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'They Got Their Names Back,' Says Librarian Who Helped Solve Bear Brook Barrels Case
Thanks to Rebekah Heath's sleuthing skills, Marlyse Honeychurch and her two daughters, Marie Vaughn and Sarah McWaters, were identified after their remains were found in barrels.
It was a cold case that baffled New Hampshire police for decades.
The bodies of four women were found in two barrels at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, New Hampshire 15 years apart. The first two bodies were found stuffed in a barrel in 1985, and the other two were found in another barrel in the same area in 2000. They remained unidentified for decades, their killer unpunished.
Then, this year, there was a major break in the case. Not only were most of the victims named, but their suspected killer was pinpointed — and it was one of the victims' relatives.
While one of them still remains unidentified, officials announced that three of the bodies were identified as Marlyse Elizabeth Honeychurch, 24, and her two daughters, Marie Elizabeth Vaughn, 6, and Sarah Lynn McWaters, 1. The conclusion was made through DNA testing and genetic genealogy. While the fourth remains unidentified, law enforcement believe that it’s the daughter of Terry Peder Rasmussen, who they think killed all four.
Rasmussen passed away in 2010 while serving time in prison for killing Eunsoon Jun in 2002.
The identification of the victims, in the case known for years as both the Bear Brook murders and the Allenstown Four, came about after joint efforts between law enforcement and amateur sleuths, one of whom was a Connecticut librarian named Rebekah Heath.
Two years before Rasmussen was linked to the murders, investigators announced that a man named Bob Evans likely killed the four victims. They also announced that the name was an alias for Rasmussen, a man who went by many different names in his lifetime.
Heath started going through ancestry message boards looking for possible relatives of the victims, compiling a list of potential suspects. Soon, she found a 1999 post about a relative looking for someone named Sarah McWaters and her mother, Marlyse McWaters, CNN reported.
Upon further research, the librarian discovered that McWaters was also the mother of another girl named Marie Vaughn.
She reached out to the relative after hearing a podcast on the unsolved murders, who told her that the missing mother had left California with a man named Terry. That led to DNA testing of surviving relatives and basically led to a break in the case within a week of Heath reaching out.
Heath made an appearance on an episode of “Dr. Oz,” which aired Tuesday, September 17, to discuss how she helped bring closure to the victim's family.
“Bittersweet is really the only word that I can come up with,” she said. “I feel happy that they got their names back. They deserve their identities back. But the reality is that these family members have to really come to terms with such horrific, horrific facts, and that's really difficult. But I do find contentment in knowing that they are all going home.”
Investigative journalist Billy Jensen, who has also been credited for advancing this case and keeping attention on it, also made an appearance on Tuesday’s episode of “Dr. Oz.”