Jesse Aylward

On March 18, 2021, investigators announced that Jesse Aylward was the lead suspect in the February 12, 1984 murder of 59-year-old Virginia Hannon in Pembroke, Massachusetts. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Aylward.

Hannon was strangled and stabbed to death in her home. Her body was on her bed, and wrapped in a sheet. She had been stabbed six times in the abdomen and once in her eye. She had also been kicked such that the shoe left an imprint in her skin.

Hannon was a cook at the Bryantville Elementary School who was known to bake treats for neighbourhood children and take in stray animals. Her murder is reported to have had a significant and long-lasting impact on a small community that was close-knit and that hd a low crime rate. Detective Cain, who worked on the case stated, “when she was murdered you could hear the locks across Pembroke, cars and front doors, being locked.”

Blood was found at the crime scene on a piece of broken glass, a pair of stockings, and some paper towels. It pointed to a single male suspect. The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs in partnership with the Pembroke Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police. Identifinders had previously worked on the case, and had provided two possible surnames of the suspect to investigators. The final confirmation was made to a blood sample taken in hospital before Aylward died.

Police received a phone call on February 4, 2020 from a friend of Aylward who told police that Aylward had confessed to the murder before he passed away.

Aylward died on February 3, 2020 at the age of 58. Investigators stated that Aylward had a criminal record, but declined to state for what offences. Investigators have long believed that Hannon’s murder was connected to a string of burglaries in the area at the time.


Bonvillian, Crystal. “Deathbed Confession, DNA Match Lead to Suspect in 37-Year-Old Murder of School Lunch Lady.” Fox 13 News, April 1, 2021. Last Modified February 15, 2023.

Naham, Matt. “Heinous 1984 Murder of Widow in Massachusetts Solved After Dead Killer’s Friend Reports Confession: DA.” Law & Crime, March 19, 2021. Accessed May 8, 2023.

Whitfill, Mary. “Police: Slaying of Pembroke’s Virginia Hannon Solved After 37 Years.” Patriot Ledger, March 18, 2021. Accessed May 8, 2023.


First Name Jesse
Last Name Aylward
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2021-03-18
IGG Org Parabon; Identifinders


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1920 Virginia Hannon 59 1984-02-12 Pembroke, MA Pembroke PD; Mass SP Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.