Remains found in search of Concord River identified as Judy Chartier, teen who disappeared in 1982

BILLERICA, Mass. — Middlesex County DA Marian Ryan announced Friday that the human remains found near a submerged car in the Concord River in Billerica on Wednesday have been positively identified as belonging to missing Chelmsford teenager Judith Chartier.

Chartier disappeared on June 5, 1982 after attending a party in Billerica. This week, authorities announced that the VIN from a car located in the river matched Chartier’s car.

On Wednesday, DA Ryan announced human remains were also recovered along with Chartier’s work identification. On Friday, the DA announced the State Medical Examiner, using dental records, confirmed the human remains belong to Judy Chartier.

The car and the remains were found in 10 feet of water less than two miles from the site of the party where Chartier was last seen.

“It’s bittersweet, it’s hard to believe that she was so close all these years,” Judith’s cousin, Heather Laine said. " To have her so close to home is kind of disheartening, but it’s comforting to know she was here all this time.”

Chelmsford Police Chief James Spinney said the Chartier case has haunted the department for decades.

“There’s no other way to put it. This case was an open wound for us - the town and the department,” Chief Binney said.

The chief explained, over the decades, Chelmsford detectives have spent countless hours working the case without finding her. News that Judith Chartier is found comes as a relief for the department.

“We’re all still stunned. But we’re also satisfied. We’re happy for the family. And that’s been the most important thing,” Chief Spinney said.

For Judith Chartier’s family, the focus is turning to bringing her home and giving her a proper burial.

“I think it closes old wounds, we are going to have to do a lot of healing,” Heather Laine said. “It’s been a long fight to try to find her, but it’s also going to take a lot of time to heal because now we have a place to bury her. We can finally grieve the loss that we haven’t been able to grieve.”

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.”

“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 DA Marian Ryan.

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