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  • Maureen Boyle

The summer of loss

The summer of 1988 was hot. That's what we all remember. It was a summer of beaches, pools, and seeking out air conditioning. No one expected it to also be the summer of grief.

It started on July 3, at least for the public, when the remains of a woman were found along Route 140 northbound in Freetown, a then quiet highway that ended in New Bedford at the corner of a park and zoo. She was found by a passerby who stopped to relieve herself in the bushes. The remains were partially clothed and had no identification. She would remain unidentified for months.

By month's end, on July 30, another body was found, this time on Interstate 195 in nearby Dartmouth, a town to the west of New Bedford, by two men on motorcycles who stopped to relieve themselves in the brush. The woman had no identification. She would also remain unidentified for months.

It would take months, and the reported disappearance of more women, before the community realized a killer lurked in its midst. Eleven women went missing sometime between April or March and September of that year. Nine were found; two remain missing.

In July, we should remember the first two women who were found: Debra Medeiros and Nancy Paiva. We should remember their families, including those members who passed without knowing who was responsible. Remembering is important if whoever is responsible is ever to be identified.

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