Murder at Harvard

Naturally, we are interested in all things anthropological, and that includes crime.

Jane Britton, a 23 year-old Harvard graduate student in anthropology, was murdered on January 6th, 1969. Certain rites which had been performed on the girl as she was dying were identified as part of an ancient Persian burial ritual. They included sprinkling her body with red ochre, and piling a coat, a rug and other similar articles on her body in an attempt to simulate a burial. Police theorized that the elaborate ceremony was probably performed by a person with extensive knowledge of ancient civilizations – particularly Persia. It was described as an ancient symbolic method of purifying the body and ridding it of evil spirits.

Police suspected that this crime was committed by someone in the department of anthropology at Harvard.

Her death was caused by five blows on the back of the head with a massive object. Police suspected that the object may have been an archaeological fragment that she kept in her room, but as far as I know, this was not confirmed.

There was no evidence of a struggle or robbery.

She had participated in excavations at Tepe Yahya (a site in Iran) in 1968:


The case has never been solved.

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79 Responses to Murder at Harvard

  1. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Perhaps you would also be interested in the brutal murder of two young women from Brittany although I doubt that the perp(s) knew anything about Persian culture.

  2. Sandgroper says:

    I believe my comment resides in the spam filter.

    In short, I think the ‘ancient ritual’ stuff about the murder was fanciful imaginings suggested by this chap and/or his accolytes: which is why the cops subsequently imposed a ‘news blackout’ – to stem all the fanciful stuff being funnelled to the media. A month later another woman was murdered basically the same way – bashed in the head by a sharp rock while in bed asleep – no mystic Neolithic human-sacrifice ritual about it, just a straight out nut-bag murder.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I wasn’t there, so I’m not about to argue away what the cops said. Not that you couldn’t be right.

      I suspect that ancient DNA (45 year-old) might tell us something.

      • Sandgroper says:

        You’re right, I shouldn’t speculate. But I have yet to meet the police officer who is an expert in ancient Persian burial rites. No disrespect to police officers, but they tend not to be, in my experience.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Was that the point of this post? That the police had a small pool of suspects, so this would be a good candidate for DNA testing?

        • gcochran9 says:

          H. Allen Smith once talked about the Pinhole Audience, people who pay attention to some TV show for a special reason. The example was a certain family that religiously watched a particular baseball team, always hoping for rain, because their Dad was one of the guys who put out the tarp.

          This is a bit like that. There is indeed a reason for this post.

      • Acres of Statuary says:

        Ok, let’s play along then. The picture is there for a reason. What can it tell us?

        Presumably, we can ignore the Iranians, they seem to be local helpers and unlikely to get to the Boston, and the surviving women, because they are women.

        The Lamberg-Karlovskys are standing next to each other and are undoubtedly married. Lamberg is still at Harvard and is the Stephen Phillips Professor of Archaeology there. Martha was still using her hyphenated last name as recently as 2004 so they are probably still married.

        Arthur Bankoff seems to be married to Andrea, since they seem to be looking at each other and to have different genetic backgrounds. He is chairman of the Department of Archeology at Brooklyn College.

        James Humphries is at the University of Glasgow

        Couldn’t find anything about Peter Dane, except that he was an undergraduate at the time of the picture.

        Philip Kohl is currently Professor of Slavic Studies and Anthropology at Wellesley College.

        There is no hint from this little bit of information that anyone fits the ‘pinhole audience’ clue. But the point that DNA evidence would be easy to check against this relatively limited set of people is a valid one. But what would you use to test suspects’ DNA against?

        And by the way, where else could you dig up a 45 year old murder, publish a speculation about it and get a response from someone who had personally gleaned inside information about it, like ASR?

      • Sandgroper says:

        What about Mr Karlovsky?

        Greg specifically said ancient (45 year old) DNA, i.e. residual stuff from the murder scene. If they can sample someone 42,000 years old and deal with the contamination issues, something only 45 years old should not be too difficult.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        and the surviving women, because they are women.

