Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.









Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Domestic violence
Number of victims: 4
Date of murder: October 19, 1991
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1952
Victim profile: His estranged wife Mary Jayne Jenovese and their three daughters, Emily, 2; Elise, 1; and Patricia, 10 weeks
Method of murder: Strangulation - Suffocation
Location: Concord, New Hampshire, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in August 1992. Died in prison on March 14, 2012

Boston police persuaded James Colbert not to jump off a bridge on October 20, 1991—but he'd just killed his wife and three daughters back in Concord, NH. His wife had started divorce proceedings, complaining that he'd threatened and sexually assaulted her.


Man who killed 4 died in prison

'Colbert got life in deaths of wife, kids'

By Ray Duckler - Concord

March 17, 2012

James Colbert, who was serving a life sentence for killing his wife and three young daughters in Concord 21 years ago, died this week after a long illness, a state prison spokesman said.

Jeff Lyons of the New Hampshire State Prison confirmed that Colbert died on Tuesday at the age of 59. Lyons would not specify the cause of death, but Buzz Scherr, Colbert's attorney during his initial trial in 1992, said Colbert died from cancer. He did not know what kind.

Colbert made national headlines in October 1991 when he strangled his wife, Mary Jayne Colbert, in the couple's Merrimack Street home, then smothered his daughters as they slept.

The police found Mary Jayne Colbert, a 1979 Bishop Brady High graduate whose maiden name was Jenovese, dead in her bed, the covers pulled to her chin. They found 10-week-old Patricia in her bassinette beside her mother's bed, and 2«-year-old Emily and 1«-year-old Elise in their bedroom across the hall.

Colbert drove to Boston after the murders and climbed over a railing on the Tobin Bridge, hundreds of feet above the Mystic River. He threatened to kill himself, but a state trooper persuaded Colbert to accompany him to Massachusetts General Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

En route, Colbert confessed to the killings and later was charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

His trial began in July 1992, at which time his team of public defenders, including Scherr, now a professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, claimed their client had been insane when he committed the murders.

The defense cited sexual abuse Colbert had suffered by his uncle while growing up in Somerville, Mass., incidents that stretched over a six-year period and prevented Colbert from emotionally and mentally dealing with the stress in his life that followed.

Colbert had moved to Chester two weeks before the killings, after Mary Jayne Colbert had filed a restraining order and divorce papers. He also discovered that his wife had begun an affair with another man.

The jury ruled in August 1992 that Colbert was sane and handed down a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Subsequent appeals - based on charges the judge had shown bias and not properly documented her conversation with a juror who'd been dismissed due to illness after deliberation had begun - were denied.

Colbert tried to commit suicide in prison at least twice, once by hanging himself with his shoelaces in the prison shower. He was discovered unconscious by a guard and recovered.

Colbert's family, based in Massachusetts, could not be reached for comment, and Mary Jayne Colbert's parents in Concord preferred not to comment.

Reached yesterday by phone, Scherr said his client felt genuine remorse, citing the fact that Colbert had made a police video in 2000 to shed light on domestic violence.

'He did what he could, both before he committed the murders and after he committed the murders,' Scherr said. 'He tried in prison to lead a life that would begin to make some kind of amends for something you could never make full amends for.'


A chief remembers a murderer

He saw scene of Colbert's killings

By Ray Duckler -

March 25, 2012

Even Dave Goldstein, the hardboiled cop who'd seen it all, had trouble seeing clearly 20 years ago.

Hadn't James Colbert been a bigger, more menacing figure, the Franklin police chief wondered when he interviewed the convicted killer at the state prison in 2010? Instead, here was Colbert as he really was, stocky, yes, but maybe 5-foot-6.

"For myself, it had to be a vision of this big, burly, almost grotesque Cro-Magnon type of individual," said Goldstein, the lead investigator for the state police Major Crimes Unit at the time that Colbert murdered his estranged wife and their three young children.

"These were not my first murder victims I had seen in my career, but for some reason, he stayed with me."

