CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A convicted rapist and murderer who died in prison in Rhode Island in 2011 also killed women in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, luring them to remote spots and strangling them with their own clothing, New Hampshire's attorney general said Tuesday.
In the case of Judith Whitney, prosecutors said Edward Mayrand was already giving away her jewelry to women at a bar on the day or day after he killed her in July 1987 in New Hampshire.
Whitney, from Amherst, Massachusetts, was 43 when she was last seen alive with Mayrand in Keene. A hunter found her body four months later in Winchester, New Hampshire, a drawstring tied in a granny knot around her neck.
The New Hampshire Cold Case Unit announced Tuesday that it had used DNA, similarities in the way the women were killed, witness statements and inconsistencies in Mayrand's stories to link him to Whitney's death and the 1983 murder of 25-year-old Kathleen Daneault in Gardner, Massachusetts.
Mayrand, who was convicted of killing another woman in 1994, had long been suspected in both murders, but investigators could not find enough evidence to bring charges.
In a statement released by the Worcester County District Attorney's office, Daneault's family praised the officials who solved her murder.
"Our one solace is that Edward Mayrand passed away in prison alone without loved ones around him to comfort him, just as he left Kathy to die alone," the family said. "While this does bring us some sort of closure, it does not erase the 31 years that the son whom she loved more than life itself, has been without his mother."
In December 1975, Mayrand met a woman in a Warwick, Massachusetts bar, according to the cold case report. He drove her to a remote area, punched her, choked her with her own scarf then drove her to a cemetery where he raped her. He said he couldn't let her go because she would go to police. She escaped, running naked through the woods to a nearby house for help.
Mayrand was convicted of rape and was in prison until 1983.
Prosecutors say on Nov. 17, 1983, he left a restaurant with Daneault in Gardner, Massachusetts, and strangled her with a piece of her own blouse, torn off and tied in a simple granny knot. Investigators in September 2014 found Mayrand's DNA on the cloth, contradicting his story that they had no physical contact.
Whitney fell prey to Mayrand after the two checked into the Valley Green Motel on July 1, 1987, according to prosecutors. Witnesses reported seeing the pair together for two days but then only saw Mayrand, 40 at the time, driving Whitney's brown Ford Mustang.
In August 1987, police searched an apartment in Peterborough and found Mayrand hiding in a closet. The apartment's resident, Deardre Gladu, told police she met Mayrand on July 3, 1987, in the lounge of the same motel where Mayrand and Whitney were staying. It's likely Whitney was already dead.
Gladu, her friend Sylvia Taylor and Mayrand spent the evening at the bar before Mayrand invited them back to his room. They declined. Mayrand gave Gladu a necklace and Taylor a watch that were later identified as Whitney's, prosecutors said.
Benjamin Agati, the assistant New Hampshire attorney general who led the probe, praised witnesses like Gladu for recalling minute details from nearly 30 years ago.
"You might use the term fine-toothed comb" to describe the investigation, Agati said. "You go back and talk to witnesses, especially here in the murder of Judith Whitney, and most of their memories are just as vivid today as they were then."
Agati said no other active cold cases are believed to be linked to Mayrand.
In 1994, Mayrand killed Patricia Paquette in Providence, Rhode Island. Paquette, 46, was reported missing on Dec. 8 and her body found two weeks later in a vacant house near where Mayrand was staying. She had been strangled and dismembered.
Mayrand was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 35 to 60 years in prison. He died in prison of lung cancer in 2011.