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Police hoping new info leads to tips in 5 deaths

January 20, 2011 3:51:44 AM PST
Police in Connecticut and Massachusetts investigating the cold-case deaths of five women identified one victim found in 2007 on Wednesday and announced that two others whose remains were discovered in 1995 were likely a mother and daughter.

Authorities said during a news conference at the New Britain Police Department that they're hoping the information generates new leads in the cases. No one has been charged in any of the deaths, and police say it's still not clear if all the cases are related.

Four victims' remains were discovered behind the same shopping plaza off Hartford Road in New Britain, including three found in 2007 and one in 1995. Police say the fifth woman, believed to be the 1995 victim's mother, was found eight days later in 1995 near the entrance of the Tolland State Forest in Tolland, Mass.

Police announced that they identified one of the 2007 victims as Diane Cusack, whose last known address was in New Britain. She would have been 52 years old when her skeletal remains were found.

None of the other victims has been identified.

"It is a huge step forward for us in the investigation," said New Britain police Lt. James Wardwell, adding that the identification led authorities to friends and acquaintances of Cusack. Authorities didn't disclose what information was revealed in those interviews.

Wardwell said Cusack's brother, whose name was not released, called police after seeing media reports about new developments in the cold cases last year, saying he was concerned because he hadn't talked with his sister in a long time. Cusack was later identified through dental records and DNA tests, Wardwell said.

Cusack had been out of contact with her family for years and was never reported missing, Wardwell said.

Police said much about Cusack remains unknown including what jobs she held. Wardwell said she had a few misdemeanors and infractions on her record, but he wouldn't disclose the charges.

New Britain police last had contact with her in 2003 in what he called a routine landlord-tenant dispute involving misplaced property.

Cusack's remains were among the skeletal remains of three women found in woods behind the New Britain shopping plaza in 2007. Their causes of death remain undetermined.

Police are also hoping that the announcement that the 1995 victims were likely mother and daughter creates leads in those cases. Authorities believe their deaths may be related.

The younger woman was found with a gunshot wound and wrapped in sleeping bags behind the shopping plaza on Sept. 28, 1995.

Authorities said she was 17 to 20 years old, about 5 foot 3 inches and 116 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair styled and held in place with bobby pins and an elastic ponytail holder. Police say she also had a naval piercing, which was more uncommon back then.

The older woman was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in Tolland, Mass., on Oct. 6, 1995. Massachusetts State Police Lt.

Stephen Griffin said she was 30 to 45 years old, about 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall and 120 to 130 pounds. He said she was wearing maroon or red eyeglasses and several pieces of jewelry, and she had partial upper and lower dentures.

She was wearing a sweatshirt that police believe was bought in the Albany, N.Y., area, Griffin said. Authorities also said forensic tests using oxygen isotopes indicated that she could have lived in upstate New York.

The 1995 victims were Caucasian or Hispanic, police said.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the deaths to call New Britain police at 860-826-3065 or Massachusetts State Police at 413-747-4810 weekdays or 413-862-3312 after hours.

"Every single tip will be followed up upon," Wardwell said. "I can't stress enough how important it is for people to call."

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