After a 23 year search, a man was indicted in the murder of his girlfriend in the West Roxbury area known as the Grove, according to Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.
Michael Coker, 48, was arrested today for the murder of 20 year-old Janet Phinney in 1988. Phinney was found strangled in a wooded area behind her home.
“Homicide detectives, Suffolk County prosecutors and the Phinney family have been seeking justice for Janet for more than 20 years,” Davis said. “The dogged efforts of the Cold Case Squad, the painstaking re-examination of the evidence by the BPD Crime Lab and the relentless dedication of prosecutors made this indictment possible. My hope is that this significant development provides Janet’s family with some sense of peace.”
Phinney was working as a hairstylist and a waitress at the time of her murder. She lived with her parents and was discovered dead by a neighbor after her parents had filed a missing persons report.
Officials suspected the victim’s ex-boyfriend, Coker, but did not have enough evidence until recently to charge him.
“Today, after more than 20 years of uncertainty, Janet Phinney’s family members received the news that their loved one’s murderer has been indicted and arrested,” Conley said. “Whether it’s days, weeks, months or years, the message here is that we will never quit in our pursuit of justice.”
Boston Police Department’s Cold Case Squad reopened the Phinney case in 2010, enhanced by new forensic technology involving DNA samples.