"She was very sweet, she loved animals. She was nice to everyone, she didn’t have a mean bone in her body. We were best friends, we did everything together."
- Judy's brother, Joe Chartier , http://concord-nh.patch.com/articles/30-years-after-his-sisters-disappearance-concord-man-seeks-answers
30 years ago on the night of June 5, Judy Chartier and her boyfriend went to a party in billerica, MA. she was 17 years old. the two had some sort of falling out. she drove him home to chelmsford, indicating she was returning to the party. she then disappeared without a trace. her family believe she was the victim of foul play, murdered by someone she knew. Judy Chartier and her car are still missing.
in 1982 when Judy disappeared, law enforcement was much more cavalier about missing teens and young adults. when the school/college aged were missing with no glaringly apparent signs of a crime having been committed, they were automatically dismissed as runaways. this was despite any evidence to the contrary such as close connection to family and friends and a contented school or job situation. in truth, then as now, the majority of the underaged reported missing by their 'caregivers' are runaways. the overwhelming majority of runaways return or are found so not much law enforcement attention was applied to such cases. there was no Amber Alert in 1982 and no focused police attention paid to adults missing under ill defined, perhaps enigmatic, but seemingly innocuous circumstances . persons legally of age have the right to disappear of their own volition.
today the missing of all ages have been drastically reassessed. adults and teens may be termed "missing and endangered", their photos and stories widely distributed in calls for information and witnesses. there are Silver Alerts for missing seniors. it is through the internet and the agitation of the families of and advocates for the murdered and missing that the Judy Chartiers have been given a long overdue voice - a voice that has redefined the investigation of not only the missing but the many unidentified john and jane does. sadly, there is many a case of a child deemed a runaway who was actually the victim of crime - and in some of these cases parents vociferously advocated for their missing, murdered child to no avail.
as one ME opined, in an explanation of the tragic state of coroner/ME offices in america, "The dead don't vote." he might well have added that neither do the suspiciously missing. and children, of course, cannot vote. the young, the dead presumably murdered, and the missing under suspicious circumstances, like Judy, require the attention, anger, and political activism of the living to obtain justice- to even be accorded the simple dignity of being reunited with their names , returned to their families. on the surface one would logically assume-perhaps indignantly demand- that this must be purely a non-political law enforcement issue. but that outlook is tragically naive or perhaps just the result of much disinformation.
sheriffs and coroners in many communities are elected positions- sometimes held for decades by one person or one party- often with no expertise or training required. it is very much a political issue that in the wrong or chronically inept hands can easily lead to grave injustice. the missing and unidentified in this country are at crisis proportions. budgetary considerations assure the resources in areas such as cold case and missing person investigation, expensive forensics, and identification of the dead are the first to be slashed or minimized. ME and corners offices are understaffed and often not peopled with competent, trained forensic specialists of any sort let alone doctors. causes of death can wrong- wrong and official creating legal nightmares for victims' families and the falsely accused. bodies are lost. evidence is compromised and goes missing in poorly maintained facilities that are mismanaged and inadequate. the unidentified who do have loved ones searching desperately for them can easily become Does, forever unknown, lost in a chaotic, inept bureaucratic limbo. sometimes a Doe is returned to the wrong family. sometimes a homicide victim is cremated before evidence is collected. sometimes homicides go undetected because of mistaken cause of death determinations.
and murderers go free perhaps to kill again.
with the ever expanding cultural interest in the minutiae of gruesome crimes -especially serial crimes- and with the formulation of criminal forensic and psychological theory and practice concerning such crimes (still under development in the 80's), the missing without apparent reason have been re-evaluated. news is national, universal, and 24/7. drama and reality programs dedicated to law enforcement and forensic crime solving are wildly popular. the public has been forced into awareness that there are humans, almost exclusively male, who prey on other humans, almost exclusively young females. if this sort of predator leaves no traces of a disturbance behind and if bodies, the primary evidence in such crimes, are not found in a reasonable amount of time, law enforcement is left with very little that can lead to a conviction or even a suspect. time is of the utmost importance in a suspicious disappearance and in the solving of homicides. time is the enemy of resolution. time is often the enemy of justice.
