NORTH ADAMS -- On Nov. 1, 1974, Kim Benoit left the Sons of Italy Lodge. She had spilled a soda on her dress during a dance she was attending, and she headed to friend's house, where she had been staying, to change her clothes.
It was the last time she was seen alive.
Benoit's body was found by a bow-hunter two weeks later, on Saturday, Nov. 16, laying face down in a pile of leaves, with no coat or identification, in the woods off of River Road in Florida near the Deerfield River.
Thirty-eight years after her disappearance and discovery, the investigation into the 18-year-old's murder remains open, as does that of Cynthia "Rocky" Krizack of Williamstown. Krizack, 17, disappeared two years later, on Oct. 7, 1976. She was last seen leaving the Williams College library, where she often went to study.
Krizack's body was found several weeks later, on Oct. 31, in the woods near Main Dalton Road in Windsor by a mink trapper out scouting. She was also found face down in a pile of leaves, not far from the Housatonic River. Her shoes and socks were missing.
Autopsies would later reveal that each girl had been strangled to death and had some kind of trauma to the head.
"Both murders drew a lot of attention, and the idea was tossed around that it might have been the same killer," Elaine Kuperschmid-Pierce, a former reporter for the Berkshire Sampler who now runs an inn in Mexico, said in a recent email to the Transcript.
However, in a 2005 interview with The Berk shire Eagle about the cases, Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless said that a connection between the two cases, as well as the disappearance of Lynn Burdick, 18, from the Barefoot Peddler store in Florida on April 17, 1982, has never been proved.
"You always consider that, but at this point, no link has been made," Capeless said.
For some family members, a need for resolution still lingers around the
A timeline of the unsolved cases of Kim Benoit and Cynthia Krizack and the disappearance of Lynn Burdick.
* Nov. 1: Kim Benoit is last seen leaving a party at the Sons of Italy Lodge.
* Nov. 4: Benoit is listed as missing by the North Adams Police.
* Nov. 16: Benoit's body is discovered near the Deerfield River off of River Road in Florida by a bow-hunter at 3:30 p.m.
* Nov. 20: Benoit's case is ruled a homicide after an autopsy reveals she was strangled.
* December: John Paul Knowles, "The Casanova Killer" is thought to be a suspect in Benoit's murder after it is learned he used stolen credit cards on the Mohawk Trail, including at the Whitcomb Summit.
* Dec. 19: John Paul Knowles is killed by police in Georgia.
* March 15: State Police Lt. Det. Milo F. Brown requests transcript summaries from the tapes made by John Paul Knowles which document his killing spree.
* Oct. 7: Cynthia Krizack, 17, of Williamstown is reported missing after failing to return home from the Williams College library.
* Oct. 31: Krizack's body is found in Windsor by a mink trapper.
* Nov. 4: John Paul Knowles is ruled out as a suspect in Benoit's case.
* Oct. 10: Lt. Det. Milo F. Brown reports leads in Benoit and Krizack cases have gone cold.
* April 14: Lynn Burdick disappears from the Barefoot Peddler on Florida Mountain.
* Investigators of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley reportedly name Kenneth Littleton, tutor to Michael and Thomas Skakel, as a suspect in several deaths of young girls, including Benoit and Krizack.
* Investigators with the Moxley murder say that Littleton was in Williamstown on the night before Krizack's disappearance, but that the connection was a ruse to get inside the Skakel home.
* Author Timothy Burke draws connections to the Benoit and Burdick cases with suspected serial killer Leonard Paradiso in his book, "The Paradiso Files: Boston's Unknown Serial Killer."
"When I was 17, I made a promise to myself and to my cousin that she would have justice," said Barbara LaVigne, of North Adams, a cousin of Benoit, in a recent interview. "I was only 7 at the time she was murdered, but I still remember her very well. She was a good kid who didn't get the chance to grow up. She was robbed of everything that she should have been able to do -- have a career and a family."
LaVigne said she believes that even though 38 years have passed since her cousin was found, her killer can be found and her family can finally have closure.
"There has to be some new technology, some new technique that can be used," she said. "There have been so many advances in technology and forensics that there has to be some DNA or other evidence that can be discovered."
While some cold cases have been solved through new crime scene investigation techniques being used on old evidence, each case is different, Capeless said in an interview with the Transcript last week.
"We need to have a reason, and the technique used needs to be relevant, when it comes to unsolved cases," he said, speaking in general terms. "It also depends on whether or not we have physical evidence to test or retest. It's not like you see on television. Results can be clouded. DNA found on old evidence can belong to someone the person knew -- a husband, a wife or a roommate -- not just suspects."
