crimes

Bedford, Massachusetts’ Donald Mars arrested 56 years after Betty Lou Zukowski’s body was found in West Springfield

Donald Raymond Mars, 73, of Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States previously lived in Chicopee, Hampden County, Massachusetts. He was 7 years older than Betty Lou Zukowski of Chicopee.

Zukowski was 10 years old when she left home on May 26, 1966. She was found dead in West Springfield, Hampden County on May 30, 1966 and was laid to rest on June 6, 1966.

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A composite sketch was created based on information from two witnesses including one who saw Betty the night she disappeared. Her cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries to her head, a skull fracture and terminal drowning, according to the chief medical examiner.

The sketch did not help the Chicopee Police Department and the West Springfield Police Department to determine the identity of Betty’s killer. The case went cold.

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In 1995, Mars allegedly sexually assaulted two children. He was charged with three counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14.

In November 1997, multiple sources provided information about Zukowski’s murder to the West Springfield Police Department. However, it did not lead to an arrest.

Recently, those information were revisited shortly after the Unresolved Case Unit of the Hampden District Attorney’s Office was created. This time, those information linked Mars to Zukowski’s death. 

Mars was arrested on November 2, 2022 and arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder on November 3, 2022. He is being held without the right to bail and is due back in court on May 1, 2023. 

“Sadly, Betty Lou’s parents are deceased and will not see Donald Mars answer for what we allege he did to their daughter,” Hampden district attorney Anthony Gulluni stated. “My office has been in contact with Betty Lou’s extended family members, one of whom was a pallbearer at her funeral in 1966. While this investigation will not bring Betty Lou back to her family or grant her the opportunity to grow into a healthy adult that she and every child deserves, it is for them and for Betty Lou that we embark upon this journey of seeking justice.” 

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