        If you have watched any TV over the last, say, 30 years, you would know that women are just as capable of murder (for reasons of jealousy or no reason at all) as men and are able to, at 125-135lbs, take down a 6’2” 300lb man with one blow.

        Shame on you.

      • Acres of Statuary says:

        “If they can sample someone 42,000 years old and deal with the contamination issues, something only 45 years old should not be too difficult.”

        Let’s say that the murder implement is the rock supposedly in the Boston PD evidence locker. How many people have handled that bit of evidence over the last 45 years, especially before the time that PCR was widely used to amplify DNA and hence with no thought of avoiding DNA contamination? If that rock was an archeological find from Iran how many people in that group picture handled it before it was used for the murder? There may be DNA there but it’s not going to tell you much, especially in a court of law.

        “If you have watched any TV over the last, say, 30 years, you would know that women are just as capable of murder.”

        Ah, there’s my problem, I don’t watch TV.

      • Sandgroper says:

        I don’t know what 45 year old DNA Greg was referring to – I’m not one of the Pinhole Audience, I’m one of the Pinhead Audience.

        As to women being equally capable of murder, I don’t watch TV either, but given the much greater upper body strength of men, and the hormonal/behavioural differences between men and women, this statement is at least questionable.

  3. Sandgroper says:

    I mean, why do cops impose news blackouts? To try to prevent copycats. In this case, to stop all the fanciful stuff that might encourage a copycat, when it was just a boring old murder – someone whacked the girl with an axe and covered her body with a coat. The ‘sprinkled red ochre’ is horseshit – dust off the coat or something. Cops don’t think up stuff about ancient Persian civilisation by themselves.

  4. dearieme says:

    It’s not as if the use of red ochre is limited to ancient Persians anyway.

    When a pretty 23 year-old is murdered, it’s not archaeology that would be on my mind if I were the investigating officer.

  5. ASR says:

    About fifteen or twenty years ago, while doing some target shooting at a Boston pistol range, I got into a conversation with the gentleman managing the entrance desk at the range. He mentioned that he had been a Cambridge cop, at which point I revealed that I was doing some academic research on serial homicide and had done some consulting work for the FBI’s ViCAP. That got us talking about a string of unsolved murders in Cambridge starting with this one.

    Three later murders involved blitz knife attacks on women in very public places within blocks of Harvard Square. Another murder involved the disappearance of a young woman on her way home to Cambridge from Logan Airport. Her remains were found years later but no cause of death was ever given and the murder was never officially cleared.

    (In the last mentioned case, a local DA was up for re-election and got the local news media to believe he’d nailed the killer. The lead trial prosecutor actually wrote a book naming the man they convicted for another rape/murder as the killer in this case. Anybody who reads an unbiased account of all the evidence comes away with the belief that the real killer was never caught and the convicted man in this case was probably not even guilty of the murder for which he was tried and sentenced.)

    I opined then and still hold the opinion that a Harvard adjunct living in the area much of the time and with a vacation residence in VT near where another set of similar murders occurred was a plausible suspect. The gentleman with whom I was talking turned out to have been involved in the investigation of the murder you mention and suggested there was a much more likely suspect.

    He told me, off the record, that sometime after the investigation stalled another graduate student at Harvard, came to the police with a story she’d “forgotten” to mention earlier. She’d had a tryst with a male friend of one of her girlfriends. The man was an affiliate of the Harvard Anthropology Department. He’d taking her back to her room and persuaded her to get involved with some kinky sex that included bondage and some colored dirt/powder. When a knife came out, she became concerned and talked her way out of the situation. The man I was talking with did some follow-up investigation at this point and discovered that this Harvard adjunct was an acquaintance of the murdered woman and that another homicide, similar to the one that you posted on, had occurred in another state near where this ex-Harvard anthropologist was working. At this point the cop unofficially approached the Middlesex DA with all this information. The DA essentially told him to forget about it. What with issues of time lapse, legal admissibility of evidence, and issues involving cross-jurisdictional linkages of crimes, the case was too shaky to bother with.

