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Mass. man serving life now charged in '92 killing

By Denise Lavoie
AP Legal Affairs Writer / December 21, 2011
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BOSTON—A man already serving a life sentence for murder was charged Wednesday in the 1992 killing of a woman who was stabbed 17 times.

Craig Conkey was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 31-year-old Kathleen Dempsey, who was found dead in her Lexington apartment on Aug. 23, 1992.

Conkey, 45, was twice convicted of first-degree murder for killing another Lexington woman, 49-year-old Mary Lou Sale, two years after Dempsey was killed. Those convictions were both overturned by the state Supreme Judicial Court.

The high court overturned his first conviction on the grounds that his refusal to be fingerprinted should not have been used against him. The court found that his lawyer should have been allowed to present more evidence at his second trial that someone else may have killed Sale.

In 2009, Conkey pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed robbery in Sale's death. He was sentenced to life in prison.

During a news conference, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said Conkey recently made statements implicating himself in Dempsey's murder.

Leone said investigators believe Conkey broke into Dempsey's apartment while she was sleeping, startled her, then attacked her.

Dempsey called for help after she was stabbed, but her call was dismissed as a prank by a fire dispatcher and ignored for five hours until a co-worker listened to a tape of the call. By the time emergency crews arrived at her house, Dempsey was dead.

Dempsey's mother, Evelyn Tobin, said her family is relieved that Conkey has been charged.

"We've never really lost hope. We've certainly had our ups and downs, but my daughter was a great believer in justice, and she's finally going to get it," Tobin said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Dempsey, who grew up in Newton, was a freelance graphic artist. At the time of her death, she was planning to go back to school to get a teaching degree, Tobin said.

Lexington police Chief Mark Corr said Dempsey's killing shocked residents in Lexington, an upscale suburb about 10 miles northwest of Boston.

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