Essex District Attorney’s Office
(BEVERLY, Mass.) — A convict was indicted Wednesday in the murder of a college student who was found strangled to death more than 35 years ago, officials said.
The body of 20-year-old Claire Gravel was discovered in the woods on June 30, 1986, in Beverly, Massachusetts.
In the intervening years, authorities have interviewed dozens of witnesses and persons of interest in the cold case, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett told reporters during a press briefing Wednesday.
A grand jury indicted 63-year-old John Carey in her death Wednesday morning, Blodgett said. Carey is currently serving a 20-year sentence at a Concord prison after he was convicted in 2008 of attempting to strangle another woman to death in Massachusetts.
“For 36 years, Claire Gravel’s family and friends have had nothing but questions about her death,” Blodgett said. “Today, we were able to give them some of the answers.”
Evidence recovered from Gravel’s clothing “was instrumental in solving this case,” Blodgett said, noting that investigators continually review cold cases “hoping that new techniques and a fresh look would result in a breakthrough.”
Carey, who had been a person of interest in the case, will be arraigned on a first-degree murder charge at a later date, Blodgett said. It is unclear if the suspect has an attorney.
Blodgett said prosecutors have not yet speculated on a motive in Gravel’s murder, but said “we feel confident” based on the evidence presented to the grand jury “that we have the right person.”
Gravel, a student at Salem State from North Andover, was last seen alive the day before her body was found. After a night at a local bar with members of her softball team, a friend dropped Gravel off at her apartment at around 1:30 a.m. on June 29. Three workers found her body in the woods off Route 128 in Beverly on the afternoon of June 30. The medical examiner determined that she had been strangled to death.
Blodgett said he has been in touch with Gravel’s family, who expressed “relief” that a suspect has been identified in her murder.
“I want to thank everyone for their tireless and relentless pursuit of justice for Claire,” he said.
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