    I’m offering this story to suggest that there’s often a lot behind such crime stories as this that never makes it into the official record. My observations of police homicide investigations also suggest that the kinds of things I heard from this cop — reluctant witnesses, compelling but inadmissible evidence, the necessity of doing cost-benefit allocations of limited police and prosecutor resources, and other, related problems — all too often impede the resolution of cases like this. All five of these high-profile, unusual murders of women in Cambridge were highly publicized and none has ever been solved.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      Yeah, one of the risks of attending Harvard, if you are a woman, is that you might get murdered.

    • Enzo Yaksic says:

      ASR – I am a serial homicide researcher that would love to chat with you. Please email me at so we can connect.

      • David P. Cavanagh says:

        Mr. Yaksic:

        I’ll be honest with you: After doing research into serial murder for a little under a decade back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I got emotionally burned when I got closer to a couple of police investigations than was probably wise. I wound up dropping my research and donating much of my library on the subject to the local police department.

        However, after researching you on the internet and running across an article describing your work in Boston Magazine, I would be very interested in getting together with you. The work you are doing sounds very valuable. It seems to resemble at least in part, the original intent of the FBI’s VICAP program. I would even be interested in discussing with you the possibility of signing on as some kind of adjunct to your research program.

        I can be reached at this email address or David.Cavanagh@State.MA.US or by calling 617-624-5096 and leaving a message.

  6. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:
    • Anonymous says:

      That’s how one Goldman Sachs partner explained the poverty of the UK compared to other Germanic language speaking countries.

      But then what about the Netherlands? It’s as non-white as Britain and has a bigger government with higher taxes (and it’s a lot richer than the UK).

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Holland introduced iodized salt in 1968.

      • Anonymous says:


        the point might be that within limits race and culture trump economic system. in the early 80s i recall e germany was better off than australia by some measures. but are e germans superior to australians?

        n korea is a disaster compared to s korea, but was better off than s korea in the 60s.

        all of the other germanic language countries in europe have bigger governments and higher taxes and have no political parties like britain’s conservatives. yet they’re richer. even ireland is richer.

        whatever the reasons, however compelling the theory, supply side economics, reagan-thatcher economics, is an empirical failure. but most white american males still believe it. or at least, the alternative is even less plausible.

      • Sandgroper says:

        “are e germans superior to australians?” Well, they set a world record in the 70s and 80s for the women’s 4x100m relay that wasn’t bettered until the American girls absolutely crushed it at the 2012 Olympics. Mind you, biochemically, those East German women were no longer women.

        Are (E) Germans superior to Australians? In productivity, undoubtedly. Once GMH and Toyota shut down over the next few years, Australia will be producing virtually nothing outside of agriculture and the mining of raw minerals, and both of those are now run largely by big multi-national companies.

      • Sandgroper says:

        Meanwhile, it is kind of interesting that Australia was an early (pre-WWII) adopter of iodised salt, but that iodine deficiency is now emerging again as a big problem in Australia.

      • Sandgroper says:

        …where ‘now emerging’ means ‘has already been going on for quite a while, but only recently have the media begun paying attention to the warning signals that the scientists have been making for quite a while, because they’re too busy repeating the mindless mantras taught to the dieticians.

  7. Greying Wanderer says:

    interesting body language

  8. little spoon says:

    What percentage of murders are actually interesting? Like simulated ancient persian burial stuff. People write thousands of novels a year with interesting murders, but I’d be surprised if even five such murders happened per year.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      Probably true although now I’m wondering if academic murders are more interesting / unsolved than average.

      • Sandgroper says:

        You get a lot of real creeps hanging around universities.

