The Murder of Alice Lezan

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DISAPPEARANCE & DISCOVERY:

15-year-old Alice Lezan of Franklin Township, New Jersey was last seen on September 26, 1969. The grade 10 student at Franklin High School had decided to skip classes for the day and make the two hour bus trip to the Port Authority bus terminal located at 625 8th Avenue in Manhattan, New York. The building was a regular haunt for her and her older sister, as well as other teenagers at the time, and the young girl was known to enjoy spending time there.

Alice was last seen that day walking near a hotel, located on West 48th Street in New York City, New York. She was walking with an unknown, older male, and she was wearing a pair of grey and white dungarees with a purple shirt. After this sighting, she was never seen or heard from again.

Months later, on March 17, 1970, a young boy was walking in the woods near upstate Cordlandt, New York when he came upon the body of an unidentified female. She was at the bottom of the cliff at Bear Mountan Road, a near 60′ drop located near Camp Smith, a New York National Guard training site. She had been stuffed into a red sleeping bag, with her ankles, wrists and neck tied with rope. Concerned, the boy returned home to inform his parents, but they didn’t believe his story and thus never called the authorities.

On November 15, 1970, the young boy returned to the place where he’d found the body, this time with friends. The body had further decomposed since March and was now skeletonized. He again informed his parents of the discovery and, concerned, they contacted the New York State Police.

INVESTIGATION:

Upon learning of the body, New York State Troopers descended upon the area, which is located in northern Westchester County. Given the state of the remains when brought in for examination, the coroner was unable to determine an exact cause of death. Despite this, he was able to say it was likely the result of a homicide.

For six years, Alice’s body remained unidentified, as her family had never reported her missing. In 1973, her brother was watching TV when a missing persons report began to air. He was struck by how much the description matched that of his sister, and in 1974 he officially reported her as missing to the authorities. However, it would take another two years before Alice was positively identified through the use of dental records.

Now that they had a name, police are able to begin their investigation. A 28-year-old tree surgeon from Connecticut soon came on their radar. Described by investigators as a “quasi-leader of hippie types”, he was known to frequent the Port Authority bus terminal, and it’s believed Alice had set out to meet with him on the day she went missing. It’s believed he was a pimp who held other girls Alice’s age on his roster and was trying to lure her into sex work, which she refused. He was known to communicate with other sex workers, who, when questioned, claimed he’d told them Alice had simply gone home. They interviewed him numerous times, but the outcome of these interviews is currently unknown.

Over the years, there have been few developments in the case. Police are looking for anyone who may have been travelling from New York City via the Palisades Parkway across Bear Mountain Bridge to think back and see if they recall seeing anything suspicious toward the end of September 1969. It’s their belief Alice was killed and her body dumped between September 27 and 28 of that year.

In 2018, the New York State Police renewed its calls for information relating to the case.

THEORIES:

1) Given how little information is available regarding Alice’s murder, it’s hard to speculate as to what may have happened to her. The current and only theory in the case is that her death was at the hands of the tree surgeon from Connecticut, whom police believe to have been a pimp. Some feel Alice may have been killed after refusing to work for him as a prostitute.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the New York State Police at 845-677-7300.

Image Credit: Times Union

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