Investigators crack 50-year-old cold case

BEDFORD – Exhaustive lab work, DNA testing, a crucial legal victory and a boatload of persistence by teams of researchers and investigators who at one time or another worked the 1971 Bedford murder cold case have finally paid off.

On Monday, authorities announced that one of the two remaining unknowns in the 51-year-old case — the identity of the victim — has been solved, and now they will be turning their attention to following up leads and clues in hopes of solving the one remaining unknown: Who killed Katherine Ann “Kathy” Alston, the Boston woman whose body was discovered in heavy brush along an old logging road off Kilton Road in Bedford on Oct. 6, 1971.

Alston, whose body was found by an unidentified hunter, was in her mid-20s at the time, and according to forensic analysis her body had been there for one to three months before being discovered.

Fifty years worth of advances in the science of forensic analysis, coupled with the work of the DNA Doe Project, an all-volunteer, California-based nonprofit founded in 2017 with a mission to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families, were key factors in the decades-long search for Alston’s identity, Attorney General John Formella said Monday.

Beginning in 2020, “investigators were able to utilize forensic testing and assistance from genetic genealogists at the DNA Doe Project to positively identify this young woman,” Formella said.

“Today’s announcement by our Cold Case Unit is very important and I am proud of their difficult and very diligent work … we are determined to stay on this case and will work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to follow any leads that may help us determine who might be responsible for Ms. Alston’s death,” Formella added.

A full story, including many additional details on the case and directions on how to contact authorities with any information that may assist them in their search for Alston’s killer, will appear in this weekend’s edition of The Sunday Telegraph.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.