        There was one guy in my class who openly self-identified as a Nazi and attended lectures in a self-designed brown uniform every day, complete with epaulettes and a matching brown necktie. He was sued by a feminist law student after he slandered her in a student newspaper – the guys asked me for a donation to help with his legal defence. I told them to f*ck off. No wonder they said I was ‘arrogant’.

      • Gordo says:

        Was it the Nazi guy or the feminist who was the creep?

      • Sandgroper says:


  9. derek sutton says:

    What’s with the cryptic post? Clearly you have more to say, so say it!

  10. Flinders Petrie says:

    There is still a fair amount of whispering about this unsolved murder in the labyrinth halls of the Peabody.

    One would expect that the mysterious ‘archaeological implement’ murder weapon would answer a lot of questions. In looking through old Crimson articles, the tool was eventually found by police, so it must be around somewhere…probably in some dusty filing cabinet at the Cambridge P.D.

    Also, there were reports of marks on her face:,2322561

    • Bruce Banner says:

      This reminds me of a story by Mircea Eliade with a similar plot. Actually, the plot was much thicker as it involved Kali rituals, incest, murder and arson, and a thwarted love affair between a European visiting scholar and the daughter of an Indian academic under British rule. I’m not sure whether it was the novel “Maitreyi” or an earlier short story of his.
      Mircea Eliade was propably a better writer than anthropologist.

  11. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    They always blame the environment:

    I wish I still had teeth

  12. j3morecharacters says:

    The use of red ochre in the burial ceremony may point to several interesting possibilities;

    (1) The murderer or the victim was an American Indian or an academic related to American Indian studies. A series of archaeological sites located in the Upper Great Lakes, the Greater Illinois River Valley, and the Ohio River Valley in the American Midwest have been discovered to be a Red Ocher people’s burial sites, dating from 1000 BC to 400 BC.

    (2) The red ochre was intended to re-create some ancient real or imagined ceremony. Paintings of animals made with red and yellow ochre pigments have been found in neolithic sites at Pech Merle in France (ca. 25,000 years old), and the cave of Altamira in Spain (ca. 15,000-16,500 BC). Neolithic burials used red ochre pigments symbolically, either to represent a return to the earth or as a form of ritual rebirth.

    (3) Neanderthal burials finds in Israel have de-meated skulls plastered with red ochre. It is interpreted as the Neanderthals practicing some kind of trascendental religion that believed in the existence of human soul (of the Neanderthal variety).

    An armchair detective should ask: Is there anyone on the pic connected to any of the three academic fields described? or were Midwest Indians or Neanderthal people around? Extrapolating Greg’s line of thinking, I’d interrogate the Neanderthals.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Hell, it’s almost easier to tick off a list of who *didn’t* use it. How do we know Mungo Man wasn’t hangin’ around?

      Personally I’m getting a bit sceptical about all this red ochre being tossed around by every hominin who ever lived – it’s beginning to smack of a lack of imagination.

      • j3morecharacters says:

        Thank you Sand for calling my attention to the swarthy figure at the right. Those Mungo Men are known to have used red ochre to ensure that their victims did not return to haunt them.

  13. j3morecharacters says:

    PS.: “You will not apply my precept,” Sherlock said, shaking his head. “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” (from The Sign of the Four)

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Police suspected that this crime was committed by someone in the department of anthropology at Harvard.”

    I think this is very unlikely or has been misreported. It’s not as if it would be difficult to find out who was the expert on Persia in the department. I doubt there was more than one.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      If I was investigating my first assumption would be the person giving me the red ochre spiel did it and was trying to misdirect onto someone else.

  15. Bruce Banner says:

    90% of the time in these cases the motive is jealousy. Maybe they were looking for a male culprit when they should have been looking for a female murderer.

  16. dearieme says:

    Nice Landrover they had there.

  17. The police will sometimes withhold information because there are too many people calling in to confess to high-profile crimes. It helps eliminate a lot of those.

