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Harvard Murder Suspect Caught After 23 Years

By Marla B. Kaplan, Crimson Staff Writer

Nearly 24 years after the shooting death of Edward Paulsen, then a 28-year old Harvard graduate student studying economics, police in Canada arrested a man long sought as a suspect in the murder.

Around 9 a.m. Wednesday, officers of the Canadian Immigration Task Force, working with both the FBI and Cambridge homicide detectives, arrested James Anthony Martin, 51, at his home in Montreal, according to the Cambridge Police Department (CPD).

Martin left Massachusetts after the crime and had lived in Florida, New York and Montreal under assumed names since then. When asked if he was James Anthony Martin, the suspect just shrugged and surrendered.

"He believed he would never be caught," said CPD Sergeant Patrick Nagle yesterday.

The Sept. 9, 1976 murder was the result of a botched drug deal, according to police. Paulsen and his brother were trying to purchase one kilo of hashish from Martin at a location on Webster Street in East Cambridge.

According to Nagle, Martin, along with Gordon Kent Brown, were planning to take Paulsen's money but not actually give him the drugs. When the plan backfired, Martin shot Paulsen.

Brown spent six years on the run before he was captured in New Jersey in 1982 and later convicted of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Martin was picked up on drug charges in New York shortly after the murder but used an alias and was able to leave town before his trial, according to Silverio Ferreira, a CPD detective.

He was indicted in absentia for the murder in December 1976.

According to the CPD, periodically detectives reopen old files and look for new leads. When they did so with Martin's file, they found him using the same alias, Bruce Benjamin, while living in Canada.

"Martin was very good," Ferreira said. "He used 60 different aliases, knows the system well and was able to get out of the country fast."

Martin had also spent five years in a Canadian jail on drug-related charges.

When police tracked Martin down, they found he had fathered a child with a common-law wife and was living on public assistance in Montreal. Though Martin was originally not home, Canadian police monitored his residence and picked him up when he returned.

Massachusetts authorities plan to return Martin to the Bay State to face murder charges, although it's not clear when that will happen, Anson Kaye, a spokesperson for the Middlesex County district attorney's office told the Associated Press.

Paulsen's family has stayed involved in the case over the years. Last year, they attended a parole hearing to make sure Brown was not released.

In unsolved murder cases, Nagle said, it is often the family who periodically stirs up interest, usually around the holidays or the anniversary of the death.

Paulsen has a father in South Boston, a brother living in France and several other siblings. They were informed of the arrest around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

"The word spread through the family rather quick," said Elizabeth Paulsen, Paulsen's sister, who spoke on behalf of the family. "At first we were in shock, but realized we would rather go through and relive this tragedy than have him never be caught."

She said the family is all extremely thankful.

"This has been a long time in coming," she said.

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