Sister of New Milford murder victim “sickened” at convict’s early release
NEW MILFORD - A woman who was part of the gang convicted in the rape and murder of 13-year-old Maryann Measles is being released from prison early for good behavior.
And the sister of the murder victim is outraged.
“Apparently, a killer can earn “good time” in prison,” said Jennifer Johnson, whose sister was in seventh grade in 1997 when she went missing. “Sickening.”
Maryann Measles was getting ready tell police she had sex with two men, 19, and 21, when she was kidnapped, beaten, gang raped and drowned in Lake Lillinonah by five men and three women.
One of those women was Maggie Mae Bennett, who was angry that Measles had sex with Bennett’s boyfriend, A.J. Walter - the crime’s ring leader - who is serving a 60-year sentence.
Bennett is the first member of the gang to be released for a brutal crime that sent shock waves across the country.
Bennett, now 40, will be released on Oct. 10 from York Correctional Institution in Niantic after serving 17 years of a 19-year sentence for conspiracy, the state corrections department confirmed.
The following is a timeline of events in the murder of Maryann Measles and subsequent court actions.
Early October, 1997
Maryann Measles, 13, tells her mother, Cindi Measles, she had sex with two local men, 19 and 21.
Oct. 9, 1997
Cindi Measles signs statutory rape charges against one of the men but Maryann won't give police a statement. There is no arrest.
Oct. 19, 1997
Cindi Measles meets her daughter at a New Milford shopping center. While her mother is in the store, Maryann goes missing.
Oct. 21, 1997 through July 15, 1998
The Measles family posts hundreds of missing person flyers through town. New Milford police said they spent 700 hours searching for Maryann, conducted more than 80 interviews and tracked 60 possible leads to locate her.
July 15, 1998
A decomposed body is found wrapped in a blanket and chains near a Lake Lillinonah boat launch in Bridgewater. Dental records identify the body as that of Maryann Measles.
Dec. 1, 1998
Gov. John G. Rowland authorizes a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
Oct. 10, 2002
State police report new leads, evidence and sources.
Oct. 15, 2002
Police arrest seven suspects in connection with Maryann Measles' disappearance and murder.
Oct. 16, 2002
Seven suspects are arraigned in Litchfield Superior Court. Police place the eighth suspect under arrest in Texas.
A.J. Walter, Jr., the man prosecutors pegged as the crime's ring leader, accepts a plea bargain. He is formally sentenced two months later to 60 years in prison.
Maggie Mae Bennett reaches a plea deal. She receives 30 years in prison, can get out in 15 to 20 years.
Jeffrey Boyette, Jr., is sentenced to 50 years in prison. He can get out in 25 years.
Dorothy Hallas accepts a plea bargain that calls for 50 years in prison. She is eligible for release after 25 years.
Deaneric Dupas accepts a plea bargain and is sentenced to 47 years in prison.
Ronald Rajcok is sentenced to 36 years in prison.
Keith Foster's case goes to trial. He is sentenced to 110 years in jail.
June Bates Seger is sentenced to 30 years in jail.
Bennett, who received the lightest sentence of the gang, testified in court in 2002 that she could see her boyfriend and two other men using her van to rape Measles.
Bennett told the court she thought the plan was to intimidate Measles so she would not make statutory rape reports. Bennett testified she did not know that the gang planned to kill Measles.
In 2018, Bennett was denied early release by the state’s pardon board.
On Wednesday, a state prison official said Bennett had time taken off her sentence for good behavior.
“[S]he earned Risk Reduction Earned Credit for compliant behavior and positive program participation,” said Karen Martucci, director of external affairs for the state Department of Correction.