Judy Chamberlain was sexually assaulted and strangled to death in a basement in 1988. Now, more than 30 years later, authorities in Boston, Massachusetts believe they’ve finally found her killer.
According to Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins (D), Richard Vega, 59, will soon be arraigned for the decades-old rape and murder. The defendant was indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 30.
“Ms. Chamberlain’s family has been waiting 33 years for answers,” the DA said in a Monday statement. “We were finally able to offer those answers some three decades later. Ms. Chamberlain’s life mattered. And we will seek a lifetime of accountability for her brutal murder and callous disposal. Her family and loved ones never stopped loving and missing her and we never stopped searching for answers.”
Vega was formally charged on Monday. He has been civilly committed by the State of Massachusetts since 2008 when a prior 20-year sentence for the 1987 rape of an elderly woman in Revere, Mass. was set to expire. Prosecutors asked for jurors to declare the defendant a sexually dangerous person and jurors agreed to keep him in custody.
Convicted in 1990, as part of that earlier sentence, Vega was forced to submit his DNA to the FBI’s Combined DNA Indexing System, which matches unidentified DNA profiles with those of known offenders.
A 2011 CODIS hit fell by the wayside by Suffolk County prosecutors at the time because they did not believe they had sufficient evidence to prove Vega’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Rollins, in the statement, said her office recently re-opened the case and obtained the additional evidence necessary to present their findings to Suffolk County grand jurors and seek a conviction. Those grand jurors, in turn, charged the defendant with murder.
Rollins, in her statement, did not specify the new evidence presented to the grand jury.
“Our family has waited 33 years for someone to be arrested for the brutal death of our sister Judy,’’ Chamberlain’s brother said in the statement. “We thank all of those involved in his capture. Our sister can now lay in peace and our family has closure. We love and miss you Judy.”
Chamberlain’s sister thanked the detectives assigned to the case.
“I would like to thank the Boston Police Department for finally finding the guy who took my sister’s life,” she said. “He took our sister, my mother’s daughter, and took Kevin and Carly’s aunt away from us.”
The DA’s office, since 2019, has devoted resources to solving some 1,300 unsolved homicides in Boston dating as far back as 50 years.
“Criminal investigations, especially homicides, are uniquely challenging. The passage of time only creates greater difficulty for investigators and prosecutors – memories may become blurry, witnesses may have died, or cannot be located – but the urgency to hold violent offenders and murderers accountable never diminishes. Ever. Our commitment to these cases and the families of individuals whose lives were stolen by an act of violence does not fade with time,” Rollins’ statement said.
The defendant is also said to go by the names Carl Vega, Ricardo Vega, and Ricardo Mazzerin. He is currently slated to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court later this month.
Rollins, a reform prosecutor elected on the strength of campaign promises to decriminalize low-level offenses and focus on major crimes, has now laid claim to putatively solving three cold cases as part of her Project for Unsolved Suffolk Homicides.
Via PUSH, her office has also obtained murder indictments against William Sanchez over the 1995 shooting death of Jorge Medina and against Steven Fike over the 1980 rape and murder of Wendy Dansereau, according to local ABC affiliate WCVB.
[image via Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office]
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