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    The Connecticut River Valley Killer

    Into the 1980s there were a lot of serial killers on the loose. Before then the whole concept of serial killers was relatively new. The were especially rare in the Connecticut River Valley. However, in the 1980s a serial killer was on the loose there and the peaceful Valley became a horrifying place to live. Everyone was scared to death. This story is about that serial killer. The police had a prime suspect but before they could even interview him and find out why he did the dreadful things much less nail him, he killed himself and his entire family. So they think the man was the serial killer but they aren't sure. Now only time will tell, which is what makes this story a New England mystery.

    In December 2005, 56 year old Eileen Nickalou went into hiding after being attacked by her husband Michael. She fled Georgia and went to her sisters home in Tampa, Florida. Michael Nickalou tracked her down loaded a guitar case full of guns and went her sisters house. On New Years Eve the enraged husband caught up with his wife. Eileen's sister says she walked in the house and saw Michael walking down the hall. Eileen asked him what he was doing with the gun. He forced Eileen and Eileen's Daughter into a back bedroom and held them hostage while Eileen's sister called the cops. When the police came they took Eileen's sister around the block and while they were waiting for SWAT they heard shots being fired. Michael had shot her sister, her niece and then shot himself. All three were dead.

    The killings might have been written off as simply a tragic domestic incident but the next day the article in the newspaper about the double murder and suicide caught the eye of private investigator Lynn Marie Carty. Michael Nickalou was a former Viet Nam veteran with a history of psychological problems and violence. For four years Lynne Carty had been looking at him as being involved in the disappearance of his previous wife, Michelle Ashley, who had disappeared from Holioke Massachusetts in 1988. Lynn decided to look and see if any other women had a problem with Michael around the time his first wife went missing. Lynn's investigation led her to some startling conclusions. She found a string of unsolved murders involving women in the same geographic area. The area is filled with small towns with people living quiet, peaceful lives. On May 30th, 1984 a 17 year old girl disappeared from Clairemont New Hampshire.

    Her name was Bernice Gudermarsh was last seen hitch hiking to a location in Newport, New Hampshire. She was supposed to meet her boyfriend about ten miles on the other side of Clairemont but never showed up. By the next day her family had reported her as a missing person. At the time it just seemed like a typical report of a girl maybe sowing some wild oats. But it does leave a big void as to where she went and who picked her up. On July 20th 1984, Ellen Freid became the second woman to disappear from the Clairemont area. She was talking on a public telephone at 2:00 AM. She witnessed a car passing by which looked suspicious to her and mentioned it to the person she was talking to on the phone. She had driven to the public phone and that is where the police last placed her. Her car was found at one end of Clairemont and it was locked. Some of her personal belongings were in the car. With the disappearance of Ellen Freid, law enforcement's concerns were heightened.

    All of the law enforcement agencies in the surrounding agencies, including Vermont, were actively investigating her disappearance. Both young women had ties to the area. It just defied probability that two women would vanish like that. On July 10th, 1985, twenty seven year old Eva Morris vanished from the highway. She was a single Mom who was on her way to Clairemont from Charlestown. They had a witness who placed her on the road hitch hiking. It was later that afternoon when her family and friends reported as missing. This was the third missing female in 14 months. The investigators began asking themselves what they were missing but began to suspect that they possibly had a serial killer working the area. Without a viable explanation as to why the women went missing, a wave of panic swept through the area. About a year and a half after the first girl went missing the initial fear bordering on terror subsided. Then the bodies began to turn up.

    On September 19th, 1985 a very significant development occurred. Ellen Freid's deceased body was found alongside the Sugar River in and amongst some trees and slight underbrush. The fact that the killer dumped Freid's body on the banks of the Sugar River puzzled investigators since it was 8 or 10 miles from where she was last seen. During the course of autopsy, it was determined that Ellen may have been stabbed although no one is really sure of that since the body was skeletonized by that point. On April 15th, 1986, a new victim surfaced in the Connecticut River Valley. The authorities got a call late in the afternoon that there was a homicide at the Moore residence. The victim's name was Linda Moore and she had been out sunning herself on that warm spring day. She got up and walked into her house and clearly someone walked in behind her and stabbed her to death. It was a vicious hard fought fight. Blood spatters and spray was everywhere.

    There were defensive wounds on her body and investigators knew she had put up a tough fight. Four days later another body turned up 30 miles away in Clairemont New Hampshire. The second of the three missing women had been discovered. On April 19, 1986, hikers in the woods found the deceased body of Bernice Gudermarsh. She had been missing for almost two years. Her body was found near the Sugar River, the exact same waterway where authorities found Ellen Freid's remains seven months earlier. An autopsy revealed similarities between Gudermarsh's murder and the murders of both Linda Moore and Ellen Freid. The authorities believe that all three deaths were caused by stab wounds. Six days later Eva Morris' body was found in West Unity New Hampshire. She had disappeared in July of 1985 and it was approximately 12 months later that her body was found. There was a certain amount of decomposition that took place but nevertheless the authorities determined that the cause of death was stab wounds.

    By this time the authorities was convinced that there was a serial killer working the area. The Eva Morris Investigation renewed interest in another body that was found on the same parcel of land five years earlier. Elizabeth Critchley's body was found in August of 1981 off a small logging trail. That made two bodies that turned up in Unity, New Hampshire. Before her body was found if there was ever any doubt that there was a serial killer working the area there was none now. Although the police were unable to establish a cause of death, the circumstances of Elizabeth Critchley's murder fit a profile of other women who turned up in the Connecticut River Valley. All four were available and somewhat vulnerable. Three of the victims were hitch hiking and one was on a public telephone at 2:00 AM. Anne Critchley says her sister, Elizabeth, was hitch hiking because she was such a trusting soul.

