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Cold case victim identified after more than 50 years through genetic genealogy research

<i>WMUR</i><br/>After more than 50 years
WMUR
After more than 50 years

By KC Downey

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    BEDFORD, New Hampshire (WMUR) — After more than 50 years, investigators have identified a woman found dead in Bedford.

The body of Katherine “Kathy” Ann Alston, 26, of Boston, was left in a previously wooded area at the end of Kilton Road near the Route 101 bypass on Oct. 6, 1971, officials said. Her body was found about one to three months after she died, and the manner of her death was a homicide, officials said.

Over the past two years, New Hampshire investigators said they used forensic testing and worked with genetic genealogists with the DNA Doe Project to positively identify the victim as Alston, who was never reported missing when she vanished in 1971.

“Who she worked with, where she spent her evenings, whoever she was being social with, her group of friends, it’s somebody that would have reported that she didn’t show up to work or she didn’t meet them for coffee, and yet nobody did,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agatti said. “So, that is one of the more interesting aspects of this case, and that’s one of the big mysteries we’re hoping to get help in solving.”

After genealogists found a match, investigators got in touch with the family to confirm the identification.

Alston was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1945, graduated from Dorchester High School in 1963 and later attended classes at Boston University.

In 1967, investigators said she married classmate Ralph Lawson Garrett, Jr. The couple settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later divorced. Officials said Garrett is now dead, but there is no information “to suggest the divorce was not amicable.”

In 1971, Alston’s siblings and parents moved from Massachusetts to Texas, where her father’s family was from. Siblings told investigators she was supposed to meet them at Logan Airport for their flight to Texas, but she never showed up. Her family members said they never saw Alston or spoke with her after the move to Texas.

“For her to not be there at the gate to wish them well, to say, ‘I’m staying in Boston while you folks go to Texas,’ that’s something that they always thought about,” Agatti said.

In the years since her body was discovered, including in 1993, 2006 and 2020, investigators worked with experts to create images of what her face might have looked like.

When she disappeared, she was living at 36 Beacon Street in Boston with a roommate, David Cormier, whose age is unknown.

Investigators are seeking information from anyone who knew Cormier or Alston — which includes people who lived in Dorchester, Boston and Somerville between 1963 and the fall of 1971. Students who attended Boston University from 1963 to 1967 might recall Alston from her time on campus. Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit at 603-271-2663, coldcaseunit@dos.nh.gov or via the online tip form at doj.nh.doj/criminal/cold-case.

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