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New Hampshire's Most Wanted
Published on August 14, 2011 by Sara Foss

Being from New Hampshire, I was interested to read this Boston Globe article about the state's most wanted criminal.

Named John William McGrath, the Newport native was sentenced to life in a mental hospital after murdering his family, but vanished 37 years ago, after gaining a reputation as a math whiz, painter and avid writer at New Hampshire Hospital.

Here's an excerpt from the article, which is pretty interesting:

“'He could be in a pauper’s grave in Cleveland, Ohio, or a popular businessman in California, or anywhere in between,’ said Lieutenant Barry Hunter of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department, who as a state trooper in 1984 embarked on a quest to capture McGrath. 'The fact of the matter is, we don’t have any idea where John is.'

The search for McGrath has stretched from coast to coast, to spots as far flung as Delmar, N.Y., Sacramento, and London, Ky. Hunter has investigated unidentified bodies in morgues, but the hunt continues because something is always off - dental records don’t match; the age, weight, or height is wrong; the hair color a shade off.

Since he walked off the hospital grounds, there has not been a single, solid lead about the location of McGrath, who has remained on the run longer than any other escapee in New Hampshire history. And because his crime and escape happened long before DNA analysis became a standard feature of police work - and because no close kin remain - investigators say they do not have tools that would aid a modern-day investigation."

User Comments
Karen Parker | March 04, 2012 18:26

Johnny was an extremely intelligent little boy at the age of 6 or 7 when I knew him. He and his family were our neighbors across the field and a small grove of trees was between us and where their cottage was located on the pond where we kids ice skated in the winter. Johnny loved our old farm house and would tell me that ghosts were in the furnace registers and he loved to wander through the whole place with his imagination running wild. At that time he was such a beautiful little tow headed boy and his brother Peter was such a sweet little boy. They didn't visit often but when they did it was memorable. I had often wondered what happened to Johnny after my mother wrote me in Texas about the murders. I realize now, after having children, that Johnny was a troubled boy even then. It is so sad that it had to reach the point of murder in his mind. His mother was a very pretty woman and if I remember correctly his father taught at the high school in Newport as he also rode the school bus with us kids.

Doreen | July 25, 2012 21:40

Would love to hear more recollections from Karen Parker. Pretty helpful to have someone that new him as a young boy. May shed some light on this mystery.

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