Burlington Police to announce news on Rita Curran cold case
Burlington Police have an update on a case that has stumped detectives for nearly 52 years.
Rita Curran was violently murdered in her Burlington apartment in 1971. The murder caused ripples of fear in a time when many Burlingtonians left front doors unlocked, and the killer has remained a mystery ever since.
What we learned on Feb. 21, 2022:Rita Curran murder solved: What DNA on a cigarette butt showed after nearly 52 years
Acting chief Jon Murad of the Burlington Police Department announced Thursday in an emailed statement that new developments in the oldest unsolved case in city history will be announced at a news conference Tuesday. Police, scientists, Curran's family members and prosecutors will be present to speak, according to the statement.
Looking back at the Rita Curran case
Curran was a 24-year-old second-grade teacher when she was murdered. It was summer, and she had just moved out of her parents' home for the first time to live in a house on Brookes Avenue with roommates, whom she didn't know well. She was spending the summer working as a maid at a local motel and taking graduate courses at the University of Vermont. She was murdered around midnight on July 19 and was found strangled, beaten and sexually assaulted.
More:Rita Curran's murder in Burlington remains unsolved after 50 years. Can justice be served?
Police have investigated hundreds of tips related to the case in the past 50 years, said Detective Thomas Chenette in an interview with the Free Press in 2021. The case was revived in 2019 when the Burlington Police Department began to look back into it in greater detail. The department decided to involve the whole detective team instead of just assigning the case to one officer.
"We believe this case is absolutely still solvable, but time is of the essence," Chenette wrote in an email in July 2021.
The question of Bundy involvement
Serial killer Ted Bundy was a suspect early in the investigation of Curran's murder, said retired FBI agent John Bassett in a book about Bundy's life written by Ann Rule. Bundy was thought to be in the area during the summer of Curran's murder, was born in Burlington and was famous for murdering young women who looked like Curran, but he was ruled out in 1989 when detectives questioned him before his execution, said former Sen. Patrick Leahy in an interview with the Associated Press in 2016.
More:Why does Ted Bundy's name keep coming up in Burlington cold case? What we know.
Leahy was Chittenden County prosecutor at the time of Curran's murder. Former Burlington Police Chief Kevin Scully told the Associated Press in January 1989 that detectives believed Bundy was likely not in Vermont at the time of Curran's death, but this fact remains unclear according to other accounts.
Bundy said he did not kill anyone in Vermont when questioned before his execution, according to a January 1989 Associated Press story. However, one news report from the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 1989 suggests that Bundy may have admitted to Curran's murder days before to another investigator. When the case was given a fresh look in 2019, Bundy was included again as a suspect, said Chenette in 2021.
Contact Urban Change Reporter Lilly St. Angelo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @lilly_st_ang.
This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Rita Curran cold case: Burlington police to make announcement