View single post by Arnold_OldSchool
 Posted: Sun Dec 23rd, 2018 07:01 am
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Joined: Wed Sep 28th, 2011
Posts: 1080

On Christmas morning 2004, Roland Berstecher went to his mother's apartment and found her bruised, bloodied body, naked from the waist down, stuffed halfway under a stove.

According to the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Alexandria Berstecher was electrocuted by wires under the stove. She had numerous bruises on her body, and when the stove was removed, bloody hand prints streaked the wall behind it.

Roland Berstecher said Groton Town police brought him to the police station soon after he found his dead mother and grilled him for more than eight hours, at times demanding a confession. The week after the death, a police department dispatcher said the death was ruled a suicide. In December 2005 a Groton Town detective told the group the death would likely be ruled an accident."

This took place one town over from where I live and has not been mentioned in the news or local paper since 2007. The police stated that the case remains open but suspended after they exhausted all leads and interviewed all possible witnesses. Because Alexandria's death is still listed as "undetermined" and was never officially ruled a homicide it isn't listed on any of CT's unsolved crime websites. If anyone can find any further information please share!

Here's what we know:

Roland Berstecher moved his 89 year old mother, Alexandria, into Poquonnock Village Apartments in 1993. A widowed Navy wife, she suffered from arthritis and glaucoma. The 97-unit apartment building is less than five miles from her son's Phillips Avenue home.

Roland took his mother grocery shopping every week and drove her to the bank monthly to get a money order for her rent. Alexandria kept a written log of the visits and the daily calls she received from her son and his partner of 21 years, Joann Degenhart. The only time she talked about suicide was that “she'd kill herself if Roland stopped coming to see her,” a friend told police. “She talked about him all the time. She was also constantly stating that she had given Roland money,” the woman said of Alexandria, who lived off Social Security and her late husband's Navy pension.

Roland was a cosigner on his mother's checks and helped manage her finances. His mother suffered from arthritis, anxiety, high blood pressure and heartburn and had been diagnosed with colon cancer two years before.

At the time of Alexandria's death there were two registered sex offenders living on her floor. Alexandria lived in apartment 307. A quick search on the CT sex offender registry shows that there is currently a registered sex offender living in Apartment 301. He was 67 at the time of the murder and was convicted of 1st degree sexual assault 14 years earlier, in 1990. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post his name here, but a quick search of the address should show you (1039 Poquonnock Road, Groton CT). So far I haven't had any luck finding the details of his rape conviction but I'd be interested to see if they are similar in any way to this case.

According to Roland, his mother didn't join them for Christmas Eve dinner because her arthritis made it difficult for her to use their bathroom, which is located upstairs. The police say that Roland told them that he lied to his mother and told her that he had to work on Christmas Eve and that Joann didn't want her coming over because she could be “unsociable” and often banged into things because of her glaucoma.

Roland states that the last time he spoke to his mother was by phone at 3PM on Christmas Eve. He says that he had dinner with Joann, her son Edward and his girlfriend Jennifer and that afterwards they watched two movies before going to bed.

Alexandria's downstairs neighbor reported hearing loud banging sounds coming from Alexandria's apartment that night. She said that she had heard loud noises above her before but never to that extent and that they usually took place on the weekends after midnight. She says that she considered calling the police but after banging on the ceiling with a broom the noises stopped.

At about 12:10 p.m. on Christmas Day Roland went to bring his mother lasanga and Christmas presents. He rang the downstairs buzzer but there was no answer so he entered the lobby using a spare key.

Alexandria did not respond to knocks on her locked door and Roland did not have a key for that door. As he grew more concerned he banged harder, attracting the attention of a neighbor who knew him. She volunteered to get the superintendent to unlock the apartment.

The usually tidy apartment was a mess. Her small dog was in there alone and Alexandria's bed was unmade. Two chairs and her walker lay on their sides.

Roland entered to find his mother's legs and lower torso sticking out from where the stove drawer had been. A button-down cardigan covered her top half, but she wore no pants or underwear. She was bloodied, bruised and had a broken rib.

Berstecher called Joann, a nurse, and told the superintendent to call 911. He then took a washcloth from the bathroom to cover his mother's genitals. Police arrived within minutes and taped off the scene.

Swabs taken from Alexandria's body found no seminal fluid or other evidence of rape or physical assault. The apartment complex was equipped with security cameras, but there were no VHS tapes inside. A canvass of the apartment building produced no further clues and fingerprints taken from the scene were little help to investigators. The chairs in the apartment appeared tipped over, with no visible marks on the chairs or walls that would indicate they had been thrown violently.

The white Hotpoint stove was found to be in perfect working order except that someone had removed its lower drawer, unplugged the stove, and removed the electrical cover for the outlet, exposing the electrical contacts.

There were other strange signs — hair stuck to her elbows, bruises on her right arms, legs and left hand, as well as numerous cuts and abrasions. Her doctor told police that at her age, she would bruise easily. Hair found on her elbow did not prove to be significant to the investigation. Blood found in the apartment and bruises and scratch marks, he said, could be from the spasms she would have had during the electrocution.

A $359 money order for rent was missing from her apartment. Roland says that police never asked the family if any items were missing but that a large potted cactus was gone.
According to Roland he was identified as the main suspect and feels that as a result the police didn't fully pursue other potential leads. Alexandria's neighbors expressed anger and frustration over the lack of information given to them surrounding her death and whether or not they are at risk. Some of them told police that the superintendent had a drinking and gambling problem and that he had come through their locked doors unannounced, sometimes in the middle of the night.

So what do you think happened to Alexandria?

If it was a murder staged to look like a suicide or accident, why leave her half naked?

Why did the loud noises stop as soon as the neighbor banged on the ceiling with a broom? If the noises were from a struggle, wouldn't knowing that her neighbors could hear her make Alexandria struggle even harder?

If she was wearing a cardigan that implies that this didn't take place late at night, so when do you think she was murdered?

Lastly, how do you get someone under the stove and successfully electrocute them without electrocuting yourself?


April 18 2015
"It was four days before Christmas. As the story would soon be told in news accounts, he made a stop on a dirt road off Georgia 82 and an old TV console caught his eye.

He walked over to inspect the find.

Inside, there was the black steel suitcase sloppily sealed with cement. Curious, the man pried it open. The girl had been wrapped in a blanket, stuffed in a gym bag and placed in the tiny steel tomb.

The trucker cried like a child.

Speaking with the Associated Press a few days later, then-Ware County Sheriff Herbert Bond said the state crime lab determined the child had been dead for a month or two. Thought to be about 3, she was 2-foot-9 and weighed maybe 30 pounds.

She didn’t seem to have been shot or stabbed, Bond said at the time."

"The investigator saw how well the child was made up, how pretty she looked. He thought about how long it must’ve taken. Somehow, in spite of the decomposition and the lack of dignity in how she was left with the trash, Herrin said he couldn’t help but think someone loved her."
A logging truck driver who stepped into the woods, near an isolated garbage dump in Ware County, Georgia, to relieve himself discovered the girl's body when he became curious about an old television console laying nearby. The console broke open when he kicked it over - revealing a black metal suitcase hidden inside. The body was placed in a gym bag, then in a cement-filled metal suitcase. The suitcase was wrapped with silver duct tape, encased in a plastic sheet and hidden inside the television console nailed shut with plywood.

An autopsy was inconclusive because of the decomposition of her body. Investigators also don't know if she might have been alive when sealed inside the suitcase.