New England's Unsolved

Major break in decades-old cold case murder of Pembroke’s Virginia Hannon

PEMBROKE, Mass. — Investigators say a Brockton man, who died in 2020, was the man who murdered 59-year-old Virginia Hannon in her home back in 1984.

The revelation that Jesse Aylward’s DNA matches evidence collected from the crime scene, ends decades of mystery in the small South Shore community.

“We have exhausted all the evidence that we currently have, and it all points in the direction of Jesse Aylward,” Plymouth County DA Timothy Cruz announced Thursday.

This is a case I have featured on New England’s Unsolved.

On February 13, 1984, Virginia Hannon was found dead in her bed, her body covered by a blanket.

The popular school cafeteria worker was beaten and stabbed.

And she was strangled with a pair of nylon stockings.

It is believed Aylward and Hannon did not know each other.

However, at the time of the murder, Aylward lived in Pembroke close to Hannon’s home.

For decades, despite constant police work, the Hannon case was cold.

But the big break came in February 2020, when a tipster contacted Pembroke police with shocking information.

The tipster claimed that in 2019, Alyward confessed to him that he had “killed someone in Pembroke a long time ago.”

Authorities say the tipster contacted Pembroke Police with the new information the day after Aylward died in Brockton.

Mass State Police got obtained a search warrant and collected Aylward’s DNA at Brockton Hospital.

That DNA was a match to evidence recovered on crime scene evidence collected on broken glass, bloody paper towels, and the nylon stockings that were used to strangle Virginia Hannon.

The victim’s heartbroken family expressed thanks to police for never giving up.

But they said the news, coming after the suspect’s death, is bittersweet.

“I’m so glad they finally have someone,” Judy Hannon said. “Would I like to see him go in handcuffs? Yes, because that’s what he deserves.

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