Story By Robert Muldoon and John Murray

The Connecticut State Police has stonewalled a
n investigation by The Waterbury Observer into six cold case murders going back to 1988. Despite a total breakdown in communication with victims’ families, and a cold case website that is rife with errors, the Connecticut State Police have refused to provide the Observer with copies of their polic
e reports citing “ongoing investigations.”

Phone calls aren’t returned, meetings with family members have been abruptly cancelled, and several families have openly questioned whether the Connecticut State Police has compassion for the victims, several who were convicted sex workers.

Herman “Jay” Johnson’s mother-in-law, Mildred Alvarado, was murdered in 1989 and her body discovered in the Campville section of Harwinton. Jay and his wife Tanya have been seeking answers for three decades.

“We are told that active cases take precedent,” Jay said, “and we have to stay patient.”

After continued efforts, Jay finally succeeded in setting up a meeting in Litchfield at the Western District headquarters. He prepared to leave duty in Virginia and attend. But suddenly it was cancelled. That was more than a decade ago.

“Because she’s labeled these words (addict and prostitute), it’s like they don’t care,” he said, in frustration. “She has a loving family who are still traumatized by this over 30 years later. For as long as I can remember, we have been trying to assist the Connecticut State Police with trying to solve this murder. There are four kids seeking justice. No one is reaching out to them. This was a young mother, with four children, who was murdered.”

Tanya and Jay Johnson are still seeking justice for Mildred Alvarado.

A cursory check of the State Police “Cold Case” web page—where the Karen Everett and Millie Alvarado murders are lumped together—reveals no photograph of either Karen or Mildred on the website of the Western District Major Crime Unit. It’s a small omission, perhaps, but seems to highlight a larger problem. No one seems to care.

In November 2008, State Police Lt. William Baldwin was the head of Western District Major Crime Squad and spoke to the Republican-American newspaper about the Campville murders. Baldwin said his detectives had questioned dozens of people about the Everett and Alvarado slayings since 1988, and they would not give up on the investigations.

“I think people can forget that these victims have loved ones and families,” Baldwin said. “Our unit isn’t letting this thing sit on a shelf … We’re always revisiting it; hopefully someday we’ll be successful.”

To Tanya and Jay Johnson those words don’t match their experience dealing with the Connecticut State Police, who at a minimum, have a communication problem dealing with victim’s families.

The Observer filed a Freedom of Information request with the Connecticut State Police in January 2022 to obtain records of the Campville murders, but the system is backlogged, and the newspaper was told it might take until August or September 2022 to get the paperwork.

When the Observer called the Connecticut Office of Public Safety in August for an update, the clerk was unable to locate the FOI request using the record number they provided the newspaper. No record was found under The Waterbury Observer or under the names of John Murray or Robert Muldoon.

The newspaper was instructed to call back with the number on the business check we paid for the FOI request. When we did, the Observer was told that, “Western District Major Crime has leads on these cases that are being investigated and as such, these remain open investigations not subject to disclosure at this time.”

The Observer has filed an appeal with the Freedom of Information Commission, which by state law, should be answered within 60 days. We specifically want to see if the cases have been revisited using DNA technology, which was not in existence in the late 1980s.

The Observer’s FOI requests to the Waterbury Police Department stands in stark contrast to the seven months delay, and ultimate denial, by Connecticut State Police (CSP) Western District Major Crime. In March, we filed a FOI request with WPD, and in days, crime reports began pouring in. In weeks, we received 295 pages (with DNA results) and 274 crime photos. The reports cover eight murders and suspicious deaths, from 1988 to 2021, all occurring within Waterbury city limits.

The Observer requested CSP records on six Campville murders, many explicitly listed as “cold” (not open) on the Western District Major Crime Squad web page.

Western District Major Crime has jurisdiction over these six cases, because the bodies were discovered in or near Campville, a desolate section of Harwinton, frequented by hunters, on the steep and wooded banks of the Naugatuck River, just off Route 8. A body’s location establishes the crime scene, and, more important, who has investigational jurisdiction—no matter where the victim lived or disappeared from.

And so, although all six women were Waterbury residents, and were most likely picked up there, the murders are being investigated by the Western District Major Crime Squad in Litchfield, who assist small forces like Harwinton with major crimes requiring resources and manpower. Waterbury, with its own urban force, requires little outside help when a body is recovered within city limits.

The FOI requests and yields have been a case of “good cop, bad cop.” Following FOI laws, the WPD provided access and transparency; while CSP dithered, delayed and denied. The different results (295 pages granted, versus 0) speak to a Charles Dicken’s tale of two jurisdictions: the best of, and the worst of.

Waterbury Police Chief Fred Spagnolo, left, and Captain Mike Ponzillo, the head of the Detective Bureau, have fully cooperated with The Waterbury Observer.

Connecticut FOI laws guarantee public access to public records. The laws are clear and unequivocal, with few exemptions: “An agency is required to provide ‘prompt’ access to public records.” Yet somehow the CSP claims that cases going back five decades (the 1980s), listed even as “cold cases” on their site, are active investigations, exempt from disclosure—and thus denying the public the chance to help solve them.

