It is estimated that there are well over 200,000 unsolved murder cases in the United States alone, with some dating back as far as the 1960s. And even if a killer is eventually discovered by the police, some of these cold cases remain a mystery as lack of evidence and even death can halt a conviction.
The mystery of the Allenstown Four, also known as the Bear Brook murders, first unraveled in 1985 when two of bodies were found hidden in a metal drum in a New Hampshire park. Over the course of the investigation, police narrowed down the possible suspects in the murders to a man who went by the name Bob Evans, a drifter who had likely lived in dozens of states under dozens of pseudonyms. The suspected killer was ultimately brought to justice for other heinous crimes and died in prison 2010. In 2017, it was confirmed through genealogy matches that his real name was Terry Rasmussen, and that he was indeed the Allenstown killer; however, the true identity of his victims still remains unknown, and various theories about the murders remain unsolved. This is the story of the Allenstown Four.
In 1985, a hunter came across a steel drum containing the bodies of a woman between the ages of 23 and 33 and a girl between the ages of 5 and 11. The hunter had been stalking deer on a property adjacent to New Hampshire's Bear Brook State Park. Nearby the property is a trailer park, but police couldn't locate anyone who could provide any information about the appearance of the barrels containing the unidentified bodies. Then, in 2000, a New Hampshire State Police trooper was following up on the investigation and found another barrel containing the bodies of two more girls, this time between the ages of 1 and 3, and the other between the ages of 2 and 4.
The decomposed state of the bodies that were found within the two 55-gallon metal drums has caused problems for investigators. Though the remains of the first two victims were discovered in 1985 (with the second two victims found in a similar metal drum in 2000), the exact year that they died is unknown. However, investigators believe that the crimes took place sometime between 1977 and 1985.
The initial discovery of the bodies disturbed the community of Allenstown, but finding the bodies was only the beginning. Once investigators recovered the bodies, they began the process of trying to identify the cause of death. Though they were badly decomposed, it was determined that the woman and child found in 1985 were beaten to death. However, the two girls who were found in 2000 were unfortunately too extensively decomposed to determine the cause of death.
One of the strangest parts of this case is the length of time that elapsed between finding the first pair of bodies and the second. While a hunter in 1985 was the first person to report the bodies to police, it was actually a group of children from a nearby trailer park who first found the barrel. The kids, who were playing in the park, rolled the barrel about 100 yards from where they first found it but when it opened, they left it where it was eventually found by the hunter. The second barrel wasn't found until 15 years later - police reported that it was likely outside the perimeter of the original crime scene, which explained why it took so long for it to be found.