In November of 1985, children enjoying the natural surrounds of Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire found a 200-litre steel drum in the woods.
They played with it, rolling it around on the ground, totally unaware of the horrors contained inside.
Luckily, the children weren’t the ones who would discover that. It was a deer hunter, a few days later, around the 10th of November who realised that the plastic bags stuffed inside the drums contained the remains of two people.
Dirty plastic covered the naked and partially dismembered bodies of a young woman and a small child, both of whom had died horrific and painful deaths. The woman was between 23 and 32 years old, the child between 5 and 11.
There was a major investigation into their deaths, but the case never really went anywhere. The bodies were so decomposed that it was difficult to determine exactly how they had died, and there seemed to be nobody missing them, or looking for them. Eventually, it went cold, relegated to a file room at a police station.
In 2000, it was assigned to a cold case investigator, who had authorities return to the scene of the drum to have a look around. Little did they know what that routine inspection would uncover.
Sergeant John Cody, from the New Hampshire State Police went for a walk in the pine trees at the scene. Just 90m from where the first drum was found, he found a second, identical drum. Lifting the lid, he uncovered the skeletal remains of two more small girls.
Investigators took DNA tests from the four victims and discovered that the older woman was related to both the youngest and oldest of the girls. Their exact relationship though, is impossible to determine, and although helpful, the breakthrough left them with more questions than answers.
In 2013, 3D facial reconstructions of the victims were released in a hope that someone, somewhere would be able to identify them, but despite being extensively shown, there isn’t anyone looking.
New Hampshire State Police Sergeant Joe Ebert, on the 30th anniversary of the bodies being found, said he couldn’t understand how they still couldn’t have uncovered who the victims were.
“I find it bizarre, maybe, but disturbing, I guess, is a better way to describe my feelings,” he said. “Here are four individuals, who disappeared from whatever family nucleus they were in, and we haven’t come to an understanding of who they are, or identified somebody who is looking for them.”
Also confusing is the fact that the girls may well have been an entire family, wiped out, and that such a crime might well have done unreported. But, there is hope on the horizon.
Law enforcement agencies have recently met in relation to the case, looking over new forensic data that might uncover where the victims lived. So far, the going theory is that the victims might have been from a very poor background, living in a non-traditional family setting, not regularly going to school and not living in a normal home. It’s not much, but it’s something.
And Sergeant Joe Ebert still holds out hope.
“It’s an awful tragedy to lose a person to a homicide. It is terrible miscarriage of justice not to know who carried out the crime against your loved one.”
However in August 2017, police revealed who might be responsible for the murders. A man named Robert Evans, who was the father of one of the children not related to the other children. Authorities found out his real name was Terry Peder Rasmussen, originally from Colorado.
Rasmussen was convicted for the murder of a woman whom he claimed was his wife, Eunsoon Jun, but he died of natural causes in 2010 while serving out his sentence.
The state attorney general’s office also believes that Rasmussen may be a suspect for the disappearance and perhaps murder of a Manchester woman, Denise Beaudin, in 1981.
Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said that Rasmussen spent some time in New Hampshire in the late 1970s, working at Waumbec Mills in Manchester, and lived in other parts of the US — in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon and Virginia.
Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin has said that Rasmussen has the perfect profile of a serial killer. “This has been a cooperative venture with a lot of agencies involved,” he said. “Because he left victims from one end of the country to the other, a lot of people have been working together on this and continue to work together, and we very much appreciate that.”
Gordon said that authorities are still investigating Rasmussen’s whereabouts between 1974 and the time he arrived in New Hampshire in the late 1970s posing as Bob Evans. He hopes that information will lead them to eventually identify the woman and the children.