How To Think Like an Adult

The murder of a couple unsolved after 37 years

To quote the Caledonia Record back in the year 2000;

On Sept. 20, 1984, the bodies of Roland Hanel, 49, and his wife of three years, Maram, 32, were found in their Jay chalet riddled with anywhere from eight to 11 gunshot wounds.

According to stories within my own family, the two were found by a family friend after Roland did not show up to a planned bit of tennis. Maram, on the floor of the kitchen. Roland, on his stomach in the living room. No one called out the noise.

It is no wonder that nothing was heard. In this pocket of the northeast kingdom, neighbors who are far apart by nature tend to turn a blind eye to sights and sounds, the goings on of others around them. Gun shots can be common place, especially in the lead up to the start of the hunting seasons. My parents, still up there, live near a gun range where excited hunters sight their weapons. On any given day, the sounds of heated battle rattle from down the hill. They think nothing of it.

People, who by their nature avoid paying much attention to happenings beyond their property line - possibly hear multiple shots (20+ if reports are to be believed) and say nothing. Considering the lack of violent crime in this area in the 80’s, eyebrows would remain where they are (i.e. not raised). This is challenge number one.

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I’ve been on a bit of kick around this case the last few days. It ebbs and flows. Maybe it is the fact that summer is wrapping and I know that I’ll have to reinvigorate the hobbies for those long dark days of winter. Could be punched up by the handful of trips I have had to make to Vermont to help with my father’s care during a string of health issues.

Seeing the old hills and mountains where little seems to change through the years brought back the thrills we felt as boys as we discussed this murder event in great detail, imagining spies and hitmen, scorned lovers, revolutionaries, and numerous others who could be motivated to inflict hideous, graphic violence.

Back to the original Caledonia Record article:

It was a case that smacked of all kinds of international intrigue and even speculations of mob links due to the nature of the killings - use of a semi-automatic or automatic weapon or weapons using foreign ammunition - and that both the Hanels, who had moved full-time to Jay from Montreal in 1969, were of foreign births, he of Germany and she of Egypt.

Maram Hanel worked at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, when members of the Black September Palestinian terrorist group kidnapped nine Israeli athletes. An unsuccessful attempt by German police to rescue the Israelis resulted in the death of the Israeli athletes and five of the terrorist group.

Speculation arose whether the Hanel’s deaths, particularly her Arab descent, and he a German native, was a retribution killing, even by Israeli secret police, considering the Yugoslav ammunition used in the 9mm murder weapons were also used in Israeli-manufactured semi-automatic guns.

These were all interesting theories, but each one in its time has been closed down. I cannot help it but I continue to go back to some of the more interesting attempts to find a motive. My mother still holds to the belief that while working at the local ski area at this time, she witnessed a group of Israeli men staying in the hotel, training during the day by running up and down the mountain. Big men. Warrior-types.

I grew up on stories like this. They were fun. But did they solve the crime? While it can be fun and much more interesting (in our small remote world) to imagine multi-layered intrigue, the reality is that when it is all stripped away, two decent people lay murdered on the floor of their home.

I go back to earlier thinking and posts - that someone knows something. Whether the person or persons who pulled the trigger (doing a damn fine job of not leaving evidence), to the people who surround them in their lives, possibly hearing what went on in that chalet - someone out there knows who did this and why. 37 years is a long time to keep all of this bottled up. Personally, I would wager that a murderer self-soothes. And someone trying to tamp this image down soothes hard. And someone soothing this hard says things. And someone hears.

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I do not really know the ways of the citizen detective anymore than a regular Netflix binger thinks they understand the process. It would seem to me that this case would be ripe for some reinvigoration. Times have changed. Technology has changed. Something has to be there hidden in this case that can shed some light on motive.

Theories abound. I’ve only highlighted just a few mentioned in all of the stories published at the time. Many of these seem too easy to go to and too difficult to refute. Maybe it needs to be a simpler story. A cleaner approach.

I have a ways to go with this and nothing but time.


I keep thinking that I’ll learn the ways so that I can be of some use. The Uncovered site has been a help to get me started:

Think Like a Journalist: How to Find Court Documents