• New England's Unsolved: Brenda Lacombe

    By: Bob Ward


    HARVARD, Mass. - On June 4, 1982 a jogger in rural Harvard, Mass. made a gruesome discovery near a stone wall that raised a critical question still unanswered 34 years later: How did 19-year-old Brenda Lacombe's body get there?

    "There’s many police who have said directly to my family, she was brutally murdered," Lacey Kearns told FOX25.

    Lacey wasn’t even born when her aunt Brenda Lacombe was murdered, but she is devoting nearly all of her free time trying to find Brenda's killer.

    “The older I got, the more I found out about the case. Some of it was pretty horrific,” she said.

    FOX25's Bob Ward with Lacey Kearns
    FOX25's Bob Ward with Lacey Kearns
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    The mystery of Brenda Lacombe's murder, stretches back to the night of May 15, 1982. In an apartment in the Francis Gatehouse Mill complex in Lowell, Brenda spent her last hours with her grandmother.

    "They were playing cards and drinking wine and then Brenda left at 12:45 a.m. and was never seen again,” Kearns told FOX25.      

    Brenda Lacombe was 19 years old in 1982 and the single mother of a 9-month-old baby, Matthew. But motherhood did nothing to quench Brenda's spirit.

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    “She was just one of those people you couldn't forget. She was a spitfire. She didn't back down from anything. Brenda was still partying a lot. Hanging out with the wrong crowd,” Kearns said.

    On the night Brenda was last seen alive, she abruptly ended a double date she was on with her sister, and they dropped her off at her Grandmother's apartment. And there, sometime around 12:30 a.m., Brenda made a phone call that remains a key part of this mystery.

    FOX25's Bob Ward asked Kearns if her research uncovered why she left the grandmothers at the time she left. 

    "No it was after that phone call. It would be very helpful to know who she called. Nobody has any idea,” she said.

    Brenda was gone. The next morning, her family immediately knew something was wrong.

    “Matthew, her son, had an appointment the next day before she disappeared. She didn't call and she didn't show up. Matthew was her world and she's never done that before. That's why my grandfather knew something was up,“ Kearns said.         

    Weeks later, the jogger's discovery ended any hope of finding Brenda alive. She was identified through dental work.

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Lacey Kearns has amassed a library of research into her aunt's murder and other cases. 

    “They 100 percent told my family that it was horrible how she was murdered just by the way they found her. And what they saw, “Kearns recalls.

    Turns out, on the day Brenda's body was found, another teenager, Judith Chartier of Chelmsford, disappeared.

    Brenda Lacombe and Judith Chartier
    Brenda Lacombe and Judith Chartier
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Chartier is still missing, and Brenda and Judy knew each other.

    FOX25 asked Kearns is she thought these two cases could be connected?

    Her one word answer, “Absolutely.”

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Thirty-four years later, Lacey is still searching for her Aunt's killer.

    “I've got endless amounts of information. It’s incredible the places it has taken me,” Kearns said.

    "We don't consider this case a cold case. Soon after I took office in 2007, we started an “unresolved” case squad. This is one of the unresolved cases that still has our attention. All of these cases are actively being worked on," Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. told FOX25. 

    If you know anything about what happened to Brenda Lacombe, call the Worcester County DA's office at (508) 755-8601.



    Next Up: