The kidnapping and murder of Sarah Hunter has been a mystery in sleepy Manchester for decades.
"And then it really hit home that not only was she missing but, my God, she'd been murdered. That just doesn't happen here," said Linda Spence, the Manchester town clerk.
Spence knew Hunter, a golf pro at Manchester Country Club, where Spence's daughter took lessons.
"She was just a nice, outgoing, very gregarious, caring person that had this incredible desire to help young people," Spence said.
But one day in September 1986, Hunter, who was 36 years old at the time, didn't show up for work-- something so out of the ordinary, her co-workers called police.
"Very very unlike her," said John Ottaviano of the Manchester Country Club. "So my first thought I would say is somehow did she forget where she was supposed to be that day? It would be totally unlike her to not let someone know."
Police found Hunter's car abandoned at a gas station. It's now a Gulf, but 25 years ago it was Leo's Citgo. Her body was discovered two months later near a cornfield in Pawlet.
"In the 25 years since her tragic death, detectives with Vermont State Police continued to investigate Sarah's murder, looking for additional evidence and information," Vt. State Police Lt. Tim Oliver said.
Including a 1988 search of a vehicle owned by David Allen Morrison. He was questioned after her disappearance because he worked at another gas station just 170 feet from the where Hunter's car was found. He denied any connection, but the search of his car proved otherwise.
"Evidence gathered lead investigators to identify Morrison as a primary suspect. However, the evidence was insufficient to arrest Morrison for Sarah's murder," Oliver said.
But not anymore. New advances in DNA analysis prompted police to take another look.
"The hair from Morrison's vehicle matched the mitochondrial DNA obtained from Sarah's sister's saliva, which is significant as all maternally related individuals are expected to have the same mitochondrial DNA," Oliver said.
Morrison moved to California in 1988. That same year he was arrested for the sexual assault, kidnapping and attempted murder of a California woman. According to court papers, he once stated to a California detective he "doesn't intend on harming them (girls) but things just go bad... I'm like a car without a driver -- not in control." Court papers also show Morrison is connected to two other similar sexual assaults and abductions in New England in 1981.
"I think it's justice for Sarah, who certainly did not deserve to have her life taken away from her at such a young age," Spence said. "And she was so giving and so good to the community."
Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage expects Morrison to be extradited to Vermont sometime in the next 90 days.
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