Three women whose remains were discovered behind a city strip mall in 2007 were the victims of the same serial killer, according to authorities at a press conference Friday morning.
Authorities are offering a $150,000 reward, the largest reward ever in the state of Connecticut for information that leads to the capture of the unknown killer.
It's been a mystery, but every few years new and promising leads have materialized.
"The deaths of all three women were classified as homicides and our investigation has revealed that these murders were committed by the same offender at different times," said New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell.
Friday morning police announced that Mary Jane Menard, 40, of New Britain, was the third victim. Menard was reported missing during the fall of 2003.
According to Chief Wardwell, Menard's daughter was serving overseas during the time of her disappearance.
Her adult children were on hand as police announced her remains were among the bones of three women found in 2007, and their deaths were the work of a serial killer.
Wardwell expressed his sympathies to the families of all three victims.
"Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family of Mary Jane Menard, as well as the loved ones of Joyvaline Martinez and Diane Cusack," Wardwell said
At first the bodies were known only as Jane Does; then identifications were firmed up through forensics. Joyvaline Martinez of East Hartford and Diane Cusack had both been reported missing since summer/fall 2003.
Cusack's remains' were identified in 2010, and in September 2013 the remains of Joyvaline Martinez of East Hartford were identified.
Martinez was laid to rest one year ago today.
"My sister is with me and I feel her with me, and that's why I know we're going to catch him, we're gonna get him," said Joyvaline's oldest sister, Madie Cuascut.
The chief of the New Britain Police Department also announced Friday the formation of the Greater New Britain Serial Murder Task Force, a joint task force between various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, intended to catch the killer.
The Greater New Britain Serial Murder Task Force consists of members of the New Britain, Hartford, Waterbury and East Hartford police departments, Connecticut State Police, the FBI and the Office of the Connecticut Chief State's Attorney.
While the victims didn't know each other, the three were believed to frequent the area in Downtown New Britain bordered by Main street, Lafayette Street and Washington Street.
"I want to emphasize that although these women may have been struggling with substance abuse issues at the time of their murders, they were mothers and daughters, sisters and neighbors. To this day they are loved and missed by the families and friends they've left behind." Wardwell said.
Wardwell said Friday that authorities do not believe the remains of Elizabeth Honsch, a woman whose body was found behind the same strip mall in 1995 were connected to three women found in 2007.
"I am able to tell you today that these three murders appear to be completely unrelated to the killing of Elizabeth Honsch, who was found murdered behind the same mall in 1995," Wardwell said.
Madie Cuascut, the oldest sister of Joyvaline Martinez, said she was grateful to learn of the large reward and confident that it would lead to an arrest.
"We're going to get him," Cuascut said. "I'm so thankful that now there's a large reward. Somebody's going to give him up."
Anonymous tips can be reported to New Britain police via (860) 826-3199.
Tips may be sent by text messaging to (860) 801-1004 or send an email to Crimetips@NewBritainCT.gov.