Help sought in solving deaths of women

New Britain, Conn., police released reconstructions of what a slain mother (left) and daughter might have looked like, along with Diane Cusack’s photo, to try to generate clues in the case. New Britain, Conn., police released reconstructions of what a slain mother (left) and daughter might have looked like, along with Diane Cusack’s photo, to try to generate clues in the case.
By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / January 20, 2011

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Law enforcement officials in Massachusetts and Connecticut who are investigating the suspicious deaths of five women have identified one of them and are asking the public’s help in naming the other four, including a presumed mother and daughter who were found dead in the fall of 1995.

The remains of the mother were found in Tolland, Mass., in October 1995. She was found at the entrance to a campground at Tolland State Forest, said Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio.

He said the woman believed to be her daughter was found in September 1995, wrapped in two sleeping bags on a strip of pavement between a New Britain, Conn., shopping plaza and a wooded area. Both women had been shot in the head, authorities said.

Authorities are also investigating the deaths of three other women whose bodies were found behind the same New Britain shopping plaza in August 2007. Officials said that there are no suspects in the five deaths and that they are linked only by the proximity of the remains at the plaza and the DNA match.

Also yesterday, authorities identified one of the other three women whose remains were found behind the plaza on Hartford Road in 2007. Police identified the woman as Diane Cusack, who was in her early 50s and whose last known address was in New Britain.

A message left at a number listed for a relative of Cusack in New Britain was not returned yesterday.

Procopio said investigators are “just about 100 percent certain’’ that the two women found in 1995 were biologically related and that the DNA evidence and their respective ages also suggests a mother-daughter relationship.

“No one has come forward to say, ‘My family has been missing two people since 1995,’ ’’ he said. “We still hold out hope that that will happen.’’

Authorities released a sketch and a photo illustration yesterday that attempt to reconstruct what the mother and daughter looked like. The mother’s sketch shows her with wavy, neck-length hair. The daughter’s illustration shows her with curly black hair, a light complexion, and dark eyes.

Procopio said the older woman, who could be between 30 and 45, was probably killed in the area where she was found in Tolland, but it is unclear where her daughter, believed to be between 17 and 20, was shot. He said investigators have not been able to determine their races. Procopio said forensic evidence and items found on the older woman suggested that they both lived for a time in Albany, N.Y.

The older woman stood between 5 feet 2 and 5 feet 5 and weighed about 120 to 130 pounds, Procopio said. She also had partial upper and lower dentures and at the time of her death, she wore glasses, size 7 1/2 dark-colored Passport shoes, size 8p Bill Blass jeans, and a Trends brand pullover sweatshirt with a red and black pattern, according to Procopio. She was also wearing four rings, a gold-colored Sergio Valente wristwatch, and drop pendant earrings, he said.

The remains of the other two women found in 2007 have not been identified. New Britain Police Lieutenant James Wardwell would only say their deaths were suspicious when asked how they were killed.

Travis Andersen can be reached at