    It is supposedly psychotic people who do this, but I have never met one in my career, so I am suspicious. One clearly has to be off one’s onion to confess to a crime one didn’t commit, but it hasn’t shown up on my radar.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Information on child-teenage suicides is now suppressed here for that reason (annual stats are available, but the media don’t report/publish stories on individual cases), but I don’t know if violent crime follows the same pattern.

      OT, interesting case here yesterday – police were called to a location where a 21 year old guy was threatening a building security guard with a box cutter. Just as police arrived, the guy’s estranged wife emerged from an elevator, and he lunged at his wife with the box cutter, trying to slash her with it. A police woman pulled the wife out of the way and stepped between the wife and the guy to protect her, while other police were shouting at him to calm down, put down the cutter, etc., the guy lunged at the police woman with the box cutter, trying to slash her with it, another police officer drew his sidearm and shot him, killing him – and you can predict the vocal reaction – police brutality, and what a tragedy, he was so young and all. I haven’t seen any praise for the courage of the police woman.

      • Sandgroper says:

        Correction, two of them shot him. That’s the really weird thing about cops – they don’t like their female colleagues being viciously attacked by weapon-wielding males. I have noticed that before, when a male Korean ‘rice farmer’ protesting about something-or-other started bashing into a police woman on crowd control duty with a steel bar. The other cops reacted protectively. Brutal people.

  18. Sandgroper says:

    Interestingly, someone has posted a photograph of Jane Britton’s skull. You can observe the head injuries and strange facial markings.

  19. ASR says:

    One final, interesting aspect to this murder. Just over four years earlier and in a close-by apartment a female student from the New England Conservatory was stabbed to death. At the time every murder of a woman in Eastern Massachusetts was attributed to the “Boston Strangler”. But it’s pretty clear now that this 1964 murder was not related to the genuine “Strangler” murders. On the other hand it might have started a string of six such unsolved murders in Cambridge – including Britton’s – that occurred over the next twenty or so years and these, in turn, might be related to a cluster of similar murders in Vermont (and perhaps some other clusters).

  20. Toddy Cat says:

    “You get a lot of real creeps hanging around universities. ”

    Yeah, and probably more in 1969 than now. I remember that time, and all I can say is that if you assume that pretty much all of America went batshit crazy between 1968 and 1973, you wouldn’t be too far wrong. I admit, murdering some girl and burying her according to some drugged-up version of an ancient Persian burial rite sounds pretty unlikely, but in 1969, it was certainly possible.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Hadn’t thought of that – excellent point. Things were very much less crazy in Oz, to the extent that, aside from some fairly tame anti-Vietnam War protesting, it basically didn’t happen.

    • Toad says:

      pretty much all of America went batshit crazy between 1968 and 1973

      So you’re saying things have got less crazy since 1973?

    • Acres of Statuary says:

      “I admit, murdering some girl”

      I missed the comma the first time I read that.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Glad that you caught it. No I was far too young in 1969 to be murdering anyone at Harvard. Besides, that whole red-ochre Persian thing just isn’t my style…

  21. Toddy Cat says:

    At least outside of Academia, things got a bit less crazy between about 1973 and 2006 or so. The crazies retreated into academia as part of their “long march through the institutions”, and things settled down a bit, although they were still crazier than pre-1968. But the Iraq War brought the loonies out again, and they have been feeling their oats since the election of The One. Today is actually a lot like the ’60’s, only with fewer chicks and drugs and worse music, but with social media. Not an improvement, INHO.

  22. FaxMan says:

    pretty much all of America went batshit crazy between 1968 and 1973.

    This reminds me of another campus murder of that era, the 1969 murder of grad student Paget Weatherly at the University of Connecticut. Paget Weatherly was murdered off campus. Here is a request dated 2003 from the University of Connecticut Libraries for a copy of a book about the case .

