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Columns

June 11, 2012

Kidnapping and murder stunned Greene in 1977

When George Raymond Jr. arrived for lunch at his Greene home Wednesday, June 1, 1977, and found lights and the television on, as well as his wife Cynthia's purse, clothing and car -- but not a sign of her anywhere -- he knew something was wrong.

Cynthia Spencer Raymond had a pretty regular routine on a Wednesday. A sportswoman as she was, it was normally a golf day with some friends.

However it had rained that day, so Mrs. Raymond had gone shopping instead. It was at some point after that she disappeared.

George Raymond contacted the authorities and it didn't take long for a horde of FBI, State Police and local police officers to begin a search for Mrs. Raymond. Hundreds of local residents were interviewed, there were roadblocks, and bloodhounds were brought in to help in the search. For the first two days, no clues to the disappearance were found.

Raymond was chief executive officer of the Raymond Corp. at the time and Friday, made an appeal through the region's media for the safe return of his wife. It was believed that Cynthia Raymond had been kidnapped.

"I am prepared," Raymond said, "to provide that which is within my power to provide or concede whatever is necessary and to follow any instructions given … to get her back safely," it was reported in The Daily Star on Saturday, June 4.

With no one coming forward, the search continued. Nearly 200 volunteer searchers from the Raymond Corp. spread out over the Raymond estate on Jeffery Heights near the village Tuesday, June 7. One clue in the investigation was confirmed that the telephone line to the Raymond's home had been pulled from a junction box after Mrs. Raymond had been discovered missing. Investigators remained tight-lipped about what they were looking into.

State police finally found Mrs. Raymond dead the morning of Wednesday, June 8, about six miles east of the Raymond estate on Hogsback Road, just off of state Route 206.

A source said she had a gunshot wound to the head.

An autopsy confirmed that this was the cause of death. Chenango County District Attorney John Marshall left the state by plane the same day following the discovery, in pursuit of a suspect.

The next day, police arrested Robert L. Harrington, 30, of Whitney Point, on a charge of second degree murder of Cynthia Raymond, while visiting friends in Milan, Tenn., about 100 miles northeast of Memphis.

Apparently some evidence had been found at Harrington's apartment in Whitney Point. Harrington was held in the Madison County, Tenn. jail until he could be released to New York authorities.

Harrington was indicted Friday, July 20, 1977, by a Chenango County grand jury on four counts, three on varying degrees of murder and one on first degree kidnapping.

Harrington's trial began Friday, Feb. 10, 1978, in the Chenango County Courthouse, following the selection of a jury.

District Attorney Marshall said that Harrington had planned the burglary to get money after his unemployment benefits had run out and to support his young daughter. Marshall said Harrington had attempted to get into the house May 31, 1977, but didn't carry through his effort to burglarize the Raymond's home. The next day he captured Mrs. Raymond after she came home from shopping and then took her to the Hogsback Road site. Once the prosecution completed its case Friday, Feb. 17, Harrington took the stand as witness in his own defense.

The case went to the jury, and Wednesday, Feb. 22, they found Harrington guilty on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of kidnapping.

At his sentencing Monday, March 20, Chenango County Court Judge Irad S. Ingraham gave Harrington three concurrent terms of from 20 years to life at Attica State Prison. Prior to the sentencing, Marshall said that in his experience, "this is one of the most vicious, cruel and calculating homicides that has ever happened in this county of ours."

According to the state Department of Correctional Services, Robert L. Harrington is listed as deceased, discharged Jan. 5, 2011.

He had been moved at some point during his terms to a medium security prison in Cayuga County.

This weekend: 1937 was a turning point year of progress for a Cooperstown museum.

City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or e-mail him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.

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