Barrel with human remains found in Bear Brook State Park launches mystery: Part 1

In 1985, police were alerted to a suspicious barrel in some New Hampshire woods. Inside, they found the decomposing unidentified bodies of a female adult and child who had died of blunt force trauma.
8:19 | 03/21/20

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Transcript for Barrel with human remains found in Bear Brook State Park launches mystery: Part 1
Test, test. Check check check. In the middle of New Hampshire, there's this state park, bear brook state park. It's huge. It's covered in thick forests. It's full of nooks and crannies to get lost in. It's the type of place where you can find some of the last remaining rattlesnakes in new England. Where kids play hide and seek on four wheelers. And where, in 1985, a horrible discovery was made. 10,000 acres means we do have over 40 miles of trails. It's a very large park, and there's parts of the park that people do not explore or get out to. I would think that anyone without a familiarity with the park wouldn't want to go wandering very far into the woods. There's just a lot of undeveloped area out there. There's just nothing but woods. If someone wanted to hide a body, that would unfortunately be the place to do it. If you tried to write this as a fictional story, I don't -- I think people would say it's too unbelievable. What began as one story for me turned into like four that spanned the country, spanned 30 or 40 years, and all connected in a way that couldn't be believed at first. I grew up in bear brook gardens in allenstown, New Hampshire. It's a small trailer park of maybe a hundred trailers, which is surrounded by bear brook state park. When we were kids, we created a game that was basically hide and seek with a four wheeler. You would just ride the four wheeler around looking for the kids that were hiding in the woods. We did it pretty much all summer long. Once I was approached by one of the kids in the group that he had come upon a barrel out in the middle of the woods, which was off the trail. We drove up that trail, off the trail a little bit. We found a barrel standing up. It was just odd that the barrel was out there. It was a slightly rusted, dark blue barrel. It's a blue 55-gallon steel drum. It's just kind of sitting out in the woods. The brother that found the barrel went over to it and tried to lift the top of the barrel. And when he did that, we were hit with a smell that was absolutely putrid. One of the brothers just pushed the barrel over. And we watched the barrel fall on its side. I do recall seeing a little bit of, like, gray whitish fluid ooze out of the bottom of the barrel, which I thought at the time at 11 years old was rotting milk. The guys jumped on my four-wheeler and we booted out of there, and that was the last time that we saw the barrel. Several months after the kids have kicked it over, a police officer gets a call about a hunter. I was working the day shift. It was overcast, cold. And I received a call from dispatch to meet a hunter in the bear brook gardens mobile home park. He was very, very white, very pale. And he said to me, "There's a barrel up in the woods, and I think there's some bones in there." So I told him to stay by my pa patrol car. And he heads into the woods, pretty skeptical that there is anything amiss. And I walked approximately 300 yards. I could see the barrel. It was laying on its side, and as I got closer, I saw that something was -- had fallen out of the barrel. It looked like a plastic rug, and it was all rolled up. I kneeled down, and I opened up the plastic. As I open the bag, the face is looking right at me. I said to myself, this is not good. So I said to dispatch, 5-1. Be advised I have a 1050. And she said, could you are a Pete that? They alerted the state authorities, the attorney general's office, state police, and it sort of set in motion an investigation. The bodies were found not far from this sandpit just behind the bear brook gardens mobile home park. Two decomposed bodies were found inside, what appeared to be an adult female and then a younger female child. They have been able to determine that both victims were female, one an adult in her early 20s to early 30s. The other a young girl between the ages of 8 and 10. There is no identification, there's no purse. There's nothing inside the barrel. And the victims had been wrapped in material, principally garbage bags, and there was some electrical wire that had been wrapped around the remains. Both of those victims died from a blunt object striking their heads and crushing their skulls. Usually means that the killer is up close and right next to the victims. If I knew who the victim was, because everybody knew everybody in town, I could start connecting the dots. When you don't know who the person is, when you don't know who the victim is, it makes it a hell of a lot harder to solve the crime. In New Hampshire, we have very few murders that involve complete strangers. Most of the murders occur amongst people who know each other. A close family member, maybe a friend, maybe a coworker. The next day I cold canvassed the town. I went to approximately 200 residences, asking, notice anything different? Anybody missing? Maybe a mother, child. Nobody knew nothing, and that was odd, because the population was 5,000. Everybody knew everything in that town. The hope was that there would be a missing persons case from somewhere that matched the description of a family unit. It is going to take a great deal of time for them to be identified. We have run them through all of the computers, both at the state level and from Washington D.C., and they are simply not in that Who are these victims? Are they local people, or are they from a distance away? Maybe a truck driver from Canada came down and was looking for a spot to dump his victims. Was it somebody who was passing through? A tourist, something like that? Somewhere, somehow, somebody must know, you know, who these people are. We have a mother and a young child. It's like, just didn't disappear off the face of the Earth without a name or an identity. Two years after the barrel was discovered, authorities released their remains so that they could be buried. These victims deserved the dignity of having a proper burial. We're gonna give them a proper burial. Chief Connor arranged for the church to give him a plot in the cemetery. A local gravestone company donated a headstone. The headstone did not have names. There's an inscription to the fact that they were found in 1985. It reads, here lies the mortal remains known only to god of a woman aged 23 to 33 and a girl child aged 8 to 10. Their slain bodies were found on November 10th, 1985, in bear brook state park. May their souls find peace in god's loving care. And with the burial of the two victims, that was kind of it. The case was pretty well cold and it would stay that way for almost 15 years. When I would patrol, I would go into the cemetery, I would stop and look at the gravestone, and I would just say to myself, who are you? Where did you come from?

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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