Stow Police receive grant to help solve decades-old case of missing teen

A small, local police department is taking on a big case that has remained unsolved for decades. They received a grant to create a task force to find out what happened to a teen who disappeared with barely a trace.

Stow’s Police Chief, Michael Sallese, is always on a mission. But this new investigation has particular meaning.

He grew up in the small town of Stow, which is about 40 minutes west of Boston. It’s a town you don’t hear much about except when people mention apple orchards and golf courses.

“I just remember the parents having heightened awareness,” Chief Sallese said of the cold case.

Almost 40 years ago, 16-year-old Cathy Malcolmson disappeared. It was August of 1985. She was biking from her home in Stow to her job at a grocery store in Hudson. Malcolmson never arrived.

“There’s a lot of residents and a lot of people who still live here that knew her back then,” said Chief Sallese.

New task force created nearly 40 years after the disappearance of Catherine ‘Cathy’ Malcolmson

The Stow Police Department applied and just received a state grant to re-examine the cold case.

“We have a case. We really want to open it up. We want to bring closure and let’s apply for this grant. Let’s get some money for overtime and dedicate officers to work just directly on this,” Chief Sallese said. “Sometimes people have that ‘ah-ha’ moment that they remember something. You never know when someone is going to turn around and say, ‘Hey, I really remember this, or I was afraid to say this 30-40 years ago.”

Someone having an “ah-ha” moment would greatly help. One small box inside Stow Police headquarters contains the entire file on Malcolmson’s case. Hudson and State police also have files, not computerized, in boxes.

“[There’s] a lot of lack of evidence right now, so that would be a big challenge. Cathy was adopted so there’s no DNA evidence that we’re working on.” In all these years, investigators have only had one lead. Two years after Cathy disappeared, her bike was found off Route 62 in Hudson, about a mile from her house.

Investigators did question a previous suspect while he was on his deathbed in prison. He still denied everything. Cathy’s adoptive parents are now in their 80s and her mom has come to peace that Cathy is dead.

“We’re already getting leads. We’re already getting information in. It is already starting to work and people still care.” In Stow, the case of what happened to Cathy Malcolmson is very much alive. “We are going to follow this case to the end.”

The task force has an email tipsforcathy@stow-ma.gov

The tip line is 978-897-4545 ext. 1985.

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