WESTFIELD, Mass. - Massachusetts State Police say a Berkshire County man already serving life in prison for killing two children is also responsible for the disappearance and death of a Westfield teenager more than 20 years ago.
Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni announced Monday that Lewis Lent has confessed to killing 16-year-old James "Jamie" Lusher, who was never seen again after leaving his home in the City of Westfield on a bicycle ride in November 1992.
Mastroianni says a search for Lusher's remains will take place at a pond in Becket.
Police say they suspected Lent may have been involved in Lusher's death back in 1994 and have spoken with him about ten times since. More recently, though, police say he began to open up.
Police were then able to go to Mastroianni and work out a deal. Since Lent is already serving a sentence of life in prison, they agreed to not prosecute him in exchange for his admission of guilt.
"We've concluded that Lewis Lent is responsible. The next part of the investigation is now open, the part of the investigation that deals with recovery of Jamie's remains. That part of the investigation is now open and active," Mastroianni said.
He says the investigation will continue with some very detailed searching for the boy's remains in an area of Greenwater Pond in Becket starting on Tuesday.
"Complete shock that someone admitted to it. And I believe him, I believe what he said is true," said Jennifer Nowak, describing what went through her head when she was told by police that Lent admitted killing her brother James.
Nowak says she was 18-years old at the time, her brother 16.
"You don't want to hear it. You do, but you don't. You want closure, you want to put the whole story to an end, but it's so shocking to hear, how he took him into a van, then dumped his bike, then dumped his body, it's just awful," she said. "For my father, I think if they found something, then he could have a little more closure and put a little more peace in his heart."
Nowak says she knows her brother was not the only one who suffered at the hands of Lent, and says even after more than two decades, she still hopes for closure.
"I hope this resolves more than just my brother. I hope it opens up something and people and families can get what they need to get. I definitely hope for that."
Lent, a former handyman and janitor from North Adams, was convicted of the 1990 killing of 12-year-old Jimmy Bernardo of Pittsfield. He also pleaded guilty to the 1993 abduction and slaying of 12-year-old Sara Ann Wood of Norwich Corners, in central New York.
Sara was walking her bike home in the Mohawk Valley town of Litchfield in August 1993 when she was abducted. Lent pleaded guilty three years later to killing the girl and later told authorities he buried her in the Adirondacks. After more than a dozen searches, her body has still never been found.
Earlier this year, Lent was communicating via letter from prison with the NEWS CENTER regarding a special report which aired on the cold case murder of Kathy Kolodziej, found stabbed to death just miles away from the SUNY Cobleskill Campus in 1974. Lent was once considered a suspect in her murder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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