For Immediate Release - May 19, 2014

Man Guilty of 26 Year-Old Aggravated Rape and Kidnapping

An Essex County Superior Court jury found Valentine Underwood, 53, guilty today of aggravated rape and kidnapping, one day short of the 26th anniversary of the crime.  Judge Howard Whitehead sentenced him to 30 to 40 years in state prison to follow the 2 life sentences the defendant is currently serving in California for murder.

The crime went largely unsolved until 2009 when Andover Police submitted a rape kit taken at the time of the crime to the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab where it generated a match to Underwood.  Underwood was indicted on the charges in 2011 following a joint investigation by the Essex District Attorney’s Office, Andover Police, Rockingham County Attorney’s Office and Hampton, NH Police.   

“This woman courageously fought for her life 26 years ago and she just as courageously testified in this trial.  I hope that this verdict and sentence provides her with the justice that was so long delayed,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.

 Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall introduced evidence that proved that on May 20, 1988, Valentine Underwood forced the then 24-year-old victim’s car off River Road in Andover.  He forcibly removed her from her car and put her in his truck.  He then drove around Essex County and Southern New Hampshire, stopping to rape her at knifepoint.  He eventually pulled over just past the toll booths in Hampton, NH, where he stabbed the victim in her side and attempted to slit her throat.  She was able to deflect the knife and the blade broke off in her hand.  After she threw the blade, Underwood beat her repeatedly and left her for dead.

 The victim was able to get back to the highway and flag down a passing motorist who took her to Exeter Hospital where she received treatment and a rape kit.

ADA MacDougall commended the work of Andover Police Commander Charles Heseltine and Officer William Wallace; Hampton, NH Detectives Chris Gilroy, retired Detectives William Lally and Philip Russell and Exeter, NH Chief Richard Kane. In addition, she praised the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory and Essex Sheriff’s Department, who provided additional security during the course of the trial.  Essex Victim Witness Advocate Kathy Draper provided assistance to the victim throughout the process.

Underwood represented himself.

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