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A New England man convicted of his wife’s 1995 murder five years ago has now been found guilty of murdering his teenage daughter.
On Wednesday, a jury in Connecticut found Robert Honsch guilty for the 1995 murder of his 17-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Honsch, according to New Britain State’s Attorney Brian W. Preleski. Elizabeth was found shot to death in a New Britain parking lot, but it would take years for authorities to identify her body.
Robert’s wife, Marcia Honsch, 53, was found dead eight days later, according to the Hartford Courant. She, too, would not be identified for nearly 20 years.
It started on Sept. 29, 1995, when patrol officers found a body wrapped in sleeping bags and garbage bags behind a Connecticut shopping plaza, according to court records. At the time, there was nothing to identify the female victim, who was believed to be between 17 and 20 years old, stated the New Britain Police Department.
According to the Courant, the young woman was still warm to the touch when officers found her, having died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Court records show detectives dusted three palm prints from the garbage bags, but it would be hard to prove anything without having a suspect for comparison.
The leads were few, and no one called in a missing persons report matching the victim’s description.
Then, on Oct. 6, 1995, a hiker came upon a second body in the Tolland State Forest in Tolland, Massachusetts, 40 miles away from the first crime scene. The unidentified woman also sustained a gunshot wound to the head. She was believed to have been killed approximately one week before she was found.
“In the months and years to follow the discovery of these two unidentified females, the New Britain Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police worked together on the theory that these crimes were connected,” stated the New Britain police. “Over the years, there were no reports of missing persons that seemed to correspond to either victim.”
Police said evidence found at the second crime scene led detectives to believe the women – later determined to be mother and daughter – had a connection to the upstate New York area. According to The Courant, a tax stamp on a pack of Carlton cigarettes and unique clothing helped authorities focus there.
Then, in 2014, relatives in Dutchess County, New York reported Elizabeth Honsch and Marcia Honsch had been missing since 1995, police stated. What prompted family members to file a report 19 years after their sudden disappearances from Brewster, New York, remains unclear.
Through interviews with relatives, police learned that Marcia left the Bronx to be with Robert Honsch and gave birth to Elizabeth in 1979. The three of them moved to Brewster in the early 1980s, according to an affidavit cited by The Courant. Family members reported incidents of alleged violence, including a time when Marcia emerged from a bedroom while bleeding from the mouth following an argument with Robert.
Flash forward to the fall of 1995, when Robert told Marcia’s family that they were moving to Australia for a job. He claimed Marcia already had a head start and left before him.
No one heard from either Marcia or Elizabeth ever again.
Robert Honsch fell off the radar and spent years in South Africa before returning to the United States, according to the State’s Attorney’s office. It wasn’t until 2006 that Robert reappeared.
Around this time, Robert’s new wife, Sheryl Tyree, wrote a letter to Robert’s brother and his family. Sheryl claimed Robert was living another life under her name and had told her he had no siblings, no other marriages, and no children.
Robert’s brother and sister-in-law relayed the information to Marcia’s family; the group had remained in touch over the years.
“Robert Honsch was later found in Ohio remarried with children and living under the name of Robert Tyree,” State’s Attorney Preleski stated.
Honsch was arrested in Ohio in 2014 and claimed to have little recollection of 1995. At one point, he told relatives he had amnesia, according to the Courant.
“The crimes this individual is accused of committing are incredibly heinous,” said then-Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “And we are pleased that we were able to assist the out-of-state authorities in locating this suspect and getting him off the streets.”
In 2017, a Hampden County jury in Massachusetts found Honcsh guilty of first-degree murder for Marcia’s death. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Following Wednesday’s conviction for Elizabeth Honsch’s murder, State’s Attorney Brian W. Preleski thanked the many agencies who assisted on the double murder investigation over the years, including authorities in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts.
Robert Honsch is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on June 15, 2022.
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