Man charged in NH cold case stabbing known to copsBy LYNNE TUOHY , Associated Press
Jul. 27, 2013 6:18 PM ET
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A convicted killer now accused of the 1991 stabbing of a Plymouth State College associate registrar had been considered a possible suspect nearly two decades ago but was never charged.
Massachusetts inmate Craig Conkey, 46, was charged Tuesday with killing 30-year-old Theresa "Tess" Reed in her Plymouth apartment a stone's throw from campus a week after the fall semester got underway in September 1991.
Conkey is serving two life sentences for killing two women in Lexington, Mass., in 1992 and 1994.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin declined to comment Friday on what prompted the state's cold case squad to reopen the investigation into Reed's murder last year and what evidence it gleaned to arrest Conkey.
But Conkey's lawyer in Massachusetts, Bernard Grossberg, told The Associated Press that Conkey contacted authorities last year about his involvement in "a very old homicide" in New Hampshire.
"My recollection is that he brought his involvement to their attention, and at first they didn't know what he was talking about, and they had to go back and open up this old case," Grossberg said.
But Conkey's name had already been familiar to Plymouth police.
Lexington detectives who charged Conkey with the 1994 rape and murder of 49-year-old Mary Lou Sale came to Plymouth the following May to talk with detectives about the similarities of the Reed and Sale cases. Both women were found next to their beds in apartments where they lived alone. Sale, however, had been strangled. New Hampshire investigators have not said whether Reed was sexually assaulted.
Conkey grew up in Dorchester, N.H., and was living with relatives in Rumney — about 6 miles from the college campus — when Reed was killed. Conkey's fingerprints, taken after several misdemeanor arrests in 1990, were used to link him to Sale's murder.
Retired PSU vice president Dick Hage, who was dean of students and a close friend and colleague at the time of Reed's death, said Friday that he doesn't believe Reed knew Conkey. He recalled Reed's warm personality and how the small town was shrouded in fear and anxiety after her death.
"She was vibrant, happy, full of contagious enthusiasm and just a wonderful person," Hage recalled. "She brightened a room when she walked in and cared deeply about students."
"After that, you didn't walk alone at night," Hage said. "It was shocking."
After the stabbing, local merchants reported an increased sale in ammunition, door locks, mace and newspapers. That her killer was still loose was unnerving.
Conkey, who is charged with first- and second-degree murder, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Grafton Superior Court, but Strelzin said the defendant won't be there. Strelzin anticipates meeting with public defenders in the judge's chambers to go over scheduling issues and said New Hampshire officials will have to file a detainer with Massachusetts corrections officials as a first step in bringing Conkey here.
Hage, who said he regularly sees Reed's brother and father, is hoping the arrest brings some solace to her family and friends.
"It would be nice to have some closure and some justice," Hage said.