People of The State of New York v. Bernard P. Hatch
It was on April 26, 1973 Mary Rose Turner, a mother of five, suffering from insomnia took an early morning walk. Regrettably, her walk led her past a gas station known as Bohling Shell were Bernard P. Hatch was working the graveyard shift.
Mrs. Turner was familiar with Mr. Hatch and had previously frequented the gas station as a customer. Mrs. Turner would never be seen alive again.
At approximately 9 a.m. that morning, a local farmer named James Weakley observed a green motor vehicle traveling up Potato Hill Road dragging what he thought appeared to be a six foot long “white object.” Later that morning as Mr. Weakley drove on Potato Hill Road he noticed strange substances lying in the road. Upon exiting his vehicle to examine these substances, he was shocked when he saw what he believed to be human remains and surmised the object he has seen earlier may have been a human body. He immediately contacted the police and New York State Trooper J.E. Chafee responded to the scene.
Trooper Chafee and Mr. Weakley followed the bloody trail on the road leading to a dirt path which they followed until they came upon a bloody clothesline with strands of hair attached. They also observed ashes from a recent fire and pieces of pink cloth. A massive police search of this area in the Town of Steuben resulted in the discovery of a freshly dug, shallow grave. Upon unearthing the grave, the police made the shocking discovery of a badly mutilated female body, footless, armless, and faceless.
Immediately, an intensive investigation commenced which included an examination of the records of any local individuals with a history of abduction or sexual assault. As a result of Bernard P. Hatch’s prior history of rape, abduction, and suspected murder, he became a prime suspect. Beyond his history, Hatch owned a green 1966 Plymouth Satellite, resided only two miles from the crime scene, worked the graveyard shift at Bohling Shell only four blocks from Mrs. Turner’s apartment and was familiar with the victim.
Based upon this information, the police executed a search warrant issued for his vehicle, trailer, and outbuildings. The police seized his 1966 green two door Plymouth Satellite equipped with a rear trailer hitch. Additionally, several knives, clothes, boots, newspaper clippings concerning Mrs. Turner’s homicide, and a shovel were seized. Forensic evidence later matched the victim’s blood and hair to various items detained by the police belonging to Hatch.
On October 17, 1973 Hatch was indicted for the murder of Mary Rose Turner and on December 9, 1974 the longest trial in Oneida County history commenced. The prosecution introduced evidence that Hatch appeared disheveled when he returned from his break at 6:00 a.m. on April 16, 1973. Among other things, a friend of Hatch testified to a conversation in which Hatch boasted he “tied a girl behind his car to try to get the truth out of her” and that he would get way with murder. On March 7, 1975 three months after the trial commenced, the jury found Bernard P. Hatch guilty of Murder in the Second Degree following less than ten hours of deliberation over a two day period. On April 11, 1975 Hatch was sentenced to a term of not less than twenty five years with a maximum of life imprisonment for the gruesome murder of Mary Rose Turner. “You should have seen what I did to the bodies before I buried them,” were Hatch’s last public words spoken before serving his sentence in state prison.
Since Hatch’s sentencing, the New York State Board of Parole has repeatedly denied his application for release every two years since 1998. The most recent denial was on June 24, 2010