As technology evolves, homicide detectives need specialized skills

By Miharu Sugie

It could be 3 a.m. or 10 p.m. The detective could be at his or her child’s birthday party, enjoying a day off. All of that no longer matters when a homicide detective gets a call. Within minutes, detectives are at the crime scene, working behind the yellow caution tape, keeping their ears to the ground and eyes wide open for any evidence that could lead to a suspect.

Until a few decades ago, it was normal to see homicide detectives at the crime scene writing reports by hand, identifying suspects with blood typing and typing out the reports on a typewriter. Now, typewriters and blood typing are replaced by technologically advanced and efficient tools. DNA testing is a standard method of identification. Even something simple as a video footage has been revolutionary in homicide investigations, according to sergeant detective Paul Donovan of the Boston Police Department’s Homicide Unit.

Being a homicide detective requires interpersonal skills and a high level of integrity, said Donovan, a seasoned Boston Police officer who joined the unit as a supervising sergeant detective from 2005 to 2009. Last year, he rejoined the unit as an administrative sergeant.

Boston Police headquarters

Boston Police headquarters

Police departments look for homicide detectives who know court personnel and court procedures and who can interact well with witnesses, the accused, victims, and the district attorney’s office. A high school diploma and professional training have always been the minimum requirement. Recently, however, that has changed.

“The level of technological skill goes well beyond the old days of just speaking to people and taking notes,” said James Alan Fox, a criminology, public policy and law professor at Northeastern University. “Now, this still happens, people take notes, but let me also say that police generally should be educated … and they trend towards more and more departments requiring a minimum of a college degree.”

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Chin sentenced to life in prison for domestic violence murder

A Lynn man who killed his ex-girlfriend in 2013 and dumped her body in an East Boston parking garage, has been sentenced to life in prison.

On Monday, a jury convicted Chhoeut Chin, 43, of the second-degree murder of 32-year-old Sherry Leigh Bradley. A judge sentenced him on Wednesday after Bradley’s daughter delivered a victim impact statement to the court.

Chin and Bradley, who also lived in Lynn, had been in an abusive relationship in the spring and summer of 2013. Trial testimony revealed that Chin threatened, harassed and abused Bradley, and began stalking her and waiting outside the home where she moved in late July. Sherry_Bradley

On the night of July 31, Bradley was hanging out in her home with a friend when she left to get food, but never returned. On the morning of Aug. 1, a blue Mazda entered an East Boston parking garage, and .

Although investigators were never able to establish where Bradley was murdered, they built a case around Chin that included surveillance video footage, witness statements and cellphone records. Officials ruled Bradley’s death a homicide in 2014, and Chin was indicted for her murder.

In court, Bradley’s daughter, who is now 16 years old, called Chin an “evil man” and recalled the pain of burying her mother.

No child should have to see her mother like that,” the girl said. “I try my hardest to make my mom proud. It was not her time. It was too soon.”

A second-degree murder conviction comes with a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 or more years. Judge Jeffrey Lock set Chin’s parole eligibility at 20 years.

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley reminds victims of domestic abuse and violence that they should call 911 in an emergency, but there are also other resources available:

SafeLink, a statewide DV hotline, can be reached at 877-785-2020. SafeLink is answered by trained advocates 24 hours a day in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as TTY at 877-521-2601. It also has the capacity to provide multilingual translation in more than 140 languages.

Perez re-arraigned for 2013 murder after key witness returns

By Alec Cheung

The man accused of killing Edward Villalona in March of 2013 has been re-arraigned on murder charges.

Yerri Perez, 24, was ordered held without bail after a Friday indictment for the first-degree murder of Villalona, who was shot and killed on March 31, 2013, which was also Easter day. 

Yerri Perez

Yerri Perez

Perez was first arrested in August of 2013, charged with shooting Villalona to death. Yet a key witness to the crime left the country before Perez was set to go on trial. In December, the trial was pushed back once more, and at a hearing in January, the DA’s office withdrew their indictment. Spokesman Jake Wark told Homicide Watch Boston that prosecutors had “every intention of moving forward with the case,” and investigators from the DA’s office worked to locate the witness through the winter.

The “previously missing” witness returned to Massachusetts recently, and Perez was indicted again on Friday.

During the indictment, Perez’s defense attorney, Rosemary Scapicchio, cited specific legal rules and said that due to  “speedy trial issues,” the indictment should not be happening and that the whole trial should be voided.

“We were ready to go to trial much earlier, they weren’t, and now they’re indicting him on the same charges,” Scapicchio said after the indictment. “It’s a serious violation on Mr. Perez’s constitutional rights.”

Prosecutors argued that Perez should be held without bail due to an “overwhelming amount of evidence,” which included a physical description of Perez by eyewitnesses, eyewitness testimony of his appearance in a white Ford Flex, the same car the suspect fled the crime scene from, as well as witness testimony of Perez’s reaction to the victim’s death. “That’s what b***h n****** get,” Perez allegedly said after Villalona’s death.

Scapicchio further argued that the defendant should not be held at all since he did not try to flee the country after he was let out on bail, and that he had met every single court appearance to date. Perez is also facing unrelated heroin trafficking charges in Suffolk Superior Court.

Although a specific trial date was not set, prosecutors and the defense agreed to set the date before April 17, 2017.

Second suspect arrested for Mission Hill murder

Police have arrested a second man in connection with the December murder of D’Andre King-Settles, the 17-year-old shot and killed on Annunciation Road.