    She says once the body was found it was horrible and that her sister was supposedly wrapped in a 10' X 12' black plastic tarp. All four of the victims were found in a wooded area in a remote section off a dirt road and were not separated by a great distance. By the spring of 1987 a suspected serial killer had stabbed five women to death in the Connecticut River Valley. There was a general theme in the way the women were killed. According to Lynn Marie Carty, the women were all cut in the neck which is the way a soldier is taught to kill. It is very unlikely to have a serial killer who uses a knife. Three of the victims worked in hospitals of nursing homes. On January 10th, 1987, Barbara Agnew, another nurse, dissappeared while she was returning from a ski trip. Barbara had allegedly left the mountain at 10:00 PM, according to her sister Anne. There was a terrible snowstorm and it was fairly late at night and she pulled into the rest area at Whiteriver on I91 and simply vanished.

    By Sunday the police were contacted and she was classified as a missing person for sometime. Later when they found her car there was significant blood splatter in the car and that was the first clue that we were talking grave concerns. Nearly three months later, Barbara's corpse was discovered. There were very distinctive signature wounds. There was one to the neck that was a disabling wound and multiple stab wounds as well as self defense wounds. Barbara Agnew's murder was almost a carbon copy of Linda Moore's murder. There was no question that the killer would strike again, and he did. The next victim was a young woman driving home late at night on New Hampshire's Old Homestead Highway. On August 6th, 1988, Jane Boroski had pulled into Garmello's Market place in the town of Swansy. She was coming back from a Fair and it was about 12:30 AM. She was seven months pregnant at the time.

    She says it was real muggy and hot and they had a couple of vending machines so she got a soda and got back in her car. That is when she noticed a Jeep Wagoneer that pulled up beside her. She says she didn't think too much about it. The next thing she knows she sees him walking around the backside of her car. She says then she was scared. He opened the door and tried to grab her by the wrist and she pushed and kicked at him and started screaming and in fact screamed so loud that she broke the blood vessels in her eyes. The next thing she knows he took a knife out and put the knife against her neck and eventually overcame her and dragged her out of the car in the parking lot. He started stabbing her. He cut her neck and she ran but he tackled her down like a football player. He got her on the ground and proceeded to stab her. She says that all she can remember is trying to protect her baby by trying to maneuver such that when he stabbed he missed her belly. At that point in time Jane basically plays dead.

    She says he got up and walked away so cool and calm as if he was just going on with his business and then gets into his vehicle and departs the area. Jane then rolled over to hands and knees and she could see him as he drove by. She says that is a vision she will never forget. She was then able to get up and get back into her car and drive out looking for help. She says she remembers waking up in Intensive care and the Doctors describing her injuries which were a cut jugular vein, collapsed lungs, a cut tendon in her knee, a cut tendon in her thumb, and they estimated between 23 and 27 stab wounds. She is extremely fortunate that nothing hit vital organs that would have caused her death. She ended up having a "Blue" baby as a result of delivering two weeks early. She was born with no blood pressure so now she has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy. For Boroski the memories cut deeper than her wounds.

    Since the attack she has been in the hospital twice for mental breakdowns and now suffers depression and has been suicidal. She also suffers from compulsive disorders and has trust issues. She says she is not the same person she once was before the attack. Jane will never understand why she was the one who survived, especially since her savage assault was eerily similar to the six other women who were methodically slain in the Connecticut River Valley. In December 1988, 22 year old Michelle Ashley disappeared from Holioke Massachusetts. When the police arrived to investigate they found the Christmas presents all wrapped underneath the tree. Nothing was opened and there was spoiled food in the refrigerator. Before she vanished Michelle allegedly told her mother that if she was ever missing he killed me, referring to her husband, Viet Nam veteran Michael Nickalou. For 13 years the missing persons case stayed off the radar.

    The police interviewed Nickalou and his first response was that he didn't know who they were talking about. Lynn Marie Carty was convinced that Nickalou played a role in his wife's disappearance. She called Nickalou and told him that she was hired by his wife's mother to find his wife and her grand kids so where are they? He said the grand kids were great and that Michelle was a slut and she ran off with a drug dealer and then added "How did you find me"? In a twist that brings this story full circle, Nickalou was the same man who would later kill his next wife, his step Daughter, and himself in 2005. These violent deaths seemed to confirm Carty's research that Nickalou, who had a history of mental problems, was a very dangerous man. Carty says that his flying buddies in the war told her that he was in love with his knife and that he would land his helicopter in enemy territory, take out his knife leave them there in danger and say he was going hunting for humans.

    Here was a guy who had the background that fit the profile of a serial killer with the combination of a methodical mind and savage mind. Jane Boroski says Lynn Marie Carty had contacted her in the beginning of 2006 and told her that Michael Nickalou had killed himself. She says everything fit with him from the sketch to what is known of his personality. With Boroski's positive ID, Carty went to the Vermont and New Hampshire State police department. Sgt. Detective Steve Rowland says he was a person of interest to them and that Carty had built a circumstantial evidence case against him that put him in certain locations in certain vehicles and he will do whatever he can to follow up on that information. Michael Nickalou may have taken the secret of these vicious attacks to his grave. But until the police can solve these crimes the families of the victims will continue without closure. Anne Agnew says you need to know more than you ever wanted to know.

    To not have a conclusion to it it's like murder is free. Jane Boroski says she wants answers just like the other victims families want answers. Former Chief of Detectives Mike Prozzo says he just wishes they could find out who killed these people and why it happened. However, he says he is not sure that will ever happen. Which is what makes this story one of New England's greatest mysteries.

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