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Man accused of walking into FBI office, confessing to killing Boston woman in 1979

Sep 11, 2023, 12:30 PM

BOSTON (AP) — A 68-year-old man walked into an FBI field office in Oregon and confessed to bludgeoning a woman to death more than four decades ago in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, prosecutors said.

John Michael Irmer, 68, was arraigned Monday in Boston. Irmer, who prosecutors say is also being looked at after allegedly confessing to another slaying, was ordered held without bail pending another court appearance on Oct. 17 on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated rape.

Investigators said Irmer had been free for 10 years after serving three decades in prison for a homicide in California. He told FBI agents in Portland, Oregon, last month that he’d met a woman with red hair — identified as Susan Marcia Rose — at a skating rink just before Halloween in Boston in 1979.

Irmer said the two walked around the Back Bay before entering an apartment building that was under renovation at the time, prosecutors said. Just after entering the building Irmer told investigators, he grabbed a hammer and struck Rose on the head, killing her. He then raped her and fled to New York the next day.

Steven Sack, the attorney representing Irmer, said he wouldn’t contest bail, but highlighted Irmer’s decision to turn himself in.

“I would say on his behalf, he was a free man for 10 years. He walked into police and confessed, allegedly,” Sack said.

Another man had been arrested by police at the time and charged with the crime, but was acquitted in 1981 of the charges.

Police said Rose, who had red hair, was found dead in the building on Oct. 30, 1979. The cause of death was determined to be blunt injuries on the head with skull fractures and lacerations of the brain.

Investigators also took a DNA sample from Irmer, which they said turned out to be a match with DNA samples preserved from the murder scene.

Rose had moved to Boston from Johnstown, Pennsylvania and was living on a nearby street at the time of her death.

“Nearly 44 years after losing her at such a young age, the family and friends of Susan Marcia Rose will finally have some answers,” Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a written statement.

“This was a brutal, ice-blooded murder made worse by the fact that a person was charged and tried — and fortunately, found not guilty — while the real murderer remained silent until now,” he added.

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Man accused of walking into FBI office, confessing to killing Boston woman in 1979