Why has this New Bedford Highway serial killer never been caught?
It’s been thirty years since the New Bedford Highway murders happened, and yet, a lot of questions still surround the case. Who committed all of these murders? Why did they occur in this particular area, and why did they suddenly stop almost a year later? Families & friends of the victims still demand answers, but still, there are none to be had.
Unfortunately, many serial killer cases that happened in the 1980s have gone unsolved & untouched because of a lack of technology & evidence during & after the case. Even though the victims’ bodies were found, the case remains virtually unsolved.
So why has the New Bedford Highway serial killer never gotten caught? Let’s dig into it and see if we can untangle the events.
Victims of the New Bedford Highway Killer
The New Bedford Highway serial killer is responsible for nine known deaths involving women and two other disappearances in New Bedford, MA. The events happened between March 1988 and April 1989, and the killer is suspected of assaulting several other women.
The killer’s victims were known sex workers or struggled with substance abuse. The women lived in New Bedford but were found in nearby towns like Dartmouth, Freetown, and Westport. These areas ran along Route 140.
The women’s age range varied from nineteen to thirty-six years old, and after they disappeared, they were often found only days later. A victim’s sister named Judy DeSantos recently spoke on the night of her sister’s disappearance.
She knew something was wrong when her sister Nancy Paiva didn’t come home on the night of her disappearance. Three weeks later, she was found off of Interstate 195 in Dartmouth. Paiva had a drug addiction during that time, so it fit within the M.O. of the other women.
DeSantos mentioned: “Every time I go by there, I’m always looking.” She went on to say, “Somebody thought she was trash and could dispose of her so easily. It makes me angry.”
New Bedford Killer suspects
When the killing spree finally ended, police found the bodies of nine additional women. To date, there are connections to the case, but no one has ever been officially charged for these heinous crimes.
While there hasn’t been a significant break in the New Bedford Highway serial killer case since the late 80s, there have been named suspects that have piqued law enforcement’s interest. Throughout the years, multiple men’s identifications have been presented to local sex workers, and some have recognized or recalled suspicious behavior during the time of the disappearances.
Other suspects have been indicted of unrelated murders in the area but have also been suspected of being involved in the highway murders. Again, no one has been named a definite suspect in the New Bedford Highway Murders, but with advances in technology, that might change in the future.
Podcasts, novels, and an upcoming documentary
Since the disappearances & killings of the women, the attention the case has received is profound. So much so, they’ve been covered in documentaries & podcasts along the way. Podcasts like Dread: The Unsolved, True Crime All The Time Unsolved, Wicked Crime, Killer Babes, and Boston Confidential Beantown’s True Crime have all covered the case.
Also, a novel has been written by Maureen Boyle called Shallow Graves, which covers the disappearances of the women, how law enforcement handled the case as a whole, and where it stands today.
Finally, a documentary called The Highway Murders is currently in production, but the release is unclear. The documentary will take the victims’ cases on-screen to detail what happened. Hopefully, it will shed some light on whether the cases are still being pursued and if law enforcement is taking the necessary actions to catch the New Bedford Highway serial killer.