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The bodies of a mother and her 4-year-old daughter were found in the woods in 1973. The killings have never been solved.

On June 6, 1973, the bodies of 32-year-old Maureen Moynihan (right) and her 4-year-old daughter Jennifer (left) were found in a wooded area off Route 122A in Rutland.Worcester County District Attorney's Office

On June 5, 1973, Maureen Moynihan, 32, took her 4-year-old daughter, Jennifer, out to run a couple of errands. They never returned.

Her husband, a math teacher for the West Boylston public schools, reported his wife and daughter missing that evening when they didn’t come home. Police went to their house on Nancy Road in Rutland, a small town in central Massachusetts, and began a search of the area. They called relatives in Worcester, hoping someone had seen them.

Gerald Moynihan told investigators that his wife had planned to drop off their 6-year-old son to kindergarten in West Boylston and then go shopping at Mammoth Mart, a discount department store in Worcester, the Globe reported at the time.


After Moynihan dropped her son off at his afternoon kindergarten class, she stopped at a hardware store on Route 122A in Holden around 1 p.m., according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Those were the last times she was seen alive.

Shortly after noon the next day, two young men driving along a dirt road off Route 122A in Rutland made a horrific discovery. There, in a wooded section of Rutland State Park, they found Moynihan’s dark blue 1969 Ford sedan. Her body was outside the car, and her daughter’s was in the front seat. They had been stabbed to death.

Moynihan’s handbag was found intact, and State Police ruled out robbery as a motive. Her car was found just a few miles from their home, in the opposite direction of the Worcester store where she had planned to go.

Maureen Moynihan was born in Worcester and graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Worcester and Worcester State Teachers College, the Globe reported. She and Gerald married in August 1965 in Worcester and moved a couple of years later to Rutland, where they settled into in a newly built ranch-style home on Nancy Drive.


Neighbors described Moynihan as an “awfully nice girl who would not pick up any hitchhikers,” the Globe reported.

She was active in St. Patrick’s Parish in Rutland, and taught religious instruction classes at the church to seventh and eighth graders, the Globe reported.

This article appeared in The Boston Globe on June 7, 1973, the day after their bodies were found. Boston Globe Archives

In 2006, Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that evidence in the double slaying had been sent for DNA analysis.

“The evidence at the scene was preserved,” Conte told the newspaper. “DNA is such a powerful weapon right now, and we were hoping we would get a hit.”

“This is the type of case, you know, many people felt that they could solve it, and our best hope of course has always been in these types of situations to come up with a suspect,” Conte said. “But with the DNA, this is an added dimension.”

“We’re still working on it,” he added. “This is something that’s really not on the back burner ... It’s the type of case that you just never forget.”

In 2015, WCVB-TV reported that the body of a man who was related to a possible suspect in the case was exhumed from Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park in hopes DNA could help identify the killer. The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the report or if any useful information was obtained.

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Anyone with information that could help this investigation can contact State Police Detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney’s office at 508-453-7589 or WorcesterDAunresolved@mass.gov.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.