73-year-old Massachusetts man accused of fatally beating 10-year-old girl 56 years ago
11/03/2022 11:58 am PDT
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (TCD) -- A 73-year-old man stands accused of killing a missing young girl whose beaten body was found by fishermen over five decades ago.
On Thursday, May 26, 1966, at approximately 6 p.m., 10-year-old Betty Lou Zukowski left her Front Street home in Chicopee, Massachusetts, after telling her mother she got a call from one of her friends, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said in a news release.
Zukowski’s parents reported their daughter missing that evening when she did not return home. Four days later, on May 30, 1966, Zukowski’s beaten and mud-covered body was reportedly discovered near the Westfield River in Springfield by young boys fishing.
An autopsy confirmed the girl died from multiple blunt force injuries to her head, a skull fracture, and terminal drowning. At the time of the discovery, authorities reportedly believed that the girl knew the person who killed her. According to Gulluni, investigators concluded that Zukowski met up with the person and rode in a vehicle to Springfield. However, at the time, authorities could not identify any significant leads.
After speaking with witnesses, nearly a week after Zukowski’s remains were found, police developed a sketch of the last person who allegedly saw Zukowski alive. The sketch was reportedly published in local newspapers and media, but no one was able to identify the suspect, and the case went cold.
The Unresolved Case Unit was reportedly able to focus on Zukowski’s case over the last year, and evidence linking Donald Mars to the killing was presented to a grand jury. On Nov. 1, a Hampden County Grand Jury indicted Mars for first-degree murder. He remains held without bail and is scheduled to appear in court on May 1, 2023.
In a statement, Gulluni said, "Sadly, Betty Lou’s parents are deceased and will not see Donald Mars answer for what we allege he did to their daughter."
He continued, "While this investigation will not bring Betty Lou back to her family, or grant her the opportunity to grow into a healthy adult that she and every child deserves, it is for them and for Betty Lou that we embark upon this journey of seeking justice."
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