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Convicted Killer in N.H. To Face Murder Charge

North Haverhill — A Grafton County native who has already been convicted of killing two women in Massachusetts pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to the stabbing death of a Plymouth, N.H., woman more than two decades ago.

Craig W. Conkey, 47, has been moved from a Massachusetts prison to the Grafton County Jail in North Haverhill and appeared on Tuesday at his arraignment in Grafton Superior Court via video.

Conkey is serving two life sentences for killing two women, one in 1992 and another in 1994, both in Lexington, Mass. Conkey has been in prison since he was originally arrested in 1994. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Mary Lou Sale in 2009. And he was sentenced in 2012 in the death of Kathleen Dempsey.

Conkey grew up in Dorchester, N.H., and he was a member of the Class of 1985 at Mascoma Valley Regional High School.

The New Hampshire Cold Case Unit reopened the case of Theresa Reed in 2012. In July, Conkey was indicted on charges of first- and second-degree murder.

Reed, a 30-year-old assistant in the Registrar’s Office at Plymouth State College, was found slain in her Plymouth apartment in September 1991.

The first-degree murder indictment alleges Conkey knowingly caused Reed’s death by stabbing her multiple times with a knife. The state alleges that Conkey entered Reed’s apartment on Highland Street on the night of Sept. 6 with the intent to commit a burglary. The second-degree murder indictment alleges that Conkey recklessly caused Reed’s death, “under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

An indictment is not a finding of guilt, but a tool for prosecutors to continue with criminal cases.

Conkey will remain at the Grafton County Jail until his case in New Hampshire is resolved, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin said. If he is convicted in New Hampshire, he still would be sent back to Massachusetts to serve out his sentence there.

Officials were not certain when Conkey will be eligible for parole. James Brooks, Conkey’s public defender, said after the hearing that Conkey will be eligible for parole around 2027, while Strelzin said he thinks Conkey will be eligible for parole after he serves 15 years in prison in Massachusetts.

Boston attorney Bernard Grossberg told the Associated Press last summer that he represents Conkey, and his client contacted New Hampshire authorities in 2012 about his involvement in “a very old homicide” in the state.

The federal Interstate Agreement of Detainers allows states to move defendants who have been convicted from state to state for trial. Under that agreement, the state could have waited to bring Conkey to New Hampshire until after he had served his time in Massachusetts, or Conkey or the state could request his transfer to New Hampshire.

In this case, Conkey requested his transfer to New Hampshire in November, and under the Interstate Agreement of Detainers, his trial must be held within six months, or May 7. Conkey could waive that deadline and a trial could be set for a later date.

In court on Tuesday, Conkey, tall and lean with a shaved head, appeared on a video screen wearing a black and gray striped T-shirt, his wrists in handcuffs. He stood next to his public defender, who he spoke to when the sound on the camera was turned down.

The arraignment only lasted about two minutes, and Reed’s survivors were not present at the arraignment. But Joelle Donnelly Wiggin, a victim’s witness advocate with the Attorney General’s Office, did attend. Donnelly Wiggin said she’s in touch with Reed’s family, and said they knew about the arraignment, but chose not to come.

Next to Donnelly Wiggin sat two members with the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit, Trooper Mike Koski and Sgt. Jeff Ladieu, who worked on the case.

Brooks, Conkey’s public defender, declined to comment further after the hearing.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.