A pre-trial hearing was held on June 6th for James Witkowski for the 1992 murder of Tufts University engineering graduate, Lena Bruce.  While police finally have a suspect more than two decades after the case went cold, law enforcement officials and those close to Lena Bruce have completely different recollections of the initial Boston police response to her murder and how police got to where they are today.  Police were working a murder investigation.  Her friends worked the phones—calling reporters and cops— to make sure that this particular victim was not reduced to a crime statistic.   

Inside an apartment building near the corner of Harrison and Mass Ave, 21-year-old Lena Bruce was raped and murdered by a man police believe intended to rob the apartment. At the time, police in this once high-crime area said they were doing all they could to find a killer.  But it would be nearly 25 years before they arrested anyone. Lena’s relatives and sisters in the national sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, say what struck them most about the case was the seeming indifference by police.  
Lena’s classmate at Tufts, Francesca Lujan said sorority members were able to walk in and out of the apartment, which was supposed to be a crime scene. “The police did not put up any do not cross signs of crime scene tape.” 
And Lujan said police seemed unconcerned by how the killing might affect both them and women who lived in the area.  

“We were all scared.  We thought that it was somebody we knew, so that was really scary.  And we were afraid that we could always, you know, be next and that the police just didn't care, that police were not concerned about Lena’s death or the fact that we could all be in danger.” 

False malicious rumors –according to Lujan and others—circulated around Lena’s South End neighborhood that the victim – a recent graduate of Tufts School of engineering— was a prostitute.  Sorority sister Eva Mitchell says to add insult to misery Lena Bruce’s body was treated “terribly” by the city coroner. Eva went to Sears with Lena’s mother to find a dress for Lena in her casket.  
“We found a black dress and picked it, and Lena's mother tearfully called me and cried because the body had not been kept in good enough condition for there to be an open casket funeral. It was like tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.”  

Eva Mitchell and more than a dozen members of local chapters of Delta Sigma Theta made calls to community leaders and media to try to bring attention to the brutal murder of their friend. They were all in their early 20’s and not sure what to do next. So they contacted a locally well-known sorority sister, Dianne Wilkerson.  
“I was able to make a direct connection to the chief of the Boston Police Department at the time and communicated the concern.”  
Wilkerson was in the midst of her first campaign for a state senate seat.  She was celebrated in Boston as a community activist with clout, and she was concerned about what she was hearing regarding the investigation into the murder of Lena Bruce.       
“Couldn't make up for what was lost. The crime scene was terribly contaminated, there's no question about that, but I put her Boston family and Philadelphia family in touch directly with the police department.”  
Delta sorority members said police finally started listening to their concerns, and kept the family abreast of what was going on.  But the investigation itself seemed to be going nowhere, even though Dan Conley—a newly hired assistant district attorney at the time— says detectives in 1992 were asking all the right questions:  
“Who are the men that she's with?  Who was her boyfriend?  Did she have any secret romances that her roommate didn't know about? They questioned, but they didn't make an arrest because it wouldn't have been fair to those men.  It turns out they would have been you know completely innocent of course.” 
I asked Conley if the boyfriend was questioned?   
“Oh yeah. Yeah.”    
But at least one former boyfriend was not.   
“You know the funny thing is that I was waiting for them and I never got a call.”  
Joe Sullivan and Lena had broken up several months prior but were still close friends.  He had spoken with her from Atlanta by telephone the day before she was murdered. Sullivan says he was floored that the police never called him after Lena’s body was found.   
“So after the funeral I actually called the police station. I got the detective’s name and number at that time, and I called them. I actually left a couple of messages and finally the detective told me he would call me back. And I never heard from them. They never asked me anything.”  

It was that contradiction of what the Boston police investigating Lena Bruce’s death in 1992 said and what they actually did that compelled members of Delta Sigma Theta to hold protests at Boston Police headquarters months later.   
And it was the mystery of Lena’s murder that compelled Joe Sullivan to move from Atlanta to Boston a few years later:  
“So when I got to Boston in 96/97, I was watching a TV program one time and they were talking about this new division of the Boston PD called the cold case squad. And when I saw that, I thought that’s it. They can find out what happened to Lena and I called up and I got the detective’s name, and I called him and asked if I could come and meet with him, and he invited me up and called Lena’s mother. They picked up her case with the cold case squad.”  
The name of the Boston detective leading the re-opened investigation is William Doogan. He started re-interviewing people in the area and re-examined forensic evidence.   
In the end, it was old-fashioned cold-case police work that gave way to dumb luck that seems to have solved the case. Even though the crime scene in 1992 had been trampled on, police at that time collected DNA samples and other evidence. And Dan Conley says that was matched to a wallet found near the crime scene.   
“They kept it in crime lab conditions and then years later when that wallet was examined they extracted a piece of paper from the inside of that wallet and tested that piece of paper using today's technology and discovered one fingerprint and it happened to be the fingerprint of the ultimate suspect in this case, James Witkowski.” 

Witkowski, a career petty criminal, was 19 at the time. His trial begins in September. 

Lena Bruce’s mother, father and brother all passed away with her death still a mystery.  Meanwhile, on the campus of Tufts University, Lena’s sorority sisters want the world to know that she had accomplished much of what she’d set out to do and they want to celebrate the woman she could have become. They would never accept her being reduced to a crime statistic said Eva Mitchell:  
“And that's why the memory of Lena, that's why the dedication to Lena have gone on and on and on; different kinds, from artistic to ministerial.  The plaques and benches. We maintain a scholarship in her honor that we give out every year and people still here today know who she is.”  
Lena Bruce is a Delta, said Mitchell, speaking in the present. She “is forever my sister,” she said.