Since January, the Observer has written 17 stories on unsolved murders of Waterbury women, many with prior drug and prostitution arrests. We have interviewed victims’ friends and families, Waterbury Police, Connecticut State Police, and Mayor Neil O’Leary. We have conducted background checks, newspaper and public records searches. State Police reports are an essential piece of the newspaper’s ongoing investigation.

A WPD spokesman once explained the importance of releasing sensitive information to the public after Jessica Muskus’ body was found in Campville in 2006, two years after her disappearance: “It’s no secret we solve crimes through support from the media.” Releasing investigation details may explain the context of a crime and can “jar loose” information from people who may know something, police explained.

Indeed, since January, the Observer has received five anonymous tips with substantial inside information on two unsolved murders (Karen Everett in 1988, and Elizabeth Grzywacz in 2002). These tips have yielded two suspect names: and details heretofore unknown to police.

The tips were immediately forwarded to WPD (and by extension CSP). For our part, the Observer follows up on all tips received—with exhaustive public records searches to confirm key details.

Tipsters offered two suspects in two cold cases. The names, in fact, match two police suspects in the 2002 WPD investigation of the Grzywacz cold case.

Moreover, one tip linked a WPD police suspect in the 2002 Grzywacz murder to an earlier 1988 murder, of Karen Everett, currently in CSP jurisdiction, the first in this grisly string of over a dozen unsolved murders.

In denying the Observer’s FOI requests, the CSP effectively slams the door shut on potential tips that may be “jarred loose” when the public is kept informed.

Unfortunately, the CSP has a history of not effectively following up on tips from the public. On January 6, 1993, after Evelyn Bettancourt’s body was found in Campville, the third at that time, police received a tip months later on August 23. A friend of Michael Curry, 24, of Thomaston, said Curry described the slaying in detail to him, how he shot the pregnant woman 4 times in the head, as she pleaded for her life, then dumped the body in Campville.

State Police interviewed Curry at his father’s home, and “no significant information was developed from this interview.” He was not arrested.

But over a year later, Curry, who was in jail for arson, confessed to a cellmate. The jailhouse “snitch” alerted police and Curry was arrested. He is currently serving 45 years for kidnapping and capital felony murder.

Below are the requested CSP records on the six Campville murders, many explicitly listed as “cold” (not open) on the Western District Major Crime Squad web page. The Connecticut State Police have denied all of the following FOI requests:

1) KAREN EVERETT (“Brandy”) – age 25

Date: 10/16/88

Location: Valley Rd Harwinton–down 40 feet slope by Naugatuck River

Victim Found By: 2 Deer Hunters

Manner of Death: Strangled

Crime Scene Evidence: Light-gray tank top (victim partially clad)



Last Known Person Seen: Alan Lane (aka Angelo Magaraci), Employer and Landlord

Last Seen: Lane Financial, 2040 North Main Street, where Everett worked and lived on second floor

Prior Arrests: Drug Possession, Breach of Peace, Violation of Probation

STATUS: Cold Case – Western District Major Crime


Date: 1/19/89

Location: Valley Rd Harwinton—down steep ravine by Naugatuck River

Victim Found By: Anonymous Caller (police tracked down)

Manner of Death: Strangled

Crime Scene Evidence: Clothed but missing shoes



Last Known Home Address: 45 Long Hill Road

Prior Arrests: Prostitution, Failure to Appear

STATUS: Cold Case – Western District Major Crime


Date: 12/9/94

Location: Route 8 Harwinton—a mile south of Exit 42

Victim Found By: Albert S. Boyson, age 77, van driver for Kelley Transit was driving

Manner of Death: Run Over (pushed/fell from van)

Crime Scene Evidence: Kelley Transit Van and Clothing



Last Known Person Seen: Albert S. Boyson

Last Seen: MacDonalds on Thomaston Avenue, Boyson picked her up

Last Known Home Address: 498 West Main St

Prior Arrests: Prostitution

STATUS: Closed – Western District Major Crime

Note: Boyson was not charged


Disappeared: July 2004 leaving home (27 Bunker Hill Ave)

Date Found: 11/14/2006

Location: Campville – Exit 41 – wooded area 300 yds from Valley Rd

Victim Found By: Hunter

Crime Scene Evidence: Clothing and Duct Tape



Last Known Home Address: 27 Bunker Hill Ave

STATUS: Cold Case – Western District Major Crime


Date Found: 11/01/94

Location: Rte 262- Waterbury Rd in Thomaston – 8 miles south of Campville

Crime Scene Evidence: Mutilated Breast


Prior Arrests: No history

STATUS: Cold Case – Western District Major Crime


Date Found: 1/6/93

Location: Valley Rd Harwinton—bank of Naugatuck River (500 feet from bodies of Everett and Alvarado)

Crime Scene Evidence: Victim pregnant; naked from waist down

Manner of Death: Shot 4 times

Last Seen: Willow Street (picked up by Michael Curry, 24)

