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  • Linda A Cowdrick

Jane S Britton - A Coed's Death


Jane Sanders Britton, daughter of Radcliffe College Vice President Joseph Boyd Britton and his wife Ruth Gertrude, was born on May 17, 1945 in Boston, MA. She graduated Radcliffe College and then attended Harvard University as an anthropology student. She was described as "extraordinarily capable and talented." Jane is buried in the Needham Cemetery located in Needham, MA.


Jane was found on January 7, 1969 slayed in her apartment at 6 University Place in Cambridge, MA. The brick apartment building was owned by Harvard University. She was soaked in blood on her bed in her nightgown. Investigators believed the weapon was similar to a ball peen hammer, however no weapon was found. She died of five head wounds


Jane's former boyfriend (some sources say current boyfriend) who found her in the apartment after missing an exam was questioned. Investigators also questioned another man who had tried to date her. Jane's neighbors, a couple in the apartment adjacent to her, were questioned and then requestioned. However, in 2018 and after 50 years of the rape and murder of Jane, DNA and ancestry technology was used to help solve the case. It was determined that Jane was the victim of Michael Sumpter. Investigators believed that Michael snuck through a window and attacked her shortly after she came home that night.



Michael Eugene Sumpter was born September 26, 1947 in Boston, Ma and died August 10, 2001 in Boston, MA of Cancer. He died a year after being released from prison from a 1975 rape conviction. Michael worked about 1 mile from Jane's apartment. After Michael Sumter's death, he has been tied to four other rapes, 2 of which resulted in death. One of the attacks was in 1985 when Michael was on a work-release program. The victim was on a similar program. In a similar fashion, Michael was also released in the same program in 1975 and raped a 19 year old college student in her Beacon St. apartment. He convinced the girl he was a new neighbor and entered her apartment. He tied her hands with a belt, then raped her at gun point.


Jane Britton's case is the oldest cold case in Middlesex County that has been solved to date, as of 2018.



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