Skip to main content

Newtown: Until school shooting, 1 homicide in almost a decade

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 10:21 AM EST, Tue December 18, 2012
Candles burn next to a lighted tree at a makeshift shrine in Newtown, Connecticut, commemorating the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Candles burn next to a lighted tree at a makeshift shrine in Newtown, Connecticut, commemorating the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
HIDE CAPTION
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
Reaction to Newtown school killings
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The town had only one reported homicide in nearly 10 years
  • Two years ago, investigators found the remains of a missing woman
  • Her husband has been charged in the death

(CNN) -- Nearly three decades ago, a woman disappeared from the Connecticut town of Newtown, leaving behind a trail of questions.

For years, investigators grappled for answers in the 1984 case. In 2010, they found her skeletal remains buried under the flooring of an apartment kitchen, and arrested her husband.

Until last week's elementary school massacre, the break in the cold case was the big headline in the town of 27,000 people.

It became the only reported homicide in the town in nearly a decade. A study of FBI numbers dating to 2004 listed only the woman's killing.

Portrait of a grieving town

Then came Friday, when a gunman blasted his way through Sandy Hook Elementary School, spraying bullets and slaughtering terrified children in the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

Firefighter: 'We'll be scarred forever'
Inside the brains of violent killers
Connecticut State Police officers search outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, Connecticut, on Sunday, December 16, after a threat prompted authorities to evacuate the building. Investigators found nothing to substantiate the reported threat, a police official said, declining to provide additional details. The church held Sunday services following last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Connecticut State Police officers search outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, Connecticut, on Sunday, December 16, after a threat prompted authorities to evacuate the building. Investigators found nothing to substantiate the reported threat, a police official said, declining to provide additional details. The church held Sunday services following last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Connecticut school shooting
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Connecticut school shooting Photos: Connecticut school shooting
Mourners wipe tears away as they file out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the funeral of Emilie Parker in Ogden, Utah, on Saturday, December 22. Mourners wipe tears away as they file out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the funeral of Emilie Parker in Ogden, Utah, on Saturday, December 22.
Newtown funerals: Community says goodbye
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Funerals: Community says goodbye Funerals: Community says goodbye
Victim's mom: 'I have a hole in my heart'

When the whiz of bullets subsided, 20 children, six adults, and the gunman lay dead. Earlier, he had shot and killed his mother.

The latest deaths jolted the scenic town filled with twinkling holiday lights and vibrant poinsettias. The upscale community features expansive homes surrounded by woods. Lobster bakes and dances are popular among residents.

Many residents commute to jobs in Manhattan and the nearby Connecticut cities of Stamford and Hartford.

Unlike the mass shooting, the cold case involving the last murder in the town was short on details.

John Heath reported his wife missing from their Newtown home in April 1984. Friends and relatives said her disappearance was unusual; she would never walk out on her 4-year-old daughter, according to the Hartford Courant.

The couple was going through a divorce when she disappeared, the Newtown Bee reported.

Twenty-six years after the missing-person report, a man and his son renovating an apartment once owned by Heath found the woman's bones.

A search at the location revealed more of Mary Elizabeth Heath's remains stuffed in beddings.

She suffered blunt force trauma to the head and had two broken arms, court records showed, the latter defense wounds a result of putting her arms up.

Police charged John Heath with murder, to which he pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.

The story rocked the small community.

Regional news outlets competed with local ones to report the latest developments.

On Friday, the town was in the headlines again. This time, all over the world.

Strangers inspired to honor Newtown victims

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:50 PM EST, Sat November 22, 2014
Adam Lanza was an isolated young man with deteriorating mental health and a fascination for mass violence, according to a report released by a Connecticut state agency.
updated 10:58 AM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Horror struck Newtown, Connecticut, in such a disturbing way that the nation still struggles with its impact a year later.
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
Fifty miles from Newtown, workers hate that their products fall into the wrong hand. But the Second Amendment is sacred here.
Rabbi Shaul Praver says people in Newtown have grown weary of syrupy condolences.
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
Congress may have defeated tighter gun laws, but states have been passing bills of their own in the wake of Newtown
Details continue to emerge about what precisely happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Here is a timeline of events that compiles the latest reporting.
An interactive tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
updated 1:12 AM EDT, Sat May 25, 2013
The public school district will receive $1.3 million to help the community recover from the , U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
Police released new documents related to the shootings last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, but a motive for the attack by the troubled young man remained elusive.
updated 11:26 AM EST, Tue January 15, 2013
His parents remember Dylan Hockley as such a happy child.
updated 10:17 AM EST, Wed December 19, 2012
Amid the chaos that first-responder Ray Corbo witnessed on Friday, there is one image that he will never forget.
updated 10:02 AM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
In many ways, Josh Stepakoff's childhood came to an abrupt halt at 10:49 a.m. on August 10, 1999.
updated 9:40 AM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
When Lauren Rousseau's boyfriend wakes up, he can smell her perfume.
updated 10:30 AM EST, Tue December 18, 2012
Placing yourself in the path of flying bullets to protect innocents. It's a job description fitting for a soldier or police officer, but not for a school teacher.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT