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Burlington Police Looking for Info on 37-Year-Old Murder Mystery

Do you recognize any of the items in these pictures?

The Burlington Police Department is trying to find information on a nearly 37-year-old homicide and they are asking the public for help.

According to a "murder mystery" post on the department's web site:

"On May 22nd, 1975 a body was found here in the Town of Burlington Massachusetts. The partially decomposed body had been buried in a shallow grave in a wooded area near Muller Road. This man was the victim of a homicide."

According to police, it is believed that the man had probably been buried for about 6 months and possibly up to two years before he was found. It has been at least 36 years since this man was last seen by his friends and family. He was last seen by his killer or killers.  

Lt. Glen Mills said he first heard about the case as a child, when his father Sgt. Mills was in the department.

"I was five at the time and I remember it from my childhood," he said. "Later I was talking about it with a couple of detectives and said I'd like to see the folder. The hope is maybe there would be something in there that we could put on the internet and maybe somebody will see something and remember some information."

Mills said that to his knowledge, except perhaps for some cold case from the 1700's, this is the only unsolved homicide in Burlington. He said he would like to see it solved, but more importantly he said he would like to identify the body to give any living family members closure.

"I'm more concerned about the family," he said. "If his parents are still alive they would want to know what happened to ther son. He may also have brothers or sisters or other family that might be wondering what happened to him."

Mill explained that with modern technology, there may be a better chance of identifying the victim than ever before. He said that if someone recognizes the items or has some information on who the victim might be, police can test the DNA of possible relatives and then, if there is compelling evidence, they could exhume the body and collect a DNA sample to see if they match.

"We don't know who this man is and we don't know very much about him," police state. So what is known? Below is the release posted to the Burlington Police web site:

Description of the victim:

A white male, approximately 5’10 – 6 ft. tall, maybe late 20’s to early 30’s.  He was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, cheap canvass sneakers, an army fatigue type jacket (size: regular small), a garrison type belt with a distinctive buckle and a necklace around his neck with a unique medallion attached to it (see pictures). The man was probably thin and he appears to have had dark hair. The man also had extensive dental work with various gold fillings and professional extractions.

Cause of death:

The medical examaner's report was only about one page long; it indicated that the man died of two gunshots to the head. The M.E. drew a pair of sketches that showed two shots at different angles. High to low and low to high angles. There were no bullet fragments recovered, no x-rays taken, no autopsy photos in the file. The face was sort of caved in at the front around the nose and filled with dirt. It was originally believed that he was murdered with a blunt object, the M.E. said two gunshots.

The scene of the crime:

The black-and-white evidence photos from the grave-sight showed mostly decomposed body and clothes. The victims sneakers appear to be Converse All
Stars. There was very little crime scene control at the time. There were actually local politicians there with their kids. A lot of things may have been overlooked at the time.

The area was, and still is wooded. The site isn’t very far from the road.  It was probably within view of passing traffic. Of course at the time the area was not very busy at all.

There were, and still are some houses nearby including one house that was kind of a biker hangout at the time. The rest of the area at that time would have been pretty wooded and isolated. It's mostly industrial parks and condominiums now.

The area would have been visited at times by fishermen (there are small ponds in the area), people walking their dogs and even the occasional hunter. It's only a short distance to Route 95 (what was then only Route 128) and Route 3.

Evidence:

The best clues available to identify the victim are the distinctive belt buckle and the very unique medallion.  Dental records might confirm the man’s identity.

There was no such thing as DNA evidence back then, so nothing was saved. In order to get DNA he would have to be exhumed and it would probably need to be extracted from the bone. A DNA sample might be helpful because the FBI does maintain a database that matches the DNA of unidentified bodies with samples from the family members of missing people (who voluntarily submit samples).

Theories and investigation:

The folder was filled with a lot of pictures of other missing people, correspondence with different agencies and bad guys who lived in the area. None of the missing people matched and the local bad guys couldn’t be linked to the case.

Some leads were explored including the possible involvement of a small motorcycle gang in Poughkeepsie, NY.  It is interesting that the nearby home had ties to motorcycle gangs.  The gang from New York was linked to the medallion.

The medallion is believed to have been manufactured in Boston around 1970-1972. It is believed that it was one of about 1000-1500 made.

Another interesting thing that was going on around here in the 1970's was Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gangs power struggles. This led to various murders and bodies being dumped in the suburbs of Boston (in a very similar fashion) Now that "Cadillac" Frank Salemne, Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi and others have been talking and giving up all of the bodies, this theory has been discounted. There was a Winter Hill gang wannabe that was suspected as the victim but he was located alive somewhere down South.

How can you solve the case?

There is not much to go on. That's why we are asking the public for help. This case might be solved by word of mouth (someone who knows someone who knows someone who's brother or son went missing in the early 70's), or it might be solved by some internet genius who finds a family member online who has been searching for this dead man for many years.

Unfortunately, this is not considered a big priority right now. This case has little hope of being solved.  Maybe a little publicity or even a small lead will get it back on track.

The main priority right now is to identify the victim.  This man probably had a family and that family deserves to know what happened to him.  We would like to see the man’s parents get their son back and give him a proper burial before it’s too late for them.  If they are still alive today, they would be very old.

If you have information, they have a contact the Burlington Police Department or submit a tip electronically online. Tips can be submitted anonymously.

Darlene Bentilla January 15, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Back in the 70s, a friend of mine went missing, he has never been found. He was an only child, his name was Louis Russo. He was about 5'10", thin with dark hair. He grew up on White Street in East Boston. He was a very handsome, nice kid. Over the years I heard rumors that he got a girl pregnant, and she was the sister of a "wise guy ". After the pregnancy became known, louie just mysteriously disappeared. Mrs Russo must have passed on by now, and I don't remember Louie having a father. If I could give any further information about Louie, please call me. 978-766-4160
Darlene Bentilla January 15, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Why
J. Parker November 04, 2013 at 03:46 PM
I've kept this article here in my mail since it's publication because I've always wondered if this mystery murder would ever be solved. Did the note Darlene posted result in any conclusion?

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