Oregon man held without bail in connection to 1979 Back Bay killing

An Oregon man is being held without bail in connection with the 1979 murder of a woman in the Back Bay.

John Michael Irmer, 68, was arraigned on murder and rape charges Monday in Boston Municipal Court.

Investigators said Irmer had been free for 10 years after serving three decades in prison for a homicide in California. He told FBI agents in Portland, Oregon, last month that he’d met a woman with red hair — identified as Susan Marcia Rose — at a skating rink just before Halloween in Boston in 1979.

Irmer said the two walked around the Back Bay before entering an apartment building that was under renovation at the time, prosecutors said. Just after entering the building, Irmer told investigators, he grabbed a hammer and struck Rose on the head, killing her. He then raped her and fled to New York the next day.

Steven Sack, the attorney representing Irmer, said he wouldn’t contest bail, but highlighted Irmer’s decision to turn himself in.

“I would say on his behalf, he was a free man for 10 years. He walked into police and confessed, allegedly,” Sack said.

A different man was tried for Rose's murder in 1981. He was found not guilty.

"Nearly 44 years after losing her at such a young age, the family and friends of Susan Marcia Rose will finally have some answers," Suffolk Country District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement. "This was a brutal, ice-blooded murder made worse by the fact that a person was charged and tried—and fortunately, found not guilty—while the real murderer remained silent until now."

Irmer is due back in court next month.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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