Last Known Home Address: 52 Burton

Prior Arrests: Prostitution (twice), Disorderly Conduct

Crime Solved: using Jailhouse “Snitch” in 1995– a copycat killing

Arrested: Michael Curry, 26, Thomaston, bragged in cell in 1995

Prison Sentence: 45 years

STATUS: Solved – Western District Major Crime

Below are the WPD cases where the Observer has received police reports and photos following a FOI request:


Date Found: 2/19/90

Location: Naugatuck River near Bank Street

Victim Found By: Worker from Anaconda-America Brass Co on lunch

Crime Scene Evidence: Gray Sweatshirt, green undershirt, jeans and socks, Avon ring (chrome color, with 3 ball type stones in setting). NO SHOES

Manner of Death: Medical Examiner ruled an overdose

STATUS: Closed – Waterbury Police


Date Found: 11/25/92

Location: near railroad tracks on Chase River Rd Waterbury

Victim Found By: Vagrant collecting cans

Manner of Death: Stabbed 18 times

Crime Scene Evidence: Purple sweatpants and black sneakers with ornate laces

Identifying Characteristics: Tattoo of Cross on sternum (Markiewicz was Catholic)

STATUS: Cold Case – Waterbury Police


Date Found: 8/99

Location: partially clothed by RR Tracks in Waterbury

Manner of Death: Chief Medical Examiner ruled an overdose

STATUS: Closed – Waterbury Police

4) BERNADINE PAUL (Missing Person) – Age 37

Date Missing: 6/7/00

Location: Bradlees Parking lot (Chase Ave)

STATUS: Cold Case – Waterbury Police


Date Found: 10/7/2002

Location: 69 Linden Street, home of Lane Financial, where Grzywacz lived in a one-story, office annex (converted to a bedroom) in exchange for janitorial duties

Manner of Death: bludgeoned (victim naked)

Victim Found By: Alan Lane (aka Angelo Magaraci), Employer and Landlord

STATUS: Cold Case – Waterbury Police


Disappeared on: 7/2004 after leaving home on 27 Bunker Hill Avenue

Date Found: 11/14/2006 (Campville Exit Rte 8/ 300 yds from Valley Rd)

Victim Found By: Hunter

Crime Scene Evidence: Clothing and Duct Tape

STATUS: Cold Case – Western District Major Crime Squad


Date Found: 5/27/2007

Location: Train Tracks – Thomaston AVE

Manner of Death: Chief Medical Examiner ruled an overdose

STATUS: Closed – Waterbury Police

8) BRIANNA BEAM – age 20

Date Found: 12/19/2021

Location: Harwinton – 100 feet off Campville Rd

Date Identified: 2/3/22 Identified

STATUS: Active Case – Western District Major Crime Squad

Footnote: Two cases (Muskus and Beam) for which the Observer has received WPD reports are currently under CSP jurisdiction. But both began as WPD missing person cases, before the bodies were recovered in Campville, then becoming Western District Major Crime jurisdictional investigations.

Nonetheless, following FOI laws, the WPD released the initial missing person investigations on both Muskus and Beam. Moreover, Bristol Police similarly released a 2021 domestic assault incident report charging Beam’s fiancé, months before her remains were found in Campville. Alas, only CSP Western District Major Crime has refused to release FOI information to the Observer, claiming “active investigations” in all six cases dating from 1988.

Below is the timeline for FOI requests to the Connecticut State Police that, after seven months, have been denied:

On January 31, the Observer sent a $112 check to Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection (DESPP) and requested FOI state police records on seven cases, dating from 1988 to 2006, involving Waterbury women whose bodies were dumped in Campville. The check ($16 per case) was cashed immediately, and a File No. F-21-05355 was established.

Since January 31, the Observer has made repeated email and phone contacts to track the status of the paid FOI request.

On August 8, 6 months later, the Observer again emailed the Legal Affairs Unit (of DESPP). We were informed that on receipt of our January payment, Legal Affairs had in fact requested all of the reports from their “Reports and Records Unit.” We were advised that a backlog existed and, due to “age of the files”, the request may take longer than others. The Observer was assured that our “request is being processed.”

Growing concerned, next day, we called “Reports and Records” with File No F-21-05355, and were informed there was no record of our request. We further gave our requester name (Waterbury Observer), and were told there was no request under that name. Finally, we were told a “check #” was needed to track the status of the request.

Armed with the check information (bank name, account #, routing #, sequence #), we once again called “Reports and Records.” Once again, we were told that the request could not be located, seven months after our check was cashed and a file number created.

On August 23, we emailed Legal Affairs again. Again, we were assured that Reports and Records were working on our request—despite our direct phone calls to that unit, and being told flatly the request could not be located.

After being pressed, Legal Affairs unexpectedly went on to state this: “there are leads on these cases that are being investigated and as such, these remain open investigations not subject to disclosure at this time.”

After months of status inquiry, this was the first time the Observer had received such information of a denial, contradicting previous assurances from Legal Affairs that the cases were being worked on, but there was a backlog. Suddenly now, after aggressive inquiries to Reports and Records, Legal Affairs informed us our requests are exempt from disclosure, but may be available in the future:

“We will continue to hold your request on file and will forward the report(s) as soon as it becomes available and its public discloseability has been determined.”

The Observer is currently awaiting a hearing on our appeal with the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission. •