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Wednesday, April 18

WESTMINSTER -- On April 15, 1986, Lynda M. Moore, a 36-year-old mother of two, was found dead at her north Westminster home, the victim of more than 20 stab wounds. The attention of the region fixed upon the case. Investigators for the Vermont State Police followed every lead they could get.

They searched Moore's home again and again.

Road blocks were set up around the area. Neighbors were questioned for any details they could give.

A criminal psychologist was called in and interpreted the facts of the case.

But there were no answers.

Twenty-one years later, the investigation remains open. Detective Lt. William Jenkins, at the state police barracks in Rockingham, has been in charge of the investigation since last winter. He inherited stacks and stacks of police documents and evidence.

"We definitely remain hopeful that someday we can solve it," Jenkins said.

Every now and then a new lead comes along, and Jenkins revisits the case. He said he has spent about three or four days collectively reading the reports, but still has not read everything.

Jenkins said he wants to soak up all the knowledge he can about the case so if a new, big development comes along, he knows his way around the murder case.

"A long time ago, I resigned myself to the idea that this may never be solved," said Lynda's son, Christopher Moore in an e-mailed statement. "But I always hold out hope."

Christopher Moore is now a lawyer practicing out of Bellows Falls. In his statement, he went on to discuss the day of his mother's death.

"If it was as dreary outside in April of 1986 as it is in April 2007, she would not have been outside that fateful afternoon, would not have been spotted by the man responsible and therefore would still be alive today. Unfortunately, circumstances converged which put her and her family in the path of a tornado," he wrote.

Lynda Moore was found dead by her husband at their home on Route 121 after he arrived home from work. Word of her death spread quickly in the town and a day later people worriedly locked their doors, kept a closer eye on their children and followed the news reports closely.

"Everybody's scared," resident Charlene Burns told the Reformer a day after the murder. "I wish the cops would tell us something. I locked my door last night for the first time in years, and my kids are scared."

Burns said she wished the police had told residents and neighbors something about the murder, whether it was a "wild maniac" or someone who knew Lynda Moore.

But the truth was, they didn't know.

The police probe stretched for months, then for a year. Then, in 1987, police issued a composite sketch of a man thought to be connected to the stabbing death.

The sketch showed a clean-shaven white male with a round face, dark-rimmed glasses and dark, trimmed hair. Police thought the man to be 20 to 25 years old, slightly stocky and carrying a bright, blue knapsack on the day of the murder.

At the time, police said a man of the description was spotted near the Moore home the day of the murder and may have been hitchhiking. Police said the same description came from more than one source.

While police questioned, no arrests were ever made.

Increasingly, investigators and the public alike began to suspect that the murder was connected to a series of killings along the Connecticut River in both Vermont and New Hampshire -- the work of a serial killer in cases that became known as "The Connecticut River Valley murders."

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Christopher Moore said trying to make those connections makes sense. He said the coincidences are too prevalent to ignore.

"There were knife killings before and after, north and south, east and west of my mom's murder," he said.

Christopher went on to describe the stabbing of Jane Boroski, who was attacked by a man with a knife in Swanzey, N.H. She was stabbed more than 30 times and lived. The woman saw the man's Jeep and the first three numbers on his license plate.

"I think this is a man the police need to eliminate as a suspect," he said.

It wasn't until last year that investigators took interest in the case after a Florida murder-suicide.

On New Year's Eve 2005, Michael Nicholaou shot his estranged wife and stepdaughter before turning the gun on himself.

The incident caught the attention of Lynn-Marie Carty, a detective who had been hired by a Vermont mother to find her daughter, Michelle Ashley, who had two babies with Nicholaou and disappeared in 1988.

Ashley disappeared, but Nicholaou kept the two kids, eventually settling in Florida.

Carty, along with retired Vermont criminal profiler John Philpin, began looking at Nicholaou's presence along the Connecticut River Valley during the time of the murders.

DNA from Nicholaou could be compared with DNA from the River Valley victims, and prompted Moore to look for a possible connection.

Philpin said that comparison likely won't happen. He said the DNA samples probably never existed.

"My feeling through this whole thing was if they had it, they should have said so," Philpin said.

Philpin said he thinks there is a connection between Nicholaou and the river valley murders -- including Moore's stabbing death.

His investigations, along with Carty, started last year shortly after the Nicholaou murder-suicide. He has spent a good deal of time trying to place Nicholaou at certain locations during the time of the murders.

Philpin said the Nicholaou connection gained just a small amount of attention from the law enforcement investigators.

The possible connection is just another lead for the Moore case, a file that has been open for 21 years now and gets harder to close every year.

"It is likely that someone in the public has information that would lead us to Lynda Moore's killer," Jenkins wrote in a press release. "That person may think the information is insignificant, or they may have been afraid to come forward for any number of reasons. We urge anyone with information to come forward and talk to us."

Christopher Moore said his mom is remembered as a loving mother to him and his sister Allyson.

Active with the Rockingham Hospital Auxiliary, where she served as president, she actively pushed for a requirement for car seats for infants.

The hospital established the Lynda M. Moore memorial scholarship. The scholarship goes to Bellows Falls area graduates who have committed to study in the field of nursing.

Donations to the scholarship fund can be sent to the care of Christopher Moore, P.O. Box 50, Bellows Falls, VT 05101.

Patrick J. Crowley can be reached at pcrowley@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.