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Home » News » Crime

July 23. 2013 8:44PM

Mass. convict charged in 1991 Plymouth State killing


THERESA REED ...killed in 1991 

State prosecutors announced Tuesday that a Massachusetts convict will face charges in the 1991 murder of Plymouth State University official Theresa Reed, whose brutal murder shocked the quiet college town of Plymouth.

On Friday, a Grafton County grand jury returned two murder indictments against Craig Conkey, who is already behind bars in Massachusetts for two murders, one that he admitted to last year. He had been a suspect in the Reed murder for at least 17 years, according to past newspaper accounts.

The murder plunged the town of Plymouth into mourning for a native who grew up in town, attended Plymouth State, which was a college at the time, and enjoyed her college and her coworkers, said Richard Hage, a retired dean and vice president at PSU.

"It was absolutely shocking," Hage said of the murder. "You couldn't ask for a better person than Tess. She was the salt of the earth."

Hage said he still sees Reed's father in town; her brother, Theron Reed, works at the college as a carpenter.

Reed was 30 and an assistant registrar at the college, according to previous media reports. She lived in an apartment at 52 Highland St. When she didn't show up for work, Reed's co-workers started looking for her.

She was found dead from multiple stab wounds on Sept. 6, 1991.

Homicide prosecutors said the New Hampshire State Police Cold Case Unit reopened the case in 2012.

"After the case was reopened in 2012, we obtained enough evidence to allow the charges to be brought," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin, who said he could not be more specific.

Conkey is charged with alternative counts of first-degree murder, which alleges the murder took place during a burglary, and reckless second-degree murder.

According to New England Cable News, Conkey appeared in a Massachusetts courtroom in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to the 1992 stabbing death of a Lexington, Mass., woman.

He was already serving a life sentence for the 1994 murder of another Lexington woman.

Prosecutors said Conkey changed his plea to guilty because he believed the Mayan apocalypse was coming at year's end, the television station said.

Strelzin said he could not say whether Conkey confessed to Reed's murder because court rules prevent prosecutors from discussing suspect-police conversations outside of a courtroom.

Hage said he hopes the arrest will bring closure to the Reed family. As the years passed and new faculty and staff join Plymouth State, her death has faded, Hage said.

But not for people who worked at the college or lived in the town at the time of the murder.

"We know her brother and see him on a daily basis," Hage said. "We know the family. We pass by the house where it occurred. It's part of our past. Those of us who went through it, this is a bit of hopeful relief."

mhayward@unionleader.com


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