Grand Jury Indicts Man in 36-Year-Old Cold Case Murder of North Andover Woman

Claire Gravel. (Photograph provided by Essex County District Attorney’s office.)

A 62-year-old man, already in prison for a 2008 conviction, was indicted Wednesday and charged with the strangling death of a 20-year-old North Andover woman in June 1986.

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett said an Essex County Grand Jury indicted John Carey, who turns 63 on Sept. 3, after hearing evidence in the 36-year-old cold case. Claire Gravel, a Salem State College student, was found dead Sunday, June 30, 1986 after having gone the night before to Major Magleashes’ Pub on Washington Street in Salem with members of her softball team.

“For 36 years, Claire Gravel’s family and friends have had nothing but questions about her death,” Blodgett said. “Today, we are able to give them some of the answers.”

Blodgett said a 2012 lead based on surviving physical evidence was investigated using modern forensic testing. Since then, the efforts of assistant district attorneys and State Police detectives specializing in cold cases, carried on the investigation that was started by Beverly, Salem and State Police at the time of the murder.

Gravel was last seen alive between 1:30 and 1:45 a.m. that morning after being dropped off at her apartment on Loring Avenue in Salem. Three workmen discovered her body in the woods on the northbound side of Route 128 in Beverly.  The medical examiner determined she had been strangled to death.

Over the years, Blodgett’s office said, investigators interviewed dozens of witnesses and persons-of-interest and followed through on every lead and tip they received.

Carey is currently serving time at MCI Concord for a 2008 conviction on a charge of attempted murder.

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