Judith Chartier case: Human remains found during search of Concord River

LOWELL, Mass. — The Concord River in Billerica has now given up its biggest secret.

On Tuesday, after almost 40 years, divers found the Dodge Dart car that Chelmsford teenager Judy Chartier was driving on June 5, 1982

Now, the Middlesex County DA has confirmed divers on Wednesday found human remains near the car.

“They did recover a variety of human remains,” Middlesex DA Marian Ryan said at a news conference in Lowell near the dive site. “In addition to those remains, they were able to find other items including a few pieces of clothing and a purse or cardcase that contained a work ID that belonged to Judy Chartier.”

The development appears to be a potential breakthrough in this forty-year-old unsolved case.

Judy Chartier was 17 years when she was last seen at a Billerica house party. She never returned home.

Boston 25 News’ Bob Ward interviewed Judy’s parents in 2001 at their home in Limestone, Maine for New England’s Unsolved. Both parents have since passed away without knowing what happened to their daughter. Judy’s brother, Joseph Chartier, told Ward Wednesday, “When I first learned her car was found, every emotion hit me at the same time. I felt like a weight was taken off my shoulders. Now there is the possibility that they found Judy after 39 years, I am feeling a sense of relief.”

Divers will soon return to the Concord River and Investigators will soon reinterview witnesses, including anyone who attended that long-ago party. All of it in an attempt to unlock this decades-old mystery.

“This was a 17-year-old girl,” DA Ryan said. “She went out one evening and never came home. No one knew where she sent. So this comes against the backdrop of that. So, it’s is always a bittersweet moment.”

The DA said it could be several weeks before authorities determine if the human remains belonged to Judy Chartier and whether the person found was a victim of foul play.

“We have been in contact with the remaining members of Judy Chartier’s family. As you can imagine, after all of these years, first to hear just a little bit of news yesterday that we’ve been able to locate the car, and then to hear this morning that we’ve actually found these human remains is both heartening in that they have a sense as to what happened to their sister but also distressing in terms of all the years they have waited. Their parents are no longer with us and obviously went to their grave not knowing what had happened to their daughter,” said Ryan.

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