since Judy went missing, law enforcement has thankfully become much more aware of the tragic possibilities and the real not presumed nature of stranger abductions. the result is that it has become much easier to compel LEO involvement with those who can be said to be missing under circumstances in contradiction to their known behavior. the use of more accessible, more interlinked data by law enforcement also allows for quicker action and more focused application of effort in disappearances. connected patterns in disappearances and serious crimes are more easily discerned. the value of increasingly more refined and accurate DNA testing is obvious.
the internet has encouraged and seen flourish the involvement of average citizens, including the families of victims, in long unsolved cold cases of homicides and missing persons. none of the advances in technology and realignments in attitudes toward the missing could be brought to bear when Judith Chartier did not return home 30 years ago. even though it appears the authorities did indeed view her disappearance as suspicious, they lacked the more nationally interconnected crime databases law enforcement has available today. it was easier then for a crime to be isolated to one community. the investigation of murders, serial sex crimes, and the missing were greatly hindered by the linkage blindness that arose from long standing lack of inter-community, inter-jurisdiction cooperation in law enforcement. cases that now go national instantly would have remained purely local, perhaps hardly reaching beyond a town let alone attracting state wide interest. now the entire country is involved especially when a young child goes missing.
and today we and our possessions such as cars leave far more complex, accessible trails due to the widespread use of data technology. few people use cash. we're encouraged to use computers and mobile devices for all our personal and business needs. our official contacts with the government and businesses assures we have a cyber trail of activity everywhere we go, everywhere we buy something or request information.
what 17 year old girl today wouldn't be texting or tweeting madly to potentially 100s of cyber friends from a party or in the aftermath of a boyfriend/ girlfriend spat? access to a teenager's cell phone activity would undoubtably provide a wealth of information about with whom they are in contact let alone pinpoint where they were probably last reliably located.
according to the US Department of Justice, each year 800,000 (2,000+ per day) children under the age of 18 are reported missing by their caregivers. "It is important to recognize that nearly all of the caretaker missing children (... 99.8 percent) were returned home alive or located by the time the study data were collected. Only a fraction of a percent (0.2 percent...) of all caretaker missing children had not returned home or been located, and the vast majority of these were runaways from institutions." (NISMART)
200,000 of the 800,000 were abducted by family members, 58,000 by non-family members. of the non family member abductions, 115 are what the Department of Justice terms "stereotypical kidnappings"- what the public tends to think of as sexually motivated stranger abductions of very young children. the rather disturbing truth is that this perception is completely false. the majority of "stereotypical kidnappings" are not of young children but of teenagers. "...young children, despite the publicity accorded their abduction, are not the most frequent victims of nonfamily abduction. Eighty-one percent of nonfamily abducted children and 58 percent of stereotypical kidnapping victims were age 12 or older. Nonfamily abduction victims overall were particularly concentrated among the oldest groups, with 59 percent being 15–17 years old."(NISMART pg. 8.). non family member abductions include not only victims of sexual predators and/or exploiters, but the kidnapping of the underaged by boyfriends, kidnapping of children for ransom and babies abducted to be kept permanently by their kidnappers.
although the majority of all reported missing children are male, this is in proportion to their representation in the population. where it gets really skewered is the non-family abductions which overwhelmingly involve females. "Girls were the predominant victims of nonfamily abductions overall and of stereotypical kidnappings as well (65 percent and 69 percent, respectively), reflecting the frequency of sexual assault as a motive for many nonfamily abductions. (NISMART, p.8).this is in direct opposition to the heavy media focus on males who prey on very young male children. as with non family abductions, the primary targets of male child rapers-who represent the majority of child rapers- are female children. teenagers-female teenagers- are the primary targets of stereotypical kidnappings.
the "stranger danger" kidnappings parents most worry about and mostly associate with young children in reality primarily involve the abduction of teenage girls.
