The Bear Brook murders, also referred to as the Allenstown Four, comprise four unidentified murder victims discovered in 1985 and 2000 at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, New Hampshire. This case has never been solved. All of the victims were either partially or completely skeletonized when they were found and are believed to have died between 1977 and 1985. The victims’ faces have been reconstructed multiple times, most recently by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Discovery of the bodies
The body of a woman between the ages of 23 and 33 was found, together with the body of a girl, by a hunter on November 10, 1985. The bodies had been wrapped in plastic (possibly a garbage bag) and were hidden in a 55-gallon metal drum. They were close to a store that had previously been destroyed by fire. The cause of death was determined, for both bodies, to be blunt trauma. These two victims were later buried in the same grave.
On May 9, 2000, two more dead girls were found. Their bodies were dated to the same time as when the first two victims were found (about 300 feet away). The bodies were also concealed in the same way. The cause of death for the two girls found in 2000 has not been determined.
The woman was possibly a mix of white and Native American heritage. She had curly or wavy brown hair and was between 5 feet 2 and 5 feet 7 inches tall. She had received a significant amount of dental work on her teeth, having had multiple fillings and three tooth extractions.
After their teeth were examined, the three girls were said to be of possible Native American heritage, though white in complexion.
The girl who was found with the adult woman was between 5 and 11 years old and was the oldest of the three children. The other two girls were between 2 and 4 years old and 1 and 3 years old, respectively.
The oldest girl had symptoms of pneumonia in her lungs. She had a crooked front tooth, wore earrings in each ear, and was between 4 feet 3 and 4 feet 6 inches tall. Her hair was wavy and light brown and, unlike the adult woman, she had no dental fillings. She had a gap in her front teeth.
The second youngest girl also had a gap in her front teeth. She was not maternally related to any of the other victims but may have been paternally related, possibly being a half-sister to the other two girls. She had brown hair and was about 3 feet 8 inches tall. She had an overbite, which was probably noticeable.
The youngest girl had long blond or light brown hair, was between 2 feet 1 and 2 feet 6 inches tall, and also had a gap in her front teeth.
In the early days of the investigation, authorities publicized the case in the media in the United States and some parts of Canada. At least ten possible identities for the victims have been ruled out. Hundreds of leads have been followed but have not resulted in identification of the killer or the victims.
In June 2013, new versions of the victims’ facial reconstructions were created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These versions incorporated their dental information, showing how their teeth could have affected the appearance of their faces. The reconstructions were created in black and white, as their skin tones and eye colors could not be determined.
In November 2015, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released a third set of reconstructions of the four victims at a news conference at the New Hampshire State Attorney General’s office.New information revealed that the 22- to 33-year-old woman was likely the mother of the 2- to 3-year-old girl and of the 9- to 10-year-old girl. Also, she and the three children had resided together in the Northeastern United States between two weeks and three months before their deaths. It was concluded that the woman and two of children (who investigators believe were her daughters) resided in the area where their bodies were found. The third girl, however, likely came from the Dakotas or Nebraska, based upon testing of their hair, teeth, and bones.
The victims whose bodies were found in 1985 had suffered blunt-force trauma. Investigators have yet to release a cause of death for the two girls found in 2000.
In early 2013, it was reported that $30,000 had been raised in order to examine the DNA from each of the bodies.
DNA profiling showed that the woman and at least two of the three children were related maternally. She could have been the mother, aunt, or older sister of the youngest and oldest children.