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星期二, 6月 28, 2016

District Attorney Conley’s remarks on Dora Brimage case.

District Attorney Conley’s remarks on Dora Brimage case.


On a warm night almost 30 years ago, 19-year-old Dora Jean Brimage left a party near Prentiss Street in Roxbury.  Her body was found the next morning – September 7, 1987 – in the rear of a Warren Avenue storefront.  She had been badly beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled to death. 

Dora Brimage’s homicide went unsolved – until now.

Based on evidence and testimony gathered by Suffolk County homicide prosecutors, the Boston Police Cold Case Homicide Squad, and criminalists of the BPD Crime Lab, the Suffolk County Grand Jury yesterday returned an indictment charging JAMES PAIGE with first-degree murder in Dora’s homicide. 

Paige is 50 years old, a resident of Manchester, New Hampshire, and currently in custody at the Hillsborough County House of Corrections.  A Massachusetts warrant has been lodged there, and we expect he will be transported to face these charges in the coming weeks.

Dora Brimage was born and raised in Boston.  She was active in her church, where her grandmother was a deaconess and she sang gospel in the youth choir.  She hoped to pursue a career in nursing.  But all her hopes, dreams, and accomplishments came to naught when she got into a car with the man who, we believe, took her life.

The evidence suggests that Dora accepted a ride from James Paige when she left the party, and that she was taken to a building at 655 Warren St.  The building was vacant at the time and under renovation.  Dora’s body was found by workmen the next morning, horribly beaten and partially undressed.

The first generation of investigators could not identify her killer at the time, but their careful, methodical work was a major contribution to the case.  They retraced Dora’s steps, interviewed witnesses at the party, and perhaps most importantly, secured biological evidence from her body.  That evidence lay dormant for many years, until the Cold Case Squad submitted it for DNA testing under a federal grant.

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and courts across the country agree that DNA is the gold standard for identification.  And because the biological evidence in this case was carefully stored, lab technicians were able to develop a DNA profile from it decades after it was first recovered.  That profile was uploaded to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS.  In 2014, it matched Paige’s profile, on record as a result of a prior felony conviction, and provided the first major break in Dora’s murder. 

After numerous re-interviews by the Cold Case Squad and an exhaustive grand jury investigation by Assistant DA Craig Iannini of our Homicide Unit, we are in a position now to bring our case to court and seek a first-degree murder conviction. 

As with the homicide of Lena Bruce, which was solved late last year, this case was made in part through DNA technology that was simply unavailable to our predecessors in the 1980s.  But as with Lena’s case, DNA alone is not enough to prove the elements of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Conducting a meaningful interview with a witness decades after the fact is no easy task – and that’s assuming they’re still alive and you can find them.  Memories can fade, corroborating evidence can deteriorate, and the passage of so much time rarely benefits the prosecution team.

And that’s why the work of Sgt. Det. Billy Doogan and Detectives Jack Cronin, Kevin Pumphret, and our homicide prosecutors deserves special recognition.  In the past seven years alone, we’ve identified suspects in 17 cold case homicides.  Five of those suspects were deceased by the time we learned their identities and one was so mentally ill that he could not be prosecuted, but every single surviving defendant to go to trial has been found guilty of his crimes.  That’s a phenomenal success rate, and it speaks to the world-class professional partnership between Suffolk prosecutors and Boston police.  When the evidence exists, we follow it wherever it leads – no matter how many years it might take or how many miles we must travel.

I have to point out today that there is a tool available that will not only solve more homicides like Dora Brimage’s and Lorna Bruce’s but likely prevent them as well.  It’s being used by 30 US states and the federal government, and it’s the use of DNA fingerprinting – a DNA swab at the time of arrest.  The Supreme Court has called it a legitimate booking procedure, just like booking photos and fingerprints – except more efficient, more effective, and more reliable.  And more than this, studies in other jurisdictions have shown that by obtaining DNA samples from sexual predators earlier in their criminal careers, we can convict and incarcerate them before they reoffend.  It’s an issue of women’s safety and I would urge the legislature to consider it as we look to modernize our state’s DNA database.

I’d like to ask Commissioner Evans to say a few words now on behalf of the Boston Police Department.