The shooting happened around 4 p.m. on Dec. 18, 2015 around a playground near the apartment complex where King-Settles lived with his family. At the time of the incident, a witness described seeing multiple people around King-Settles body after the shooting.

D'Andre King-Settles

D’Andre King-Settles

In late February, members of the Boston Police fugitive unit, along with members of the Randolph Police Department, arrested 17-year-old Tsunami Ortiz and charged him with murder. At his arraignment, prosecutors alleged that Ortiz, and another suspect who was not named, stalked and killed King-Settles.

Officers arrested that second suspect last Thursday, March 31. Enrique Auch, 18, of Revere, after spotting him in Jamaica Plain. Friday, Auch was arraigned in Roxbury District Court on multiple charges, including murder, armed assault to murder, and multiple firearm-related charges. He was ordered held without bail.

The Suffolk County District Attorney told the Globe he expects to arraign Auch in Suffolk Superior Court on the murder charge.


Police release video related to Thanksgiving shooting, ask for public’s help

Boston Police have released video footage from Yawkey Way near Fenway Park in hopes that someone will recognize the man in the video, who police say “may have valuable information” about the shooting that later happened outside a nearby bar, killing Jephthe Chery.

Around 2 a.m. last Thanksgiving Day, a gunfight erupted outside the bar Who’s on First, and a bullet hit and killed 30-year-old Chery, a bystander who police say had no involvement in the violence.

One of the men allegedly involved in the firefight, Dominique Carpenter-Grady, has been arraigned on firearms charges. No one has yet been arrested in connection with Chery’s murder.

Police released a surveillance video of Yawkey Way before the shooting, which shows a black man wearing a camouflage print jacket pacing in the area before the shooting. Police the hope that someone who recognizes him will contact homicide detectives and tell them his identity. According to Boston Police:

At this time, investigators only wish to speak with him about his observations at the scene.

Anyone with information about the man in the video, the shootings, or Chery’s murder, is asked to call BPD homicide detectives at 617-343-4470. People who wish to leave anonymous tips can call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS, or text the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Sunday’s shooting victim identified

The victim of a shooting early Sunday in Mattapan has been identified.

Chaz Burton

Chaz Burton

Police found Chaz Burton, 26, of Lynn, around 2:10 a.m. shot near the lobby of an apartment building at 227 River St. in Mattapan. Burton was pronounced dead at the scene. Another person was stabbed, but his injuries were non-life threatening and emergency responders took him to the hospital.

Neighbors said they believe the incident happened after an argument at a party inside an apartment spilled outside and turned violent. Boston Police continue to investigate. No suspects have been arrested.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Boston Police homicide unit at 617-343-4470. Anonymous tipsters can call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS, or text ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Early morning violence kills 1, injures 1 in Mattapan

An outbreak of violence on River Street in Mattapan left one man dead and another injured early Sunday morning.

Police responded to a radio call for a person stabbed at 227 River St. around 2:10 a.m. on March 27. At the scene, in the lobby of an apartment complex, police officers found one man who had been shot multiple times and another man who was stabbed. Police estimate both men to be in their 20s.

Officials pronounced the shooting victim dead at the scene, and the stabbing victim was taken to Carney Hospital in Dorchester, to be treated for his injuries, which were non-life threatening.

Neighbors reported hearing argument at a birthday party in an apartment, on the third floor, which then spilled outside and turned violent according to The Boston Globe. Someone reportedly called police as the people arguing moved outside, but the violence began before officers arrived. A Globe reporter spoke with a woman who found the two men in the lobby shortly after 2 a.m.:

Allysha Pierre, 20, said she encountered a shirtless man at the front of the lobby. He complained about being stabbed in the back and calmly showed Pierre a deep cut, she said.

“I can’t believe I just got stabbed,” the man kept muttering, according to Pierre.

The injured man pointed Pierre to a second victim, who lay face down and motionless on the floor inside a nearby doorway, she said.

The second man was keeled over, Pierre said, though at the time she presumed he was “passed out.”

There was also a knife on the ground, according to Pierre.

Pierre told the Globe she did not recognize either man and did not believe either  was a resident of the building.

Police have not released the victims’ identities, and have not made any arrests in connection to the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Boston Police homicide detectives at 617-343-4470. People who wish to leave an anonymous tip can call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS, or can text the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Police identify East Boston shooting victim

Police have identified the man shot and killed in East Boston on Tuesday night.

Luigi Epifania

Luigi Epifania

Luigi Epifania, 32, was shot multiple times outside 7 Wordsworth St. around 10:30 p.m. Epifania was rushed to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Police believe the motive for the shooting may have been drug-related.

No arrests have been made yet in the case.

Police continue to investigate and ask anyone with information about the incident to call the Boston Police Homicide Unit at 617-343-4470. Anyone who wishes to leave an anonymous tip can call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS, or text ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Man killed in Roxbury shooting identified

The man who was killed in a shooting early Monday in Roxbury has been identified.

Allex Bryant

Allex Bryant

The shooting happened around 3:05 a.m. Monday morning outside 66 Humboldt Ave. Police found Allex Bryant, 28, of Boston, dead in the passenger seat of a car parked nearby, according to reports. One other person was injured in the shooting.

Neighbors in an apartment building in the area reported hearing an argument inside one of the apartments around 2:30 a.m. before the commotion spilled out onto the street.

No arrests have been made. Police are continuing to investigate, and ask anyone with information about the incident to call the Boston Police Homicide Unit at 617-343-4470. Anonymous tips can be left by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or texting the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Man killed in East Boston shooting Tuesday night

Two separate shootings in Boