New England's Unsolved: Teen found murdered on side of road

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BELLINGHAM, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- A brutal murder has haunted a Bellingham family and baffled state police investigators for nearly four decades. 

A teenaged girl trying to get home was found murdered on the side of the road. Now, Theresa Corley's family is renewing its search for justice for the unimaginable violence that took her life. 

Corley was 19 years old on Dec. 6, 1978. The vibrant young woman from Bellingham was working hard to put herself through college and become a pediatrician. 

But that night, Corley had just one thing on her mind - getting home. 

Instead, two days later, her body was found in a ditch on the side of Route 495. Nearly 40 years later, her family is still trying to find out why. 

"What drives me is what happened to Theresa was a true injustice," said Corley's sister, Gerri Houde. "It's senseless, it was senseless what happened to her."

The nightmare of Corley's final hours began at a bar in downtown Franklin, where she and her friends were drinking and celebrating a birthday. Corley got into an argument and walked out.

Somewhere in the center of Franklin, three young men picked up Corley in a car and brought her to the Presidential Arms Apartments, where things spiraled out of control. 

"I've been told it was a sexual assault. I was told she was held down by two men, while one man raped her, or attempted to rape her," Houde said. 

According to State Police, Corley ran out of the apartment and started hitchhiking where two different drivers picked her up. The last driver dropped her off in the center of Bellingham, right in front of the police station. 

A few more people say they saw her down the road, but less than a mile away from home. But she never made it. 

The next morning, it was clear to Theresa's family that something was wrong.

"We were in a panic. We were in a state of panic. That she hadn't come home, because it was so unusual," said Houde.

Corley's nude body was found on Dec. 8 on the northbound side of Route 495 in Bellingham. Her jacket and jeans were thrown next to her.

A man claiming to be Connecticut businessman John Burlington called Bellingham police, alerting them he saw the body when he pulled off the road to relieve himself. But now state police say Burlington never existed. 

Deepening the mystery, shortly after the Burlington call, but before anyone knew a body was discovered, a local man walked into the police station asking if they had found Corley on the highway.

That man is now dead, but police think he may have known much more, and others could too.

Corley's family is counting on that 37 years later. Houde and her sisters have created a Facebook page called Justice for Theresa Corley. 

"What I get from that Facebook page is, I thought she was forgotten. I really thought the whole town forgot about her," Houde said. 

FOX25's Bob Ward recently spoke with the Norfolk County DA's office, why say they continue to search for justice. 

As for the three men in the apartment, they have never been charged with anything related to Corley's case. 

There is also the hope that modern forensic science and DNA testing might provide a significant breakthrough. It has happened in other cases, and people hope it will happen in Corley's case too. 
    
If you have any information, you are urged to contact the Norfolk County DA's Tip Line at (617) 593-8840. 

If you have an unsolved case you would like FOX25 to know about or have any information about any of FOX25's New England's Unsolved Cases email newenglandunsolved@fox25.com or call 877-NE-UNSOLVED. 
 

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