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Plymouth murder victim's family relieved about indictment in 1991 homicide

Union Leader Correspondent

July 25. 2013 9:39PM

PLYMOUTH — The family of Theresa Reed is pleased, if cautious, about news that a man has been indicted in her 1991 murder.

Reed, 30, an assistant registrar at the Plymouth State University, was found dead of multiple stab wounds on Sept. 6, 1991. Her murder case had gone unsolved, though the New Hampshire State Police Cold Case Unit reopened the case in 2012.

On Friday, a Grafton County grand jury returned two murder indictments against Craig Conkey, 42, who is jailed in Massachusetts for two murders, one that he admitted to last year. He had reportedly been a suspect in Reed’s murder for at least 17 years.

Reed’s father, Joseph Reed of Rumney, would only speak briefly of the arrest.

“I would like to wait until the investigation progresses further before saying anything,” he said.

Veralisa Reed of Rumney, the wife of one of Reed’s cousins, said the family is relieved.

“We heard that they may have arrested the person, and I know my husband and the family are very happy about that if it’s true,” Reed said. “We don’t know all the details, but it would be nice to bring some closure.”

Reed, who was known as “Tess” to her friends, lived in an apartment at 52 Highland St. When she didn’t show up for work, Reed’s coworkers started looking for her, and police found her dead in her apartment.

Reed was well-liked by her friends and coworkers, including Reine Fischler, an art professor at PSU, who remembers her as “an outgoing free spirit.”

“I loved her dearly, everyone here did,” Fischler said. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard she was gone, it shouldn’t have happened. We were all devastated. I’m glad to hear they’ve made some progress (in the case).”

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

He is serving a life sentence for the brutal 1992 murder of Mary Lou Sale of Lexington, Mass. Conkey, who was 28 at the time of Sale’s murder, has been in prison ever since he was arrested in 1994.

According to published reports, police found Sale lying dead in the bedroom of her home on Dec. 6, 1994, after her co-workers contacted police. Sale had been bludgeoned with a heavy object and strangled by a nylon stocking, with her pajama top bundled up under her arms, and her pants removed, police said.

Sale, an accountant, had moved from California to Massachusetts to be closer to her daughter.

Last summer, Conkey also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing of Kathleen Dempsey in Lexington, Mass. According to prosecutors, Conkey stabbed Dempsey 17 times.

Conkey, during his taped confession, told authorities that he feared Armageddon was imminent and that he wanted to clear his conscience of Dempsey’s murder because he did not want to go to hell, according to published reports.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery 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. He said the reopening of the cold case brought enough evidence to charge Conkey with Reed’s murder.

Crime, law and justice Plymouth

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