Tracking Down a Killer: Detective closing in on cold case

Blackstone Valley

PAWTUCKET, R.I (WPRI) – Pawtucket Detective Susan Cormier says she’s about to present evidence to the Attorney General on a 27-year-old murder investigation.

It’s a significant step toward justice for a family that’s been waiting for that news since March 13, 1991. That’s the day Wendy Madden’s body was found strangled behind a Middle Street bar called Jan’s Place. Ever since, police have tried to track down her killer.

Detective Cormier said she is limited in what she can reveal about her progress, but believes she will close the case.

“I’m quite close to hopefully presenting the case to the Attorney General’s office, and I’m pretty confident I’ve done my due diligence on this case,” she said.

Police have long known Madden left her home at 53 Cross Street in Central Falls and told her mother she was going to buy cigarettes.

Since Cormier took over the investigation more than 5 years ago, she has tracked Madden’s trail from Cross Street to a Broad Street convenience store before she ultimately was found behind Jan’s Place. 

The bar was demolished years ago. It’s now an empty plot surrounded by chain link fence. 

Over time memories have faded and names have changed. Cormier said it’s one of the many challenges of solving a case this old.

Finding a Resolution

John Madden has not given up on finding his sister’s killer. The Pawtucket resident remembers Madden as his mischievous little sister.

“Wendy always set me up and said ‘oh, Johnny did it’,” Madden said while standing outside the Pawtucket Police Department.

Madden admits he had a falling out with his sister before her death, but knew she was facing hard times. 

Then the call came.

“I either thought, ok shes either in the morgue or she’s in prison,” Madden recalled.

He wonders if his sister would be a mother or a grandmother is she was still alive. 

Madden stays in constant contact with police, hoping one day he’ll know who killed Wendy.

“That person is a monster. That person is a heathen. He’s a monster,” he says. “They killed the baby of the family.”

The Detective

On her desk, Susan Cormier has a picture of Wendy Madden. It’s a reminder to stay focused on the investigation while still tackling her daily responsibilities.

When Cormier was first handed the 27-year-old cold case, she says the files were dusty and out of order. Cormier started all over again.

“It’s very similar to someone handing you a puzzle and dumping the puzzle out on the table but taking away the box with a picture,” she said.

She re-interviewed every witness and tracked every movement Wendy made.

“I have read over my files over and over and over again. There are things you pick up on,” Cormier said. “The first time you read it may not have meant something to you but once you interview 10 more people now it makes sense.”

It’s that dedication John Madden has appreciated from afar.

“[She’s] like the lone ranger,” Madden said. “He never stuck around for his thank you or to be thanked or to be rewarded. Well, she’s kind of like that.”

Cormier wouldn’t reveal what she’s presenting the Attorney General, but she’s confident there will be justice. 

“I want that person to be looking over their shoulder every day, waiting for the police to come knock on their door,” she said.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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