Murder of Hartland woman’s sister finally solved after 50 years

Also, trucks drilled, drained of fuel

For more than 51 years, Mary Curran Campbell of Hartland had often wondered if the killer of her sister would ever be identified in one of Vermont’s most puzzling and troubling homicides. Campbell finally got her wish Tuesday when Burlington Police publicly announced that William R. DeRoos had beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled his downstairs neighbor in her bedroom on Brookes Avenue the night of July 19, 1971, the Vermont Standard reports.

Rita Curran

Rita Curran, 24, the oldest of three children in a well-known Milton family, had been living for the summer at an apartment in Burlington when she was attacked and killed. DeRoos was 31 years-old and had been married for two weeks when he had a fight with his new wife the night of July 19, 1971 and left their third-floor apartment at 15 Brookes Avenue for a “cooldown walk,” according to Burlington Police.

Instead, DeRoos killed Curran, a second-grade teacher at Milton Elementary, in her first-floor bedroom at 17 Brookes Avenue, which was part of the same three-story converted Victorian house, police said. Minutes later DeRoos returned to his third-floor apartment with no known scrapes or wounds and went to bed with his wife, police said. DeRoos lied — and he got his wife to lie — that they had been home all night and that they had heard nothing unusual, police said. But new advanced DNA test results don’t lie and Tuesday, DeRoos was identified during a Burlington Police news conference as Curran’s long-sought killer. 

The Vermont Standard is Vermont’s oldest community newspaper, serving towns in Windsor County and elsewhere in Eastern Vermont. Subscribe free to their daily newsletter.

Truck fuel stolen – Vandalism and theft struck a local car dealership last weekend. According to Vermont State Police, three trucks parked on the lot of Wells River Chevrolet were drilled and drained of fuel, today’s Journal-Opinion free newsletter reports.

A news release states a similar incident happened in Woodsville. “We are trying to track down details of that occurrence, so if anybody has any information please let us know,” reports the JO, community newspaper for Bradford and communities on both sides of the Connecticut River.

Meanwhile, authorities in New Hampshire are investigating a whole other level of vandalism after swastikas and other messages appeared on properties, including a synagogue, in Portsmouth.

“This type of hateful and threatening criminal activity, motivated by racial or religious intolerance, particularly at places of worship, has no place in New Hampshire and will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General John M. Formella in a statement.

Categories: Crime

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