Killer Identified By DNA In 1969 Cambridge Murder of Jane Britton

Michael Sumpter

by Michael John Scott

Nearly fifty years after the brutal murder of a Harvard University graduate student, law enforcement officials said Tuesday they’ve identified her killer using DNA technology.  In addition, law enforcement used a partial print at the scene and the website Ancestry.com, which traces DNA and family history, and enabled investigators to locate Sumpter’s brother, who provided a DNA sample.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said Michael Sumpter raped and bludgeoned 23-year-old Harvard graduate student Jane Britton in her Cambridge apartment on Jan. 7, 1969.

For nearly half a century, the case went unsolved, but on Tuesday, officials announced Britton’s killer had been identified thanks to DNA evidence: convicted rapist Michael Sumpter, who died of cancer in 2001 at age 54, 13 months after he was paroled to hospice care, WCVB reports.

He had been serving a prison sentence for a 1975 rape at the time of his death. After his death, authorities started linking him to other assaults in the same area during the same time period.

Sumpter had already been posthumously found responsible for a 1973 murder and rape of a 24-year-old and the 1972 murder and rape of a 23-year-old; he is also believed to have committed a rape in 1985 when he escaped from a work-release program.

“A half-century of mystery and speculation has clouded the brutal crime that shattered Jane’s promising young life and our family.

The DNA evidence ‘match’ may be all we ever have as a conclusion,” Britton’s brother, the Rev. Boyd Britton, said in a statement. “Learning to understand and forgive remains a challenge.”

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted by on November 21, 2018. Filed under NEWS I FIND INTERESTING. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
Back to Main Page

3 Responses to Killer Identified By DNA In 1969 Cambridge Murder of Jane Britton

  1. Bill Formby Reply

    November 21, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Well, I am as yet not convinced that this new use of DNA and Ancestry.com technique is as accurate as they claim it to be. I watched a special report on this and there are way too many assumptions made about what was actually accurate DNA results and what may not have been accurate. It would one thing if they had absolute proof of a nice straight line of ancestry but that is only speculation when they run these things down. In this case the accused is already dead after dying in prison so, no harm no foul. But, hear me now, we will have exceptions which will bring this into question. They are taking one of the few actual scientific means of identifying offenders and bastardizing it. It will join fingerprints as speculated evidence.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      November 21, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      I don’t see DNA or fingerprinting as “speculated” evidence old friend. On the contrary, both have passed court tests and are considered scientific and accurate. Naturally, evidence gathering is critical.

  2. Glenn Geist Reply

    November 25, 2018 at 8:56 am

    There’s a difference between those DNA tests you buy and the stuff they do to identify individuals. It really is extremely accurate. Yes, I suppose it’s possible to find identical fingerprints and perhaps identifying someone from a small portion of one fingerprint creates the possibility of error, but science isn’t about proof, but about probabilities. With DNA I think the probabilities are usually 99 and many many tenths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.