In 1967 I moved into a large house with 15 other undergraduate girls. I was the only sophomore let in because I had moved in with a junior. The house had a large kitchen and one bedroom off the kitchen. The rest of us were upstairs on the second and third floor. Jane Britton, a senior, lived in that room off the kitchen. I would often come down in the morning and find Jane smoking her French cigarettes. She seemed everything I didn’t feel I was–sophisticated, bohemian, aloof(at least to me!) and brilliant.
In January 1969 Jane was murdered in the apartment she lived in after graduating from Radcliffe in 1967. It was a dreadful crime, very unusual for Cambridge, and many theories were put forward. Jane studied anthropology, and rumors abounded that it was a ritual murder connected with her studies. Everyone assumed someone who knew her had murdered her. It went unsolved until last week.
Last week detectives tied her murder, nearly fifty years later, to a now deceased serial rapist murderer using DNA from his brother. All the rumors which often seemed to implicate Jane in her own death were put to rest. She was a victim of a senseless crime by a stranger who broke into her apartment. I grieve, of course, as I remember her again. But I am relieved that it was no one she knew, that it wasn’t connected to her work, and that the detectives were persistent for all this time. I will always remember her sitting in that kitchen, self possessed, smoking her Gauloises.