An ID card belonging a Massachusetts teen last seen nearly four decades ago has been recovered from a river, along with unidentified human remains, authorities said.
Judith Chartier, of Chelmsford, 17, was last seen on June 5, 1982, after leaving a party in Billerica.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said “significant portions” of the teen’s 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger were located by divers Tuesday in the Concord River in Billerica, marking a crucial development in the decades-old cold case.
Investigators recovered human remains and a work ID of Chartier’s in the same river Wednesday near Tuesday’s find — about 50 to 75 yards from shore in about 8 to 10 feet of water, the Boston Globe reported.
“They did recover a variety of human remains,” Ryan told reporters at a press conference. “In addition to those remains, they were able to find other items, including a few pieces of clothing and a purse or card case that contained a work identification that belonged to Judy Chartier. Now that does not mean the remains are Judy Chartier, but it is a piece of information we’ve taken from the area.”
Positively identifying the remains and determining whether Chartier was a victim of foul play could take weeks or months, Ryan said.
“We’ll be working over the next days and weeks both to make a positive identification of the remains and then to see if we can make any assessment as to what happened,” she told reporters.
Chartier’s car was positively identified through its vehicle identification number, Ryan said in a statement Tuesday.
“This is a very significant development in this case and we are still processing the car for any additional evidence,” she said. “Sadly, this discovery comes after nearly 40 heartbreaking years of Judith’s friends and family missing her and wondering about what happened that day. We are committed to continuing the search for those answers.”
Ryan said investigators also aren’t sure how Chartier’s car ended up in a section of the Concord River than runs through Billerica, WHDH reported. The landscape has changed significantly since the time she vanished, she said.
“The access that you would have had to the river from various points was different back then,” Ryan said Wednesday. “The river here is very murky. There’s a lot of vegetation.”
Chartier’s parents have since died, but officials relayed the find to other surviving relatives, the Boston Globe reported.
Chartier’s mother told the newspaper in 1990 that her daughter’s disappearance had upended her life, leaving her with many unanswered questions as to whether Judith was the victim of foul play or if she was even still alive.
“The not knowing is horrible,” said the teen’s mother, also named Judy. “I’ll go into a mood that she must have been screaming and hollering for me that night.”