Monroe police urge Renee Freer’s killer to come forward

MONROE, CT — Monroe police released new information to the public on the Renee Freer murder case Thursday and are encouraging the suspect and his family to come forward. Chief Keith White also reached out to members of the public to share any information they may know.

Freer was eight-years-old on June 22, 1977, when officers found her battered body in a wooded area about 300 yards from her home. It is Monroe’s only unsolved murder.

“This incident has had a negative effect on many lives, including the suspect and his family who have lived with this for 47 years,” White said Thursday morning. “We believe a juvenile, known to Renee, committed this crime. We are appealing to the suspect or his family to come forward with even the smallest pieces of information. We are confident they know more than what has been disclosed in the past.”

“This will bring the case to a conclusion for the sake of Renee, her remaining family and the community as a whole,” White said.

Erik C. Hanson

New attention was brought to the case when Erik C. Hanson, 45, an author who grew up in Monroe and graduated from Masuk in 1996, announced that he is writing a book on the Renee Freer murder.

Hanson started a Facebook page called “Who Killed Renee Freer?” to start a community conversation about the case in hopes people will come forward and talk to police.

Lt. Kevin McKellick had assigned the case to Det. Jeff Marcel, who is now the lead investigator. He urges anyone with information to call Marcel at the Monroe Detective Division, 203-452-2831.

Hanson’s Facebook page has 178 members now and police have followed the comments on the page.

“People who used to live in the neighborhood are talking on Erik’s page and we think they may have valuable information that can help us,” McKellick said. “We encourage them to come forward.”

On the eve before the last day of school on June 22, 1977 and Felicia Freer, a single mother who lived with her parents and her two children, Renee, 8, and Nicholas, 5, in a house on Williams Drive, planned to bake cookies for a party at Stepney Elementary School the following day.

She drove to the store to buy the ingredients, leaving her children home with their grandparents, Retired Det. Norman Mercier recalled.

Renee went outside to play with her friends in the neighborhood around 6 p.m. That was the last time her family saw her alive.

The 1970s was an innocent time when people knew their neighbors and children played outside together for hours on end, until their parents called out for them to come home.

When Freer returned home, she began to worry about her daughter, because it was getting dark outside and Renee didn’t respond when she called out her name.

According to a Bridgeport Post article published on June 23, 1977, Freer and some neighbors started searching for Renee around 8 p.m. When the search was unsuccessful, she called the police at 9:15 p.m.

Police searched the area and at 10:12 p.m. two special police officers found the little girl’s battered body in a wooded area near Hattertown Road, about 300 yards off Williams Drive. It was an area where children loved to play. She had been bludgeoned to death and officers believed a rock nearby was used as the murder weapon.

Renee was wearing a blouse and shorts and the collar of the blouse was slightly torn, but her clothing was otherwise undamaged, according to the article. An autopsy later determined she was not sexually assaulted.

“It was a violent murder and a child was involved,” Mercier said. “Whenever you have a child involved it makes matters 10 times worse. It was something that never happened in the town of Monroe before — and it’s never happened since, so it was a shock to the whole community.”

White said there were three murders in Connecticut that day, so the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was short staffed. As a result, two of the victims had forensic autopsies and Renee had a hospital autopsy.

If she had a forensic autopsy, White said more evidence would have been preserved and could have been examined years later, when law enforcement had more advanced technology at their disposal.

He said all murder victims now receive forensic autopsies.

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