Reporting Michael Rosenfield
CONCORD, NH (CBS) – New Hampshire authorities have reopened a cold case that dates back almost 30 years.
It involves two metal drums and four bodies. The victims were never identified.
The story begins in 1985 when a hunter found two bodies in a barrel in Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown.
The victims were a woman and female child.
“There’s no identification on them,” said Sgt. Joseph Ebert with the New Hampshire State Police. “The case is investigated at that time but it comes to a dead end.”
Fifteen years later, in 2000, a state trooper taking another look at the case stumbled upon two more bodies in another metal drum about 100 yards away.
“We’ve never had somebody come forward and say my family is missing an adult female and three children,” said Ebert.
It is believed the second barrel had been there the entire time but had been missed in the initial investigation.
“This is a very unusual case for New Hampshire, it’s an unusual case nationwide,” said New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin. “To have four people go missing and no one come forward.”
Investigators have now obtained $30,000 from the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children. The money is being used for enhanced DNA testing to conclusively determine if the four females are related.
Based on early DNA testing, it is believed the adult and at least two of the children are relatives, perhaps a mother and two of her daughters.
State officials are also working on new sketches of the victims.
It is believed the four females are all caucasian or Native American. It is possible the bodies had been in the state park since the late 1970′s.
Strelzin says the passage of time both hurts and helps the investigation. The case can be hampered because witnesses may have died in the meantime. But tipsters who may have been afraid to come forward years ago, may be more comfortable in reaching out to authorities today.
Tips have come in over the years, but nothing has panned out.
The case never got the attention it would have today with the 24-hour news cycle and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, texting and email, police say.
“None of that was present back in 1985,” said Strelzin.
The DNA results and updated sketches should be released in the next couple of months.
“It’s horrifying that someone has gotten away with something like this for so long,” said Strelzin. “Have they harmed someone else in the meantime and could they harm additional people in the future?”