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December 12, 2013

Sisters of murder victims find bond

(Continued)

She said that while there were indications that Pierce had attempted to rape her sister, he was not prosecuted on a sex crime charge. She noted that in those days the collection of forensic evidence at crime scenes was not as nearly sophisticated as it is now. As a result, she said, Pierce is not on the state’s sex offender registry.

Last June, after several other panels of Parole Board members had rejected Pierce’s application for parole, he was released from Otisville state prison — the same facility where Dart is now confined. The latest parole review panel had decided his release would not jeopardize public safety. Now 58 years old, Pierce had served nearly 39 years in prison for the crime. Pierce remains under parole supervision while living in Norwich.

Berg said she has seen Pierce in the community several times, and each encounter left her with a chilling feeling, as well as profound concern that a man implicated in such a wanton murder is allowed to mingle with free society.

“I just hope Jennifer never has to experience what I experience each time I see this individual walking around town,” said Berg, a clerk for the Chenango County Department of Social Services.

Asked how she reacted when she learned Pierce was being released from prison, Berg said, “I was shocked. I never thought it should happen.”

She noted that earlier parole boards had rejected Pierce’s release because of the “nature of the crime.”

“The nature of the crime will never change, but they still let him out,” Berg said. “I will never understand how they could do that.”

Because of her own disappointment with the parole board, Berg said she can relate to the anxiety Kirkpatrick is experiencing as she awaits the parole decision for Dart, a former resident of Portlandville.

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