VSP Press Release - Cold Case Solved, Tragic Murder of Sarah Hunter
STATE OF VERMONT
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
VERMONT STATE POLICE
Cold Case Solved, Tragic Murder of Sarah Hunter
Lieutenant Tim Oliver, Vermont State Police, C Troop Bureau of Criminal Investigation Commander
Shaftsbury, VT – 07/02/12 - On June 30, 2012 an arrest warrant was issued for David Allan Morrison, age 52, for Murder in the First Degree a violation the 1986 statute of Title 13 Vermont Statutes Annotated 2311 in the death of Sarah Hunter.
Sarah Hunter, age 36 of Manchester, VT, was reported missing on September 19, 1986. Subsequently her vehicle was found parked at a gas station on Vt. Rte7-A in Manchester Center VT. At the time of her disappearance Sarah was employed as a golf pro at the Manchester Country Club. Due to the suspicious circumstances, the Manchester Police Department and the Vermont State Police immediately began an investigation into Sarah's disappearance. Despite an extensive search, Sarah’s body wasn’t located until November 27, 1986, in a wooded area adjacent to a corn field in Pawlet, VT.
Investigation by the Vermont State Police determined that Sarah was the victim of a homicide. Through the course of the investigation, many individuals were interviewed, including Morrison, who was then employed at the gas station nearby to where Sarah’s vehicle was located. Morrison was known to be working the night of her disappearance. Detectives interviewed Morrison on two occasions, once in 1986 and again in 1987, however there was insufficient evidence at the time for arrest him for Sarah’s murder.
Morrison left Vermont in January 1988. Later that same year he was arrested for and plead guilty to Kidnapping, Attempted Murder and Sexual Assault of a female in Chula Vista, CA that occurred on August 19, 1988. He is currently incarcerated and serving a 20 year to life sentence at the Corcoran State Penitentiary, CA.
In the 25 years since her tragic death, detectives with the Vermont State Police continued to investigate Sarah’s murder, looking for additional evidence and information; including a 1988 search of Morrison’s abandoned 1968 Chevy Impala. Evidence gathered led investigators to identify Morrison as a primary suspect, however the evidence was insufficient to arrest Morrison for Sarah’s murder.
In December 2009, the Vermont State Police was contacted by the National City, CA Police Department regarding an open homicide investigation in which Morrison was a suspect. Based on information obtained during interviews with Morrison by the National City Police Department, the Vermont State Police renewed their suspicions that Morrison was responsible for the death of Sarah Hunter.
In coordination with the State’s Attorney’s Office, detectives with the Vermont State Police sent evidence from Sarah’s case to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, VA. It was believe there were sufficient advances in DNA analysis that would confirm that the forensic evidence gathered from Morrison’s vehicle belonged to Sarah. During mitochondrial DNA testing, the hair from Morrison’s vehicle matched the mitochondrial DNA to Sarah Hunter’s sister’s saliva, which is significant as all maternally related individuals are expected to have the same mitochondrial DNA profile.
Based on the DNA results and evidence collected through the investigation, detectives applied for and were granted an arrest warrant for David Allan Morrison for Murder in the First Degree in the 1986 death of Sarah Hunter. Extradition arrangements will be coordinated through the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s office with the State of California.
The Vermont State Police appreciates and thanks the hard work and dedication of the Manchester Police Department, Detective Sergeant Helaine Gaiotti, Retired Detective Sergeant Tom Truex, Detective Sergeant Daniel Elliott, Sergeant David Bavencoff of the National City Police Department,and Bennington County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“In all cold case homicide investigations, it is important to help families who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, to be able to help bring closure to their loss,” said Lt. Timothy Oliver. “Detectives with the Vermont State Police will never rest in solving the terrible crime of homicide, no matter how many years it takes.”
If you have any information about this case or any unsolved homicides in Vermont, please call Vermont State Police Tip Line 802-241-5355. Or submit an anonymous secure tip by texting the letters VTIPS plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or online at www.vtips.info.
For any other questions, please contact the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s office at 802-442-8116.