Mary Stetson, the missing mother, whose body parts were found in a duffel bag in the Piscataquog River almost two decades ago, is the next intriguing true-crime story to air on Swamp Murders, the hit show that airs weekly on Investigation Discovery. The episode, titled, "River Monster," will follow the trail of police as they hurry to find a missing mother-of-five. But, when swimmers make a grisly discovery, all hopes of finding the mother in tact are crushed.
Swimmer Finds Woman's Torso In New Hampshire's Piscataquog River
In July, 1999, a swimmer saw something floating in the water in the Piscataquog River. As he moved in closer, he could see that the object was a duffel bag. Interested to know what was inside, he unzipped the waterlogged bag and peered inside. What he saw was unimaginable and undeniable. It was the torso of a woman's body. There were no limbs and the head had been chopped off.
By now, police were sure that this was the body of Mary Stetson, the 40-year-old missing mother whose daughter, Tamara Haney, had called police to report her mother missing hours earlier. According to the daughter, her family last saw Mary Stetson at their Kimball Street home in Manchester, reported the Sun Journal.
Autopsy: African American Mother Viciously Stabbed
The remains were sent to the lab for an autopsy, which later determined that the female had been stabbed multiple times before she was decapitated. One thing was for sure: whoever had done it had dismembered the body with precision.
News of the headless torso made headlines, and one viewer who was watching the local coverage, soon gave police a tip that blew the case wide open.
Ex-Wife Thinks Husband Killed Missing Woman
The tip came from a woman who visited her ex-husband, Vaclav Plch, an immigrant and Czech national, who had recently vanished from his home located at 145 Orange Street. The ex-wife told police that when she first heard about the dismembered body that was found in the Piscataquog River, she remarked that it sounded like something that Vaclav "William" Plch, would do. However, she never dreamed that it could be true. It wasn't until she stepped into Vaclav's bedroom, and she saw his duffel bag and part of the carpet missing, that she realized that he was most likely the killer. Caselaw court records describe the exchange like this.
"On August 5, 1999, the defendant's ex-wife, Donna Plch, reported him missing to the Manchester Police. Ms. Plch called the police again the next morning and asked that an officer be sent to the defendant's apartment. She apparently informed the dispatcher that she hadn't seen the defendant in approximately a month and that a large section of carpet was missing from his bedroom. After obtaining some basic information from Ms. Plch, Officer Roers asked why she had mentioned the missing rug in her call to the police. Ms. Plch then opened the door to the defendant's bedroom and walked in. Officer Roers followed. Ms. Plch showed Officer Roers where a section of carpet had been cut and pointed out that the defendant's fishing tackle was scattered around the room and the bag that usually contained it was missing."
During the police interrogation, Billy Plch admitted bringing Mary Stetson to his apartment, where they argued and things got out of hand. Still, he said he didn't realize what he had done until he stumbled to the bathroom during the early morning hours and realized that there was a body lying in a pool of blood.
Instead of calling police, he decided to use his meat-cutting skills to dismember the body and discard it in the river. For his crime, Vaclav Plch was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without any chance for parole.
The death of Mary Stetson was devastating for her children and for others who loved her dearly. Vaclav Plch's wife believed that if she had come forward sooner about the domestic abuse that she endured with William Plch, he may not have had the chance to kill an innocent woman.
Aftermath: Living In Hell Town
After the murder of Mary Stetson, neighbors felt as if the apartment had bad energy, according to one neighbor, referring to the 2013 incident, where a man was shot in the face inside of the same apartment. And for another neighbor, who resided in the same apartment complex, it was like living in hell town, Valerie Fontaine told the New Hampshire Union Leader.
"I heard a couple of young guys downstairs arguing. To me, it sounded like they were threatening him. I'm friggin' freaking out. I feel like I've moved into the apartment at the corner of hell town and murder city."
[Photo by Dick Morin-Pool/AP File]