By Jo-Anne MacKenzie, firstname.lastname@example.org
SALEM — Nearly 22 years after John Pond Sr. was found fatally stabbed in his Arthur Street home, the case has been solved.
But there will be no arrest or trial because the killer died in 2004, according to N.H. Attorney General Michael Delaney.
Mark Craig was long suspected as the perpetrator, but police could never collect enough evidence to support his arrest, according to a press release just issued by Delaney's office.
The Salem Police Department reopened the investigation into the 26-year-old man's death in 2009. A year later, the state's Cold Case Unit also become involved.
Salem police and State Cold Case Unit officers worked together, conducting interviews, doing forensic testing and investigative work. Ultimately, they collected enough evidence to support Craig's arrest, but he died of a drug overdose years earlier.
The state now regards the case as "solved," but with no arrest or prosecution.
Pond was stabbed multiple times in the chest and abdomen. His sister found his body on the morning of Sept. 19, 1990, in his home at 9 Arthur St. Pond had been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot by a Lawrence police officer in May 1984.
Pond had a criminal record dating back before he was shot in Lawrence — and continuing after he was paralyzed. That lifestyle further complicated the murder investigation because he associated with a number of people whose criminal records surpassed his own and might have had motive to kill him, police said.
While police had several potential suspects, some of Pond's relatives believed from the start that Mark Craig was the killer. Craig had been involved with a woman who had dated Pond's brother — and with whom she had two children. When Michael Pond got out of jail about a week before John Pond's murder, he and the woman rekindled their relationship, although she also was seeing Craig.
Craig allegedly was irate about the renewed romance and threatened to kill Michael Pond and the woman they both dated, Paula Gauthier. The night before John Pond's body was discovered, Craig was looking for Gauthier and Michael Pond.
John Pond and Craig were not strangers. In fact, Pond had told several people he was afraid of Craig although he had let Craig stay overnight on occasion.
In the weeks after the murder, Michael Pond and other family members continued to accuse Craig of John Pond's murder. Witnesses claimed Craig said he was going to kill Michael Pond and his whole family, blaming them for pointing police in his direction.
When the investigation was revived in 2009, police discovered the state medical examiner's office had retained a vial of Craig's blood after an autopsy in 2004. Ultimately, that sample matched blood found on Pond's kitchen floor.
Last year, witnesses were brought before an investigative grand jury and more forensic work was done, specifically footwear impressions.
Police had collected bloody shoe impressions at the murder scene and sent them to the FBI for analysis. Although the prints matched sneakers Craig was known to have worn, investigators couldn't find Craig's shoes. But more testing last year determined the prints were made by shoes worn by a single person and the shoes matched those worn by Craig.
There is no credible evidence anyone but Craig killed John Pond, Delaney's release states.
"Craig had a motive and the opportunity to kill John Pond and his DNA was found at the murder scene, mixed with the victim's blood.