In some cases, evidence, even though stored properly, can become contaminated or can degrade. But in each instance of an unsolved murder, Cape less said the cases are never closed.
"We take a number of steps to keep these cases active, and they never lie fallow. There is no statute of limitation for murder -- we never give up," he said. "Each case is assigned to a special investigator and is transferred to another if the person it's assigned to transfers out of our office or retires. Any time new information becomes available, it is documented and investigated. We also periodically review each case, putting a fresh set of eyes on it to see if we've missed anything."
When new information does become available in cold cases and unsolved crimes, the family isn't always notified.
"In some cases, we've rented backhoes and dug up areas -- all under the radar," Capeless said. "One of the most difficult things we have to consider in these cases, especially when pursuing leads, is the family. You tread a fine line. It opens old wounds or raises their hopes. When we do investigate, we take great pain to do it in the most conscientious manner."
In the case of Benoit, some family members believe that state police detectives assigned to the case didn't do enough.
Local author Paul Clermont, who recently interviewed Ben oit's mother, Beverly Gillooly, for a book he is writing about three unsolved murders from the 1970s and Burdick's disappearance, said Gillooly is still upset about how the case was handled.
"Beverly still believes they failed to do enough," he said last week. "She believes they could have pursued the case more adamantly."
Benoit, 18, had dropped out of Drury High School, where she was a senior, and had recently moved in with a friend on Sutton Avenue before her disappearance. Al though her mother reported her missing to the police after she failed to return home, a report wasn't filed until Nov. 4, according to stories in the Transcript and Eagle archives.
State Police Lt. Det. Milo F. Brown Jr., the lead investigator in both Benoit and Krizack's cases, originally touted a theory that Benoit had died of an overdose and that no signs of violence could be found on her body. Dr. Edmund P. Larkin, state medical examiner at the time, originally estimated her time of death to be about 24 to 36 hours before she was found. He later retracted the time of death.
Four days later, an autopsy conducted by Larkin would reveal that Benoit had been strangled. The report also stated that she had most likely been struck on the head.
In the years that followed, Brown, who died in 2011, would interview some 20 people about Benoit's whereabouts on the night of her disappearance. In a 1976 interview with the Transcript, he said that her activities after leaving the dance "still remained a mystery."
But in a 2005 interview with The Eagle, Brown said that Benoit's then boyfriend had been a suspect, as he wasn't cooperating with the investigators. Her boyfriend later passed several lie detector tests, and that part of the investigation "was put on the back-burner," Brown said.
Over the years, Benoit's murder has been linked by circumstantial evidence to at least three suspected serial killers.
When it was discovered that Paul John Knowles, a spree killer later dubbed "The Casa nova Killer," had used a stolen credit card on three occasions on the Mohawk Trail in Oct ober 1974, he became a suspect in Benoit's murder.
Knowles, who confessed to at least 14 murders on tapes that he made during his killing spree, was killed during a stand-off with police. In Nov. 1976, Brown cleared Knowles as a suspect, citing that the stolen credit cards were used in Georgia around the time of Benoit's disappearance. No link between Knowles' visit to the Berkshires and Benoit's death was ever found in the transcript summaries of his tapes.
In 1991, Kenneth Littleton, tutor to Michael Skakel, the Kennedy cousin who was convicted of murdering Martha Moxley in Greenwhich, Conn., was brought up by investigators of the Moxley case as a suspect in Benoit and Krizack's murders.
According to a 1993 article by the Greenwhich Times, former lead investigator Jack Soloman met with the attorneys for the Skakels, under the auspices that Littleton had committed four or five murders and was a prime suspect in the Moxley case. Littleton, a graduate of Williams College, reportedly could be tied to hotels in the Berkshires on dates near the murders, as he was in the area for Williams College football games.
But in the 1993 article, Soloman was quoted as saying, "We made it clear to them we were looking at unsolved murders. A girl was murdered at Williams College, and we put Littleton in a hotel there the night before the murder. But did we say he was responsible for it? Absolutely not."
In 2008, Benoit was again connected to a suspected serial killer, Leonard "the Qua hog" Paradiso, in the book, "The Paradiso Files: Boston's Unknown Serial Killer," by author and former homicide prosecutor Timothy Burke.
Paradiso, who died from testicular cancer in prison in 2008, was an avid hunter who hunted in the Berkshires. Burke has also claimed there may be a connection to Lynn Burdick's disappearance.
But for now, Benoit's case remains open and unsolved. No one has ever been charged with her murder, a fact that sits uneasily with LaVigne.
"I don't believe that there isn't anyone out there that doesn't know something about what happened to Kim," she said. "I want justice, but what I really want is closure for my family."
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email