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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.”