• Unsolved: A murder, a suicide and a haunting tape in Lowell

    By: Bob Ward

    Updated:

    LOWELL, Mass. - Janice Filamond was just 13 years old when her family last saw her.

    She was headed to her building manager's apartment across the parking lot. She was going to collect money owed to her for helping clean out apartments after tenants left.

    For a 13-year-old like Janice, those few bucks represented a brief step into independence. 

    Her mother had no idea when her spunky daughter left the apartment, she would never see her again. 

    In the days after Janice vanished, her family reported her missing to Lowell Police. 

    But Janice's sister, Sharon McKenna told New England's Unsolved the case was treated as a runaway -- not an abduction. 

    "It just seems unspeakable now, because she was a 13-year-old girl. She was missing, she deserved to be looked for," McKenna said. "She didn't get the proper treatment that a young missing girl should have gotten."

    She said the whole family looked for Janice themselves, fanning out through the Lowell area -- looking everywhere.

    Months later, hikers walking through woods on the Lowell-Chelmsford line near Route 3 made a horrifying discovery. They found a shallow grave containing a body that was missing arms and legs. 

    Dental records later identified that badly decomposed body as Janice Filamond. 

    Days after the shocking discovery of Janice's body, the case took a dark turn. Dennis Baker, the building manager Janice said she was going to visit when she was last seen, killed himself.

    Baker was found in his car. According to a news report, a swimming pool hose was run into the car from the exhaust pipe. 

    Found next to Baker's lifeless body, police found a cassette tape. That tape contained Baker's final words, spoken as deadly carbon monoxide gas filled his car. 

    On that tape, Dennis Baker spoke his final farewell and he denied any role in the death of Janice Filamond.

    When police searched Dennis Baker's apartment, they found a video cassette tape. And on that tape, Baker also denied having anything to do with the death of his 13-year-old neighbor.

    No one has ever been arrested for the abduction and murder of Janice Filamond. According to press accounts, Dennis Baker was the prime suspect. But he went to his grave denying any involvement.

    Janice's family is determined to discover the truth.

    Sharon McKenna's daughter, Jennifer Rymill, never met her aunt, yet she is looking into the case, trying to find out if Dennis Baker really was Janice's killer.

    "There's a lot pointing in his direction but there's not enough to say for sure he did it," Jennifer recently said. "I think there was other stuff going on back then and it could have potentially been someone else."

    Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan told New England's Unsolved Janice's case is still open and is not forgotten.

    "We remain committed to all of these case, " Ryan said. "Particularly this case, as it involves a child." 

    If you have any information about the murder of Janice Filamond, you are urged to contact the Middlesex County DA's office at 781-897-8300.

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