    The late Richard Stephenson published Nightmare: The Story of Paget Weatherly(Parousia Press) in 1972. His 72-page book dealt with his stepdaughter’s alleged witnessing of the murder, a few years earlier, of Paget Weatherly, a UConn co-ed. The murder,which remains unsolved, was a local sensation that received regular press coverage for a period of time. Although the book was distributed through the UConn Bookstore, the University Libraries did not acquire a copy at the time. Only seven US libraries own a copy of this book and none are available from the wealth of used book sites on the Internet. Special Collections & Archives would very much like to have a copy for its collections. If you have a copy you are willing to contribute, please contact Betsy Pittman, University Archivist.

    The UConn Library was successful in getting a copy of Stephenson’s book on the Paget Weatherly case.

    One would hope that an information professional seeking a book on the Paget Weatherly case would have been up-to-date on the case. It turns out that the Paget Weatherly case, contrary to what this university archivist believed in 2003,had been solved a over a quarter of a century earlier.

    Richard Delage, now 32, was sentenced Monday to life in prison for a crime he committed when he was 15 years old -the shooting death of Long Island schoolteacher Carol Segretta. “He shot her down in cold blood,” Westchester County Court Judge John Couzens said in imposing the life sentence, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 20 years….
    The body of Miss Segretta, 24, a schoolteacher from Troy, N.Y., was found July 20, 1960, in her car parked off the Taconic Parkway in Yorktown, Heights, N.Y. She had been shot four times — twice in the head and twice in the back. The case remained unsolved until Delage, arrested in the 1975 kidnaping of a Mansfield, Conn., woman, confessed to the slaying of Miss Segretta as well as the 1969 shooting death of Paget Weatherly, a University of Connecticut graduate student. Couzens said Delage’s history of violence went back to 1960. The 1969 murder, the judge said, was “the same story: kidnaping, handcuffs, a sawed- off .22 rifle with a silencer, knife. Now your attorney wants me to give you a concurrent sentence.” *

    In defense of the archivist, I don’t know if this newspaper information was available in 2003.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      By the way, this caught my attention above;

      “n korea is a disaster compared to s korea, but was better off than s korea in the 60s.”

      This would seem to indicate the unreliability of economic statistics with regard to North Korea more than anything else. Some of my friend’s families were stationed in South Korea in the 1960’s and while it was pretty poor compared to the U.S., they didn’t report any starvation, people eating grass, etc. I’d be willing to bet that if you plopped South Korea as it was in the 1960’s down next to North Korea and opened the border, the refugees would pour across, and I’d be willing to bet that it wouldn’t be in the direction of North Korea.

      • reiner Tor says:

        People don’t just live off food. Life was unpleasant in North Korea. But they got huge aid from the Soviets until maybe 1989 or 1990, and so there was definitely no starvation until the early 90s. In around 1994, their economy reportedly collapsed, and starvation set in.

  23. Gordo says:

    It is a nice Land Rover, I used to own one. Please tell us more about this case Dr Cochran.

  24. Toddy Cat says:

    As I recall, there was a pretty constant flow of refugees over the border in the 1960’s, as well, but I understand your point. But I remember when Communism collapsed in East Germany back in 1989, they found that the CIA had been grossly overestimating the prosperity of the place. I’d be willing to bet that the same hold for NK.

    • reiner Tor says:

      I understand your point

      Just to avoid being confused with the other commenter, wasn’t that North Korea was better off in the 1960 than South Korea (I don’t believe that either, even in the purely material sense of having larger bowls of rice), but that there was no starvation. I find it possible that living standards were not much worse in North Korea at the time than in South Korea. But life must have been immensely uncomfortable in North Korea, regardless of material comforts, so people must have wanted out of North Korea even before starvation set in.

