NEW BRITAIN — New Britain police have announced a major update in the investigation of the discovery of new human remains found over the past few weeks at a location where partial remains of three women were discovered in 2007.
While the three bodies found in 2007 were previously identified as 53-year-old Diane Cusack, 23-year-old Joyvaline Martinez and 40-year-old Mary Jane Menard, New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said on Monday that “the total number of bodies recovered at this time is at least seven." Those remains have been turned over to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to be identified.
On Monday, police identified one of the newly discovered victims as Melanie Ruth Camilini, born on May 11, 1973. The Seymour resident was a mother of two when she went missing from Waterbury in January 2003, and on the day it was announced that her remains were found she would have celebrated her 42nd birthday.
“It’s appropriate we remember Melanie today and begin the process of bringing her home to her family,” said Wardwell.
Chief state's attorney Kevin Kane said that while they cannot name a suspect due to the ongoing investigation, there is no danger to the public at this time. He said they are confident that only one person was involved, but he would not confirm if a suspect was in custody or why that person was not a threat to the public. However, The Hartford Courant reports that investigators are focusing their serial-killer case on a single suspect, who is already in prison.
The investigation into the skeletal remains began on August 20, 2007 when a local resident reported finding a body in the woods. He was scouting for hunting locations in the wooded area behind 593 Hartford Rd. in New Britain. There are 15 acres of wooded, swampy area behind a shopping mall on Hartford Road.
After the report was made to police, they began a ground search of the area and found remains from three bodies, later identified as Diane Cusack, Joyvaline Martinez and Mary Jane Menard.
Cusack was the first to be identified in December 2010; she had last been seen in the late summer or early fall on 2003. In early 2013 Martinez was identified; she had last been seen on October 10, 2003. Then in September 2013 the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner identified Menard, who was last seen in 2003.
Police had previously determined that all three women were killed by the same suspect at different times, and in early 2014 the New Britain Serial Killer Task Force was created to investigate.
The serial killer task force is made up of members from the New Britain, Hartford, East Hartford, Waterbury and Wethersfield police departments, as well as Connecticut State Police, FBI, office of the chief's state's attorney, office of the state's attorney for the judicial district of New Britain, office of the state's attorney for the judicial district of Litchfield and he office of the state's attorney for the judicial district of Waterbury. Members from the forensic department and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are part of the team as well.
Every year since the women's bodies were first found in 2007 investigators have returned to the wooded area to search for more remains. However, until now only one small area had been marked by cadaver dogs to search.
Last year, the FBI offered to use a new canine that had advanced search capabilities, but the dog could only successfully search for more remains in early spring or late fall. That is why the task force returned to search the area on April 21, 2015, the first time after acquiring the dog that the area was optimal to be searched.
On April 21 two canines alerted the search team to new specific areas to look at, and over the next three days investigators mapped the area and used ground penetrating radar.
The team then created a road to bring in heavy equipment, and the excavation began. It lasted for about one week and ended on May 7.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has determined that the additional remains found belong to an additional four women, bringing the death toll from what is believed to be one serial killer up to seven. The remains have been there for at least 10 years, according to the medical examiner, adding credence to the belief that one person killed all seven women.
There's a $150,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.