in 40% of the 115 stereotypical kidnappings per year, the child involved is killed. another 4% are never recovered. 50% are sexually assaulted and 33% physically assaulted. a weapon was used in 50% of these kidnappings. 75% of the abductors are male and 79% commit the crime alone. by definition, stereotypical kidnappings are perpetrated by strangers or 'slight acquaintances' however "[b]ecause kidnapping prevention focuses on the danger of strangers, it may be surprising that the majority of nonfamily abduction victims (53 percent) are abducted by persons known to the child: 38 percent of nonfamily abducted children were abducted by a friend or long-term acquaintance, 5 percent by a neighbor, 6 percent by persons of authority, and 4 percent by a caretaker or babysitter ... Strangers abducted 37 percent of the nonfamily abduction victims, and slight acquaintances ...abducted 8 percent." NISMART,P.8
although it is statistically most likely Judy Chartier was, if killed, killed by someone she knew, there is still the outside possibility she was abducted by a stranger. the chelmsford police were contacted by federal agents when a man dubbed the Mall Passer, arrested by the Secret Service for counterfeiting and 'passing' his fake bills, turned out to be a prolific, brutal serial rapist and murderer. while executing warrants in search of james mitchell "mike" debardeleben's printing press and plates, disturbing amounts of suspicious writings, recordings, explicit polaroids,"rape kits", guns, stolen (women's) licenses and license plates, and police equipment were turned up. maps of chelmsford and a receipt for a local hotel dated june 4,1982 the day before judy disappeared, were eventually found in the mountains of evidence confiscated. mike debardeleben denied involvement in judy's disappearance and refused to cooperate with the chelmsford police.
debardeleben was that rare serial killer who once caught clams up. usually they're more like bundy, an insufferable chatty cathy narcissist- a pompous, noxious gas bag who never seemed to shut the fuck up. bundy was always trying to engage someone, anyone on his most favorite topic: himself and his bottomless well of knowledge and expertise. he prattled endlessly about his own crimes in a smarmy, disturbing whispery 3rd person voice. he offered himself up as an authority on serial murderers even though for the longest time he maintained he wasn't one. half the joy and relief brought on by his execution was in never having to again hear the narcissistic drivel pouring directly out of his serial celebtard pie hole.
"He[Bundy] wasn't as smart as people think he is. I'm smarter than Theodore Bundy.", Mike DeBardeleben. (Lethal Shadow, pg.234.)
debardeleben was a somewhat different sort. so consumed with contempt for the police and authorities, he refused to cooperate in any manner whereas bundy craved the endless supply of attention. no way he would have let a chance slip by to have a captive audience to manipulate. even bundy gave shit up eventually- a trickle here and there to try to save his own ass. debardelbeden could give a fuck about attention from cops ,experts, and writers. there was little incentive within him or outside of himself that compelled him to engage with those he so thoroughly loathed. he was given 100s of years in prison and 2 life sentences, primarily for his counterfeiting offenses not for raping and killing women. nothing could make him deign to cooperate with what mr. paranoid believed to be his main persecutors in society's conspiracy against and long campaign of "shitting on" mike bedelebaden.
he is, curiously, the known but unknown quantity. we'll never know the extent of his horrific crimes. experts consider his near 20 year controlled rampage against women "unmatched anywhere for its sadism, its scope and his success at eluding detection." he was certainly the worst of the worst: an anger-excitation rapist and unbelievably vicious sexual sadist who is used by FBI profiler roy hazelwood as the standard by which to judge all the other criminal sexual sadists. debardelben's extensive list of known crimes include confidence scams, kidnapping and extortion of bank employees, counterfeiting and passing along with sex crimes and murder. in several instances, he had accomplices, including his wives. for being such an extraordinary example of deviancy and pure evil, mike debardelben died in custody in january of 2011 and it was barely noticed.
