The Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Police Department is hopeful new evidence can help solve the nearly four-decade-old murders of Laura Kempton, top, and Tammy Little. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Police have received four new leads, during the past four days, for an investigation into a pair of unsolved murders, said Detective Sgt. John Peracchi.

The tips were given to police since the Portsmouth Herald published a story reporting that Police Chief Robert Merner now lives at 315 Maplewood Ave,. where 20-year-old Tammy Little was found beaten to death 35 years ago. Peracchi said the Herald story prompted the tips and that he welcomes new information at all times.

Little was found dead Oct. 19, 1982, less than a year after Laura Kempton, a 23-year-old aspiring model, who was found beaten to death on Sept. 28, 1981. Little’s body was found by a now-retired police officer, who went to her Chapel Street apartment to talk to her about unpaid parking tickets.

Rewards of $20,000 remain in place for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers of both women.

Merner said last week that he didn’t know his new home was a cold-case crime scene when he moved here, but since he found out, he’s been studying the cases. The police chief said he plans to share evidence with a former colleague at the Boston Police Department whose specialty is cold cases and who “put the finishing touches on the Boston Strangler case.”

In an interview with the Portsmouth Herald six years ago, now-retired police detective Mike Leclaire said the murders of Kempton and Little have too many similarities to ignore and the women were likely murdered by the same person. He said both women lived alone in ground floor apartments in the downtown area, were regulars at the Ranger Club and Lucas, were studying to be beauticians, were considered social and were dating, but didn’t have steady boyfriends.

Anyone with information about the murders is encouraged to leave anonymous tips with Seacoast Crime Stoppers at (603) 431-1199, by text to CRIMES (274637) and including TIPSCS in the message, or at seacoastcrimestoppers.com.

Peracchi said no amount of information is too small.

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