Investigators identify Vermont man as victim of brutal 1969 NH murder

For five decades, Winston Morris was only known as John Doe.

BOSTON — For five decades, Winston Morris was only known as John Doe.

When his body was found on Aug. 7, 1969 in a watery pit alongside Route 93 in Salem, New Hampshire, began a mystery that only now, half a century later, detectives are being able to piece evidence together.

For the first time in 51 years, Winston “Skip” Morris has his name back.

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“He had no personal belongings, no identifiers from 1969, the body had been in the ground for a long time, it was unexpected that we could find any evidence that we could use to identify him,” said NH Sr. Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell.

The road to identifying Morris started in December 2012 when the NH Cold Case Unit exhumed his body and investigators were able to reconstruct his face.

The facial reconstruction showed just how brutally Morris was murdered; he was shot six times in the head and torso.

“I think the ongoing theory for some period of time was that this was a substantial criminal organization that was involved, or some serious criminal activity to be involved,” said Morrell.

But, it was only when Criminalist Timothy Jackson was able to use Morris’ left finger to extract a finger print and a match by manually plotting the print’s characteristics that investigators were able to get the final identification.

“Just knowing that we were working with a finger from 1969, we were just amazed when we got the identification,” said Jackson.

Now, authorities know Morris was married and that, in May 1969, he was released from Vermont State Prison and had visited Boston, Connecticut and Burlington, Vermont, before he was murdered.

Five decades later and Morris’ family finally has some closure on what happened to him. But there is more information to uncover.

“When you have a moment where you actually solve a case, particularly a case that is so old, in such a unique manner, it’s very gratifying and makes us want to continue on,” said Morrell. “I don’t think any of us thought we were going to be able to identify the remains. It is with great surprise and joy that we were able to do this and that we are able to give some closure to Mr. Morris.

The mystery of what happened to Winston Morris, however, continues - the big question now is finding out who killed him.

Authorities say this case remains active. If you have any information on what happened to Morris, please call New Hampshire State Police.