even though he refused to spill, it is from the secret service's incredible, gargantuan haul of evidence that profilers learned so much about debardelbeden and his criminality. not a big talker in captivity, when free he was a prolific writer , penning endless cliff notes on how he could better rape and kill women. a prodigious and exacting planner, he scripted and acted out rape/murder scenarios with his wives . sometimes he recorded solo performances - taking the parts of both perpetrator and victim. in his arrogance that he would never be caught, he was a hoarder of surreal proportions, keeping fantastic troves of his own murder memorabilia scattered across locations and states. some evidence that could easily have led to more charges and identified more victims was discarded early in the investigation by agents looking only for counterfeiting equipment. worn sometimes bloody women's clothing , wads of tape containing hair, and sundry items overlooked, in retrospect, were probably primary evidence in the murder and rape of women. that debardeleben was primarily investigated by the Secret Service and not the FBI, who are the experts on serial killers (the FBI refused to be involved even though the treasury detectives, from the evidence, believed correctly that debardeleben was something far worse than just a forger), surely had some impact on the case , the treatment of the suspect, and the disposition of the evidence. the secret service did catch a very dangerous man and helped put him away forever though. the importance of that should not be understated.
debardeleben although convicted and sent to rot in prison, is, in many senses, the one that got away . he's rarely mentioned in the media- so generally obsessed with serial killers- and only one book has been produced about his crimes. the secret service who brought him to what little justice could be had are not known to be as publicity driven and suffused as the FBI. he was only convicted let alone connected to a minute portion of the crimes of which he is suspected. when debardeleben was arrested, he was not suspected in rapes or murders. he was only known to be a counterfeiter. if it wasn't for mike debardeleben, the Mall Passer, it's doubtful mike debardeleben, the serial killer, would ever have been apprehended. he wasn't even imagined. he travelled great distances raping, killing, passing funny money. if he hadn't kept all his receipts , maps, photos, and stolen trinkets from his crimes, neither he nor any one killer would have been connected to any of the sex crimes of which he is suspect.
as it concerns Judy Chartier, it is worth noting, however, that in the abductions and murders he is known to have been involved with, debardeleben took no great pains to hide their cars. their bodies were concealed but easily recovered. but, because only a portion of his crimes have been uncovered and linked to him, it is impossible to say if this is significant. debardeleben made extensive jottings concerning how to improve upon his own 'performance' and efficacy in executing his crimes. that this form of self improvement and assessment was indeed very successful is born out by the fact that for 18 years he remained largely free, raping and killing women into the double digits- crimes he was never suspected of. he was investigated and apprehended as a forger and counterfeit passer not as a serial killer or serial rapist.
there is some speculation that Judy was being used in some manner by shady characters involved with drugs. she was hanging with a rough crowd. at the time of her disappearance, she was also the victim of serious harassment from a man at her work. again, her family believe that she knew or that some people she was involved with knew the person or persons who perhaps murdered her. without Judy or her car or a witness coming forward there is simply no actionable evidence to back up any scenario.
anonymous contacts to the Chartier family have indicated that they know what happened to Judy but fear for their lives if they come forward.
both of judy's parents have now died, never knowing what happened to their daughter. her brother believes her to be dead, murdered in 1982. leaving a family and loves ones suspended in the hell of not knowing is a cruelty whose breadth and depth is only understood by those who have experience it.
Judy's 48th birthday is this coming August 12th.
Judith Ann Chartier's missing pages:
https://www.findthemissing.org/cases/5940/0/ ( her NamUs page)
Between 80,000 and 100,000 cases of missing adults and children are entered into NCIC( FBI administered National Crime Information Center) each day. half of these are considered cold cases wherein the missing person had not been in contact for a year or more.
NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) entries as of April 2012:
The missing persons database contains 7,452 entries.(NCIC active missing entries = 83,505)
The unidentified persons database has 8,385 records.(NCIC unidentified entries = 7,740)
There are believed to over 40,000 John and Jane Does buried or cremated by american MEs and coroners without having been identified. 1,000 more are added to this number each year.
there are 3/4 of a million registered sex offenders in the united states as of january of 2012. this is an increase of 23% over the previous 5 years. according to US department of justice statistics, in 67% of sexual assaults the victim is under the age of 18.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.com/
National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, and Thrown Away Children, US Department of Justice/ Office of Justice Programs/Office of Juvenile Justice and and Delinquency Prevention, NISMART, October, 2002.
Michaud, Stephen G., Lethal Shadow, New York: Onyx, 1994.