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Man pleads guilty to 1992 slaying of Lexington woman

Posted by Your Town  July 3, 2012 03:53 PM

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The following is a press release from the office of Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone. For further coverage, click here.

WOBURN– A convicted murderer pled guilty to a charge of murder in connection with the 1992 previously unsolved fatal stabbing of Kathleen Dempsey, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone informed the public today.

Craig Conkey, 45, pled guilty today in Middlesex County Superior Court on a charge of murder in the second degree. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman sentenced Conkey to life in prison with the eligibility of parole after 15 years.

“By pleading guilty today, Craig Conkey is admitting his responsibility for his cowardly actions, brutally taking the life of an innocent woman in the sanctity of her home. Today’s developments are the result of the incredible dedication and commitment of the investigative team who, along with Kathleen’s family, never gave up hope that her murderer would one day be held accountable,” District Attorney Leone said. “I want to commend the Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the case who, along with the Lexington Police Department and our office, have worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to solve this horrific murder. With this being the fourth previously unsolved homicide case we solved within a one year period in Middlesex County, we hope these cases provide hope to families of other victims in unsolved cases, that justice can and will be earned on behalf of their loved ones as they endure the recovery process.”

According to authorities, at approximately 10:46 am on August 23, 1992, Lexington police responded to 14 Ridge Road in Lexington for reports of a person stabbed. Upon arrival, police located the victim, 31-year-old Kathleen Dempsey, in her basement apartment, obviously deceased.

An autopsy was conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (ME) which concluded that the victim had been stabbed numerous times in her chest, neck, and back and ruled that the manner of death was homicide.

Lexington Police and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office launched an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the killing. It was determined that the defendant entered a doorway in the back of the house where Kathleen Dempsey resided with the intent to commit burglary in the early morning hours of August 23, 1992. Upon breaking into the home, he startled Dempsey, who had been sleeping, and then attacked her, ultimately killing her before fleeing the scene.

Until the time of the defendant’s indictment on December 21, 2011, the murder had remained unsolved. Due to evidentiary developments, which included scientific advancements in evidence testing technology, as well as statements from the defendant implicating himself in the alleged crime, coupled with investigators’ 19-year-long investigation, the defendant was charged with Kathleen Dempsey’s murder.

Conkey was arraigned on a charge of murder on January 23, 2012 in Middlesex County Superior Court where Middlesex County Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan ordered the defendant held without bail.

Conkey is currently serving a life sentence at MCI-Cedar Junction after he pled guilty on August 27, 2009 to charges of second degree murder and armed burglary in connection with the 1994 murder of Mary Lou Sale, 49, of Lexington.

This is the fourth previously unsolved homicide case the office has solved within a one year period. When District Attorney Leone took office in 2007, he established a new unsolved homicide system to reinvigorate the efforts to solve unsolved homicide cases. DA Leone assigned a team comprised of ADAs, State Police Detectives assigned to the office, and Victim Witness Advocates to each unsolved case and tasked each of them to take a fresh look at the cases and determine what additional investigative avenues can be taken to solve them. This renewed effort works to solve these cases and bring those responsible to justice.

The prosecutors assigned to the case are First Assistant District Attorney Michael Fabbri and Assistant District Attorney David Solet, Chief of the MDAO’s Cyber Protection Program. The Victim Witness Advocate is Susie Marshall. This case was investigated by the Lexington Police Department and Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.


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