That's because of the children. After choking his wife, Mary Jayne Jenovese, Colbert suffocated Emily, 2½, Elise, 1½, and Patricia, 10 weeks, all as they slept in the family's Merrimack Street apartment.

Colbert then drove to Boston, where he threatened to jump off the Tobin Bridge, hundreds of feet above the Mystic River. A Massachusetts state trooper talked him off the railing and drove Colbert to the hospital for evaluation. On the way to Mass General, Colbert confessed to the killings, and the following summer a jury found him guilty of the four murders, rejecting his insanity plea.

Eleven days ago, Goldstein received an email telling him the man whose crime had haunted him for 20 years was dead. Goldstein never quite got the guy out of his head. Not while serving as a hostage negotiator and crime scene investigator for the state police, not while he was chief of police in Winthrop, Mass., and not now, as chief in Franklin.

Goldstein plans to write a book about the case. He interviewed Colbert in 2010 and again in January of last year, before Colbert's cancer had been diagnosed. Goldstein says the book will take a few years to finish.

"It's not (being written) to come up with the definitive, 'This is why he did what he did,' " Goldstein said. "Hopefully some of the readers would be people in the field, telling them that these are the issues that you have to look at."

Goldstein's video of his second interview with Colbert shows a calm killer, a man saying he regrets what happened and hopes to one day counsel men on how to avoid domestic violence.

"Not an unpleasant man," Goldstein said.

This is not to say that Goldstein bought Colbert's argument, that he had no choice when he committed the crime. Or that he'd lost his mind from severe psychosis, or that the years of sexual abuse at the hands of his uncle prevented him from processing information and dealing with stress properly.

Goldstein called the trial "a case of dueling psychiatrists." He also called Colbert a killer who got what he deserved.

"I believe he knew what he was doing," Goldstein said. "He knew the difference between right and wrong. Absolutely."

His resume tells you Goldstein knows what he's talking about. He's received three college degrees, including his Ph.D in psychology.

He moved through the ranks in law enforcement, as a patrol officer in Derry, then a state trooper for 21 years, specializing in hostage negotiation and major crime scene investigation.

He's since been chief in Winthrop, and now he's chief in Franklin, a seemingly odd final career destination after wearing a three-piece suit for so long.

"I love police work," Goldstein said. "And this position opened up, and I jumped on it."

At 60, he's come full circle, back in a blue uniform as wrinkle-free as glass. His silver hair is closely cropped, and he's trim and fit, with a small waistline and a big appetite for adventure, which he makes clear with skydiving photos near the door of his downtown office.

He's a cop who's seen it all, brutality and sorrow and hatred. But the Colbert murders were like nothing else he'd experienced.

"I always kept this case separate and distinct from all others," Goldstein said. "When was the last time you heard about a family being wiped out like that?"

Goldstein shows the crime scene photos he's saved for 21 years. They show a mother and her three daughters, each tucked into bed, each posed to look like she was sleeping.

Mary Jayne had taken out a restraining order on her husband, accused him of violent behavior and filed divorce papers. Colbert left a note, visible on the living room table, saying he couldn't handle the thought of his wife with another man. He couldn't handle being away from his kids. He couldn't handle recent unemployment after being a trucker his whole life. He couldn't handle his children with another father figure.

Strangely, though, with so much violence so close to the surface, the apartment photos are peaceful, with painted Halloween pumpkins sitting on the front steps and the toys neatly placed on shelves in the living room.

"If you walk through this apartment, it was different than most crime scenes," Goldstein said. "It was a very clean apartment, and quite frankly, the majority of crime scenes I've seen in my 33-year career have been hovels. You could tell mom was trying to do the best she could."

Goldstein took charge that day, overseeing everything, from the collection and tagging of evidence, to the crime scene photos, to handling the written overview himself.

What followed were media images of a man with wavy hair and sad eyes, shackled and shuttled in and out of court as the city squinted, shook its head and wondered why.

Colbert's attorneys cited an uncle's sexual abuse when Colbert was a kid in Somerville, Mass., as the source of his troubles. And that, the defense team claimed, led to an act beyond Colbert's control.

