With the help of Harvard anthropologists, Vermont authorities have identified the victims and advanced one step nearer the solution of the baffling murder mystery which started with the discovery near Middlebury, Vermont, in 1935 of three skeletons with bullet holes in their heads as the only clue to their death.
Almo B. Franzoni, chief state investigator, announced Monday that records of a mother and two children who disappeared from Milton, Vermont, in 1923 had been found whose ages, heights, and general characteristics almost exactly corresponded with the estimates of anthropologists who examined the skeletons here under the direction of Dr. Woodbury two years ago.
The skeletons were sent to the Peabody Museum bone laboratories for examination late in 1935. "We do routine work of this sort all the time," Woodbury said yesterday,' "but that was the first time we've been consulted on a murder."
He explained that by careful analysis of the bones and of a small patch of hair clinging to one of the skulls, the general appearance and features of the victims could be reconstructed.
"By inspection of the lung bones, and the skull we can determine age pretty accurately," Woodbury said, adding that he had averaged together the age indications on each skeleton to get the final result. The victims, now identified as a Mrs. Golden and her two children, were 39, 14, and 11 years old at the time the murder is believed to have been committed, in 1931. Woodbury estimated the ages as 43, 14, and 12, which narrowed authorities' search through missing persons bureaus down considerably.
"By studying the skull and bone structure, we figured that the three were a mother and two daughters, with black wavy hair (this we guessed after examining the small patch), and very prominent noses, probably Armenian types. I understand that pictures and descriptions of the Golden family bear this out," Woodbury said.
Another lead in the case has been dental work on the teeth of the victims; the two children had orthodental braces, and the mother a number of fillings.