Policy called for troopers to look into a cold case if they were not working on a current homicide.
So, in 2000, an investigator drove to the Allenstown scene to check on the proximity of barrels on the property to a road and a mobile home park close by. The property included a trailer and the remains of a burned camp store.
In another barrel, the trooper found two more bodies -- a girl between 1 and 3 and another aged 2 to 4. Tests indicated the woman whose body was found earlier was related to the younger child. So far, the girl between 2 and 4 has not been linked to the woman.
Suddenly, everything changed.
Instead of a mother and child, police broadcast that they had four victims, meaning old assumptions were gone.
"So much can change in that span" of time, Ebert says of evidence and investigative leads.
Police spoke to between 50 and 100 individuals, including the property owner and residents of the mobile home park. Now the case is getting a fresher look.
"We are reanalyzing each and every person," says Ebert.
The department, when the NCIC broadcasts went out in 1985 and 2000, was flooded with information. "We took great pains to rule people out."
The sergeant acknowledges that many may question why it took 15 years to find a second barrel 100 yards from the other. "How do four people go missing and nobody knows it"?
The sergeant cites resources needed for the Hookset murder, the number of people in the major crime unit and the fact that autumn leaves covered much of the property.
"They did the best with what they had at the time," he says.
"I keep an open mind to everything"
Williamson, of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, tells CNN that she and her team are awaiting results of more comprehensive DNA testing of the remains of the woman and young girls.
They are being aided by additional autopsy photos not available years ago.
Evidence indicates the victims were white, but investigators do not know skin tone or eye color. The bones were not in the best condition, given they were exposed to the elements and years of deterioration, says Williamson. They may have died as early as 1977 or 1978.
Joe Mullins, a forensic imaging specialist with the center, used newer technology to make the facial reconstructions. The use of clay directly applied on skulls is no longer necessary.
Investigators caution people looking at the reconstructions to focus on specific facial features.
"Don't expect this to look like a Polaroid of the family member," says Ebert.
Based on evidence and poor dental care, officials believe the four may not have been visible members of society.
"If they interacted with people on regular basis and suddenly disappeared you would expect somebody to say something," says Williamson, a forensic scientist.
And they may not have been in a traditional family setting.
"I don't think they were regularly in school and went home and had dinner with mom and dad every night," says Williamson.
Ebert says, although it is a possibility, his hunch is the victims are not from New Hampshire. They could be from Boston, about 90 minutes away. Or Canada. Or more remote portions of the Granite State.
"I keep an open mind to everything," Ebert says.