|Reward Offered in Renewed Search for Kim Benoit's Killer|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
04:12AM / Tuesday, November 16, 2021
|Kim Benoit was 18 years old when she was murdered in 1974. Her family is hoping a reward will help crack the case. |
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It was 47 years ago today when the body of Kim Benoit was found off a lonely stretch of road in Hoosac Tunnel in the town of Florida.
No one has been charged in her murder and past leads have gone cold.
After a half-century, time is running out.
"We know that there are people out there in the community, in North Adams in particular, that have information about what happened to Kim and who was responsible for her death," said Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington. "Kim's family certainly holds out hope that they are going to get closure and that they're going to know what happened to her."
The DA's office and Benoit's family are hoping a $15,000 reward will help spark some memories of a November night in 1974 when Benoit disappeared.
It was a Friday night, Nov. 1, and cold and damp, when Benoit walked out of the old Sons of Italy. She'd been at a dance at the Sons but had spilled something on her clothes, friends later told police, and was leaving to change. She had been staying at a friend's apartment in the West End.
She was last seen wearing blue pants, a blue and white flowered print blouse, brown shoes, dark socks, and a necklace. She'd turned 18 three weeks before.
Two weeks after she was reported missing, a hunter stumbled across her body at the bottom of an embankment. An autopsy by a Boston pathologist determined she had been strangled and found blunt force trauma to her head.
More than 50 people were interviewed in the weeks following but requests for information by police turned up little. A prime suspect, Paul John Knowles, an admitted killer charged in seven murders who had been in North Adams and Florida the month before, was ruled out when he could be placed in Georgia at the time of Benoit's disappearance. He was shot and killed by deputies in Georgia during an escape attempt in December 1974.
The case went cold but was never closed and, according to the DA's office, there were "renewed efforts in the early 2000s based on the receipt of a significant lead." More recently, Harrington has hired Edward Culver, a recently retired state police detective who had worked out of her office, to focus on the Benoit case and other cold cases. His efforts will include analyzing the case data, taking and prioritizing tips and preparing information for investigators. Advances in forensics and technology may provide a breakthrough with new evidence.
The district attorney's office is responsible for investigating homicides but continues to work with collaboratively with the North Adams Police Department.
"It's a high priority for my office to work on resolving these currently unresolved cases," the district attorney said. "We are putting more resources into the investigation side for the unresolved cases. And that really is because it's difficult with the current resources in the unit to have the time to go back and look at the unresolved cases. So we're putting more resources into doing that by hiring an investigator."
Benoit isn't the only case — almost two years to the day she disappeared, the body of Cynthia Krizack was found in Windsor. The 17-year-old Williamstown girl had disappeared after leaving the Williams College library and causes of death were similar in both girls. Six years after that, Lynn Burdick would disappear from the Barefoot Peddler store in Florida; she has not been found.
The DA's office is putting up a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who killed Benoit. Her family is putting up $5,000. The family did not want to speak publicly, Harrington said.
The anniversary might also prompt people who were around at the time to remember small but possibly significant details: seeing a young girl hitchhiking, a strange car on a Florida road, an overheard conversation.
"There's been a lot of work done on this case. So investigators are not starting with nothing. They have some solid information, but those extra small details that people know about and maybe haven't come forward and disclosed yet could absolutely be really critical to us in solving this case and making an arrest and obtaining a conviction," Harrington said.
"People get older, they might want to share information. They might want to get something off their chest ... people can have all kinds of motivation for wanting to come forward and really do the right thing here in this case."
Anyone with information about Benoit is asked to contact the state police detective unit at the Berkshire District Attorney's Office at 413-499-1112 or the North Adams Police Department at 413-664-4944.