Byline: Gary V. Murray
WORCESTER - It was a moment Clara J. Provost's family had been awaiting for 38 long years.
The wait was over shortly after 12:30 p.m. yesterday
when a Worcester Superior Court jury found Ronald C. Dame guilty of first-degree murder in the Jan. 6, 1974, slaying of the 23-year-old Ms. Provost in her apartment at 13 Highland Ave., in Fitchburg.
The jury of seven women and five men found that the killing of Ms. Provost, whose throat was slashed, was extremely cruel or atrocious.
Judge Richard T. Tucker postponed sentencing until Tuesday morning. Mr. Dame, now 65 years old, is facing a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.
The jury deliberated for about 5-1/2 hours over two days before reaching its verdict.
"We're very happy and relieved," said Ms. Provost's sister, Cindy Hastings, after the verdict was returned. Ms. Hastings testified as a witness in the case and sat through the remainder of the trial.
"Thirty-eight years is a long time, but finally it's here," she said.
"Isn't it wonderful, Sis?" asked Sheila Secord, another sibling, as she gave Ms. Hastings a tearful hug.
Mr. Dame, who had previously dated Ms. Provost, became a suspect in the case almost at the outset of the police investigation, but was not charged until 2006, after forensic testing linked him to the killing.
Fingernail scrapings from Ms. Provost's right hand contained Mr. Dame's DNA, prosecutors said.
Police observed scratches on Mr. Dame's left cheek when they questioned and photographed him the day Ms. Provost's partially clad body was found on her bed in a bedroom she shared with her 3-year-old son, Nelson Provost III.
Her head had been forced between the headboard and mattress and her throat had been slit, cutting her carotid arteries and jugular veins...