Thanks to DNA, we now know who killed Laura Kempton in September 1981. Ronney James Lee, then 21, lived and worked in Portsmouth at that time.
“There is no indication that he knew or was acquainted with Laura Kempton,” said Assistant Attorney General Rachel Harrington.
In this article you can learn more about Lee. In short, he served in the Army and worked for MBI Security at Liberty Mutual in Portsmouth. During that time, he attacked and killed Laura Kempton in Sept 1981.
He left MBI Security in August 1982. It was followed by an arrest for attempted theft, residential burglaries, a burglary that included a sexual assault, and he spent time in prison from 1987-1990. He died from acute cocaine intoxication on Feb 9, 2005.
As he is dead, the case will not be pursued further. However, authorities said that if Lee was alive his charges would be first-degree murder during the commission or attempted commission of aggravated felonious sexual assault and “alternatively for causing her death by striking her with a blunt object, which was believed to be a wine bottle.”
DNA obtained during the autopsy and preserved from the crime scene helped investigators build a profile that together with with genetic genealogy let to Lee. A statement of Laura’s family can be read here.
Laura Kempton (1958-1981) was found dead on Monday morning Sept 28, 1981, by a police officer (now retired) inside her apartment. He came to talk to her about a series of unpaid parking tickets and found her door ajar. Laura (23) was a student at the Portsmouth Beauty School (New Hampshire). In her spare time, Laura worked at Macro Polo, Inc. and Karen’s Ice Cream Parlor.
Rest in peace, Laura Kempton.