication date will be November 10, 2020. Grand Central Publishing.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. RocksnStuff

    RocksnStuff New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    I know this may be a moot point, but is anyone else bothered by the idea of closing a case by posthumously accusing a suspect?

    I've lurked on this thread for years, because I feel very close to Jane for a number of reasons, but I've been reading Erin Murphy's "Inside the Cell" and what I'm gathering is that a DNA "match" by itself would not be enough to convict someone of a stranger murder, especially from a sample that's as old as this one would have been. It's also just really convenient to find a CODIS hit on an inmate who can't defend himself in court right when public pressure is mounting on Cambridge PD to release and re-evaluate the case. Does anyone actually know what kind of sample they tested, what software they used for analysis (and what on earth Y-str is)?

    I want justice for Jane, truly, but this doesn't feel like that. It's a shame they only re-ran the sample a couple of years ago... I think the only satisfying end to this story would be a conviction, and it seems we've lost any chance of that.
     
  19. CastlesBurning

    CastlesBurning Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,089
    Likes Received:
    5,223
    Trophy Points:
    113
  20. DonMitchell

    DonMitchell Active Member

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    33

Share This Page



  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice