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Body Found In New Hampshire In 1971 Identified By DNA As Missing Massachusetts Woman

Kathy Alston hasn't been seen since she missed seeing her parents off on a flight out of Boston's Logan Airport in 1971. DNA shows her body had already been dumped in a wooded area in New Hampshire.

By Megan Carpentier
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New Hampshire authorities announced this week that they had finally identified the body of a woman discovered in a wooded area in the southern part of the state in 1971.

The body discovered in a then-wooded area of Bedford, New Hampshire — about 20 miles north of the Massachusetts border — just off the Everett Turnpike in the fall of 1971 has been identified as Massachusetts woman Katherine Ann Alston, 26, New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella said in a press release.

Alston, who was born and raised in Boston, went missing in 1971. Her parents and siblings had decided to move to Texas, where her father's family was from, and she'd made plans to see them off at Boston's Logan Airport but never showed up. They never heard from her again.

At that time, Alston — who had gotten married to fellow Boston University classmate Ralph Lawson Garrett, Jr. in 1967 but was amicably divorced at the time of her disappearance — was living with a roommate named David Cormier on Beacon Street near the Massachusetts State House in Boston, some 50 miles from where her body was found.

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There are no records that show that he or her family officially reported her missing. Her ex-husband has since died.

A handout photo of cold case victim Katherine Alston

A then-unidentified woman's body was discovered in New Hampshire on Oct. 6, in a then-wooded area in Bedford off what was then one of the major roads leading from Boston to Manchester. Police thought she was 25-35 years old and she'd been dead for between one and three months, but could not determine a specific cause of death because of how long her body had been outside. Her manner of death was determined to be a homicide.

They estimated she'd been between 5'1 and 5'4" tall, and knew she had brown hair. She was found in a maroon, pullover shirt with a lace collar, hip-hugging denim Daisy Duke-style shorts and size 7 sandals. There was no identification with her body.

In 1993 and 2006, New Hampshire State Police and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner worked with experts to develop clay reconstructions of the Jane Doe's face and, in 2020, they attempted a digital reconstruction in order to identify her. None were successful.

After the final facial reconstruction failed to turn up any new leads, the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit worked with the DNA Doe Project to use genetic genealogy, and ultimate connected a DNA profile obtained from the Jane Doe with a profile submitted by a member of Alston's family in Texas to a direct-to-consumer DNA database. Further testing confirmed the 1971 Jane Doe was Kathy Alston.

Investigators are now trying to determine her killer.

New Hampshire police are looking to speak to Alston's roommate at the time of her disappearance, David Cormier, and anyone who knew either Alston or Cormier in Boston, Dorchester or Somerville between 1963 and the fall of 1971, including former Boston University students who were on campus between 1963 and 1967. Anyone with this information, or any other information, can contact investigators at the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit by phone (603-271-2663), at coldcaseunit@dos.nh.gov or by using the online tip form at www.doj.nh.doj/criminal/cold-case.