      RE: East Germany. From Hungary, if what my elders tell me is to be believed, East Germany seemed to be an economically better off country, nevertheless we found them to be impossibly rigid and ideological. For example when I was in East Germany with my mother and brother as a small child to visit my father who worked there for half a year or so, two rude female East German customs officers set us apart from the rest of the passengers, led us into a room, left us there for twenty minutes (during which we were crying with my brother and my mom, who couldn’t speak German, so didn’t understand the whole thing either, tried to console us, not knowing what was in store for us), and then they finally opened our suitcase containing a couple of plastic pistols (which they apparently spotted under x-ray). One of them was orange (and looked nothing like a real pistol, rather a toy for children below the age of six, I wasn’t happy with it because it wasn’t realistic at all for me), the other black (but even this more realistic black one looked nothing like a real pistol), and the women tried to shoot them for two minutes (as a child, I was extremely frightened because I seriously didn’t understand it – how could they not see that they were toys? why were they trying for so long? what other crazy things might these apparently imbecile, but nevertheless seemingly powerful creatures do?), and then finally they recognized that this was a toy, and let us put it back into the suitcase, and let us board the airplane.

      I don’t think a Hungarian customs officer (who would most likely have been male) would have been looking for anything else but pornography (which he could confiscate and then take for himself) or alcoholic beverages (same thing, confiscation and drinking it) or other valuable contraband (same thing, confiscation, privatization). But he wouldn’t have been looking too hard in the suitcase of a frightened young woman and her two children, especially not trying to find guns. (Actually, we were leaving the country. So presumably my mom managed to buy a gun and tried to smuggle it out of rigid East Germany and into much laxer Hungary in the check-in luggage…)

  25. Chris Sharry says:

    It looks like someone was trying to make it look like an anthropology dept member did it. However, Ravi Rikhye, her dogdy neighbor and his associates should have been looked at closer.

  26. Paris Merriam says:

    Sounds like one of her professors did it. After all, college girls are notorious for sleeping around with professors. So who taught Persian studies or Anthropology at Harvard back then?

    • ASR says:

      I commented on this several times when the subject was first raised. Read my comments, posted as ASR. I talked informally with a retired Cambridge police officer who had been a lead detective in the investigation. He had strong reasons for suspecting an affiliate of the Anthropology Department, not a professor but as best I could determine from the officer’s description a post-doc or graduate student. As I mention in my posts, I had a different theory.

  27. magusjanus says:

    Seems case has been closed:

    “The profile made in 2017 came back to a man named Michael Sumpter.
    Sumpter lived in Cambridge as a young child, dated a girl in Cambridge in the mid-1960s and, in 1967, was working on Arrow Street – just a mile from Jane Britton’s apartment.
    Sumpter was arrested and convicted of physically assaulting a woman he met at the Harvard Square MBTA station three years after Jane’s murder.
    But in 1975, Sumpter was out of jail and raped a woman in her Boston apartment. It was then that he was sent to prison for 15-20 years.
    Just 13 months after he was paroled, Sumpter died on Cancer in 2001.
    After his death, Sumpter’s DNA profile was matched to the rape and murder of 23-year-old Ellen Rutchick in her Beacon Street Apartment in 1972. He was also connected to the 1973 rape and murder of 24-year-old Mary Lee McClain in her Mount Vernon Street Apartment.
    He was also eventually connected to a 1985 rape, which police say he committed after escaping from work release.
    In 2018, 17 years after his death, investigators finally matched the profile for Jane’s killer closely enough to Sumpter’s brother to determine that Michael Sumpter was the man who apparently scaled Jane’s fire escape on the evening of January 6, 1969, and raped and murdered her in her apartment. “

  28. ASR says:

    I have always been interested in this case. All prior theories – mine and others – were completely off-base. I wonder if postings on West Hunter might have helped provide the impetus to finally do the DNA test that revealed a serial murderer and solved this and three other unsolved rape-murders in Cambridge and Boston. If so, kudos to Professor Cochran!

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