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Dorchester con charged with 1992 South End murder

When James Witkowski, 42, was sentenced to 18 months in jail last summer for violating the terms of an assault-and-battery conviction - following earlier convictions that included drug distribution - he had to supply a DNA sample.

The sample matched DNA found on the body of Lena Bruce after she was raped and suffocated in her South End apartment on July 12, 1992. Today, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office announced Witkowski faces a charge of first-degree murder for her death.

Bruce, 21, a Philadelphia native, had graduated with honors with a degree in electrical engineering from Tufts University just two months before her death.

At a press conference today, DA Dan Conley said:

Despite an extensive investigation by police and prosecutors in the days and weeks that followed, there were no witnesses and no leads. The case was highlighted in the media and by Lena’s friends and family. Even years after her death, generations of investigators continued to appeal to the public and sift through the evidence for anything that would identify her killer. Despite their best efforts, Lena’s murder went unsolved - until now. ...

As far as anyone can tell, Witkowski was a stranger to Lena Bruce. At the time of her murder, he had only a minor record of larceny-related offenses and there was nothing to link him to the crime. But Boston Police detectives assigned to the case collected and processed the crime scene evidence carefully. They stored that evidence under laboratory conditions for more than two decades. And as a result, we have today what they couldn’t imagine in 1992 - DNA evidence that identifies James Witkowski to the exclusion of any other suspect, recovered from two locations on Lena Bruce's body ...

This break led to a blizzard. Some 58 exhibits went before the grand jury. Investigators travelled to multiple states, interviewing and re-interviewing witnesses. The Crime Lab re-tested evidence - including a wallet found outside Lena Bruce’s building on the night her body was discovered. Inside was one slip of paper with one fingerprint that the BPD Latent Print Unit matched to James Witkowski’s left thumb.

Conley continued:

With a job offer from one of the country's premier engineering companies, Lena’s future looked bright. She moved to Boston’s South End, where she was intent not just on doing well for herself, but on doing good for others. Growing up in Philadelphia, she had volunteered with the elderly and with troubled teens. She was extremely active in her community, and even today, young women attend college thanks to a scholarship in Lena’s name through her sorority, the Xi Tau chapter of Delta Sigma Thi. In every way, Lena Bruce was just the kind of person we want in our city. Had she been allowed to grow into a successful woman, there’s no telling what she would have accomplished.

Sadly, Lena’s parents passed away before we could inform them that their daughter’s killer had finally been identified.

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

But good that this man will be removed from society for the remainder of his life.

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It's hard to imagine that Witkowski kept his nose clean during the decades between '92-present. Other DNA matches may be forthcoming.

I feel such sadness for the Bruce family, to have tried to continue on after such brutality was inflicted upon their loved one.

Eloquent words from the DA.

Much kudos to BPD, for maintaining and preserving the evidence in this case. Amazing work to find this killer.

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He didn't keep his nose clean. He just kept getting away with it. She was a beautiful woman with a wonderful future ahead of her. I hope he is gone for good but then again for a crime like this what's the punishment? The family suffers a great painful loss. It seems he is getting off easy yet again. A roof over his head, 3 meals a day. No real struggles. He thinks prison is a day spa. That's the way he always described any time he spent in prison. I'm glad he is off the streets. I wish he could really feel the pain he caused so many people. It is good to know his kind of pain will stop now.

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First i want to say that i want to send my deepest condolences to the families of Lena Bruce, This should of never happen to anyone's family member. I would like to talk openly and honestly if i can. The reason i'm replying back is because i think that Lena's killer is still out there some where running free and i'm going to write why and i'm sorry who ever doesn't like what i say but i have freedom of speak to say what i feel like.

I feel sorry for the majority of the people that judge without getting both side of the story that's 1 and second for not listening or looking at all of the evidence that's in front on you... lets list some of the things that we know so far from the things that we have read from this case if we may...

lets start with facts:
1-Lena was murder,
2-Lena was "so called raped",
3-Lena had her wrist tied behind her back & was killed in her own bed by suffocation.. these are your facts..

lets list evidence found now:
1-Witkowski semen that was deposit 24 hrs,
2- Lena wasn't raped (there was a consensual sexual encounter between Lena and Witkowski at some point within a couple of days of the murder.
3-DNA under Lena fingernail (could be from the consensual sexual encounter)
4-Witkowski fingerprint on a slip of paper in a wallet found i front of Bruce's apartment had a fingerprint that prosecuters says matches the defendant's left thumb but what they didn't tell you that what he wrote on that paper was his phone number that he had given her...
5-Goverment couldn't prove that Witkowski was in Bruce's apartment at the time of the murder.
6-Daniel Solomon(Lawyer) described Bruce as a "Strong, Capable Woman" whose long nails weren't broken after she died, despite the Goverment's Contention that she fought.
7-Daniel Solomon(Lawyer) said DNA can get under fingernail in different ways, noting that Bruce's Body showed no marks, bruises, or "signs of forced entry".
8-two half-eaten pieces of fruit
9-a heineken beer bottle
10-multiple fingerprints inside the apartments

all my information i got was from the boston globe articles of nov 29 & dec 11, 2017 that were written by Travis Andersen...

Now i'm not trying to defend the guy but if he did it then he deserves what he's getting. But if he didn't do it.. Then that means those other multiple fingerprints that were never identify could be the real killer of this beautiful soul... that's all i'm trying to say don't take the first person that DNA matches because its in the system already DO YOUR JOB AND CONTINUE LOOKING FOR THESE OTHER SUSPECTS because THEY MIGHT BE YOUR REAL KILLER.

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Also held today was an event for unsolved homicides attended by families of the victims, Mayor Walsh and Chief Gross. BNN covered it but I haven't seen any coverage elsewhere.

All of the women who were interviewed on camera had husbands or children who were murdered and their cases were still open.

BPDnews: 2015 Unsolved Homicide Cases

Boston Herald: 68% of 2014 slay cases still unsolved as Boston cops see worst year in decade

Boston.com: Of the 628 people murdered in Boston between 2004 and 2013, 336 have yet to be solved, according to the data.

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And what a fluke that poor woman was unfortunate enough to have crossed paths with a guy who sounds like he was a 20 year old budding psychopath.

And what a fantastic job law enforcement did. After 25 years, to still be able to track this psycho down. If anybody deserved the death penalty, he does. He's a poster boy for it.

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A poem attributed to Lena Bruce from the Boston Globe, 1993.

If I live to be an example or merely matter at all . . .

If my accomplishments become milestones

or simply clouds of smoke . . .

If my presence generates power and progressiveness

or makes some turn away . . .

You know that I tried to make a difference

Serving life through ancient eyes

Fighting with the courage of African Queens

Thinking with an imagination touched with genius

Always remembering/

All that I have done/

All that I am/

And all that I hope to be . . ./

Is due to you/

Lena

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thanks to everyone on behalf of my family for all the sympathy. We are so glad that she will now have peace but there is still a long journey ahead for us so continue to pray for us throughout this situation...

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They did not forget this beautiful young woman or her family's pain.

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