Photograph by Martha Deed
Valerie Chamberlain was the last person who knew John F. Montstream to see him alive. Her father had John and his younger brother James in Scouts.
Valerie was probably the last person who knew John to see him alive. Years later, she is still upset that she didn't stop to talk with him. John was standing in the entrance to Wegman's. "He looked deep in thought. He had something on his mind.
"I had to get home, because my husband was about to leave for work, and it would have been a long conversation, because we hadn't talked in a long time."
When Valerie learned that John was missing, she contacted the Monroe County Sheriff's Office to tell them when and where she'd seen John.
She testified at all three of Michael Northrup's trials. She had never been involved with the judicial system before. "To see what happens and to see the system fall apart is a shocker."
"John, Sr. and I worked with the kids in scouts," Jim Houle says. "In 1973, we took a troop of 40 kids to Philmont, New Mexico, to the national Boy Scout ranch. It was a backpacking experience, camping at 6,500-12,000 feet. You carried three days of food, then got re-supplied. Both Johnny and [his younger brother] Jimmy went."
"It was a great experience for fathers and sons. John and I were the only fathers who went."
Jim worked with John, Sr. at Kodak. He says, "I'm an engineer and a scientist. I'm used to facts and the scientific method along with using your common sense. Nothing about this was rational. I can't deal with it."
Jim Houle feels guilty because he has never been able to talk to John about his son's murder. More than three years later, he can't talk about the murder without losing his composure.