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Search fails to find body of Manchester man missing for a half-century

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 24. 2013 9:13PM

An underground search earlier this month failed to detect the suspected resting place of a Manchester bookie believed murdered in 1963, ending nearly a decade of speculation that his killers buried his body beneath a brook in Bedford.

The search took place Oct. 4 and involved Maine Drilling and Blasting, which used a 2-inch diameter drill to probe a curve in Patten Brook, Bedford police said. More than 50 holes were drilled, some going as deep as 20 feet, said detective Sgt. Michael Monahan.

As of now, there are no leads about the disappearance of Alexander Tafralian, he said.

"This is Manchester's missing person case, but we'd want anyone to come forward and provide closure to the family," Monahan said. "Any closure that could be provided would be welcome."

Tafralian was a classically trained pianist, successful aluminium-siding salesman and bookie who disappeared June 10, 1963, when his wife and daughter were visiting family in California. He was last seen flashing a wad of cash in a Manchester social club.

Police have never been able to determine what happened to him, nor has his body ever been found.

In a commentary published today, Tafralian's daughter asks for anyone who knows about her father's death to come forward.

"There is someone who knows about his murder and where his remains are," writes Gloria Tafralian Wilson, who is 70 and lives in Oregon. "For the sake of decency and justice, I beg you to please come forward with information that will lead to locating my father and allow me to bury him next to my mom."

Wilson's hopes were ignited in 2004, when former Manchester police detective Omer Beaudoin theorized that Tafralian's killers had placed his body in the trunk of a car, buried the car in a Bedford field and diverted the Patten Brook over the grave.

The field is located upstream from where Patten Brook crosses Patten Drive in east Bedford.

Beaudoin lined up soil scientists and ground-penetrating radar operators to back his theory. But in early 2005, the landowner wouldn't allow the field to be dug up, fearing financial responsibility if environmental problems surfaced.

Monahan said police were able to skirt the environmental problems with use of the probe. He said Bedford police spent less than $2,000 to pay for the drilling work, which was done without a search warrant.

He said the bed of the brook and the embankments were probed along the suspicious S curve in the brook. He said ground penetrating radar had earlier determined that the land had been disturbed, but the probes found no metal.

"The site itself in question was a junkyard," Monahan said. "He (the former owner) could have been doing work in the area, diverted the stream and never brought it back."

He said Bedford police have no leads, and it remains a Manchester police case.

Manchester police said the case is open, but suspended. No one is working the case, but if something new surfaces, police would resume work on it, said Manchester police spokesman Lt. Maureen Tessier.

Wilson credits the persistence of former Bedford Police Chief David Bailey for getting the work done.

"He just kept it in the minds of the new chief and detective Sgt. Monahan," Wilson said. "He got them all on board."

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