"He was in a great deal of pain over a long term from significant and traumatic sexual abuse he suffered," said University of New Hampshire School of Law professor Buzz Scherr, who represented Colbert. "He was just a profoundly fragile human being, mentally and emotionally."

Goldstein understands the insanity defense. He saw it used effectively in Bedford, where a man killed his mother in the kitchen and left her there for a day or two. That man, Goldstein said, stopped taking his medication for schizophrenia.

"This guy never even made it to any court," Goldstein said. "There's a guy that doesn't know what he's doing."

And Colbert?

"Do I believe a lot of what he said?" Goldstein said. "Absolutely not. But he has to say he doesn't remember. That's his story. If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth, and that's what he's trying to do."

He tried to do it in the videotaped interview Goldstein conducted 14 months ago. Colbert insisted his insanity defense was legitimate.

"How could anyone in their right mind do that and not be psychotic?" Colbert said, his hands clasped on a sheet of questions Goldstein had sent to him in advance. "If I was in touch with reality, I would have known I was doing something wrong."

Twenty years ago, a jury didn't buy it. Neither did Goldstein. Not then, not now.

But good luck finding any emotion directed toward Colbert. Goldstein keeps his feelings locked up, even as he begins to piece together his book. His wife sees the pain and anger connected to his job, but no one else.

All he'll reveal is that this man who killed his family once looked much larger.

"I would look at the defense table and I had this vision he was this rough, strong human being," Goldstein said. "When I met him face to face, he was very, very small."


Murderers Urge: Do as We Say, Not as We Do

Deterrence: Police in Dover, N.H., have a film in which three convicted killers counsel: Don't end up like us. It is shown to everyone arrested on domestic violence charges.

By Holly Ramer - Los Angeles Times

November 12, 2000

DOVER, N.H. — In 1991, James Colbert strangled his estranged wife, then suffocated his three young daughters and tucked them into their beds. Police found him the next day, teetering on the edge of a bridge in Boston.

Colbert pleaded insanity at the time and laid blame for the murders on his troubled childhood.

Now he blames himself. Serving four consecutive life sentences, he is one of three convicted killers in New Hampshire appearing in a video created to discourage domestic violence before it escalates to murder.

"There was no reason for them to die," Colbert says repeatedly in the video. "If anybody should have died, it should have been me."

Since February, police in Dover have shown the 10-minute videotape to everyone arrested on domestic violence charges. So far, more than two dozen men and women have watched three killers offer this simple advice: Don't end up like us.

James Colbert was interviewed for the video last September, eight years to the week after he killed his estranged wife, Mary Jayne, and daughters--2 1/2-year-old Emily, 1 1/2-year-old Elise and 10-week-old Patricia--at their home in Concord.

In a recent telephone interview from the state prison in Concord, Colbert said he didn't remember much about the murders, but he described a series of setbacks leading to that night. He had been through a messy divorce, had lost his job and was watching his second marriage unravel fast.

"We were going through hard times. I was mentally drained, but I'm not saying those are excuses," he said. "I can't blame the booze. The booze didn't make me do what I did. I did what I did, but I don't believe I was in my right mind."

Colbert, 47, keeps photos of Mary Jayne and the girls in his cell.

"It's a reminder that there was no need of their dying," he said. "I could spend the rest of my life in prison and that's what I deserve, but they didn't deserve that."

In the video, he urges viewers to get counseling.

"Stay away from your family. Get help. Until you get help, don't go near your family. Get your head screwed on right," he says. "If you go the way I did, there's no turning back."

The video grew out of an unlikely partnership between Dover police and the U.S. Secret Service, the agency that protects presidents.

The Secret Service recently completed an intensive study of people who have assassinated or tried to assassinate public officials. The study showed that assassins don't act impulsively but rather follow a "pathway to attack," said Robert Fein, a psychologist with the agency's National Threat Assessment Center.

The same may apply to domestic-violence murders.

"We continue to learn, in the same way we in the Secret Service have learned about targeted violence, that violence is the end result of an understandable process. These attacks do not come out of the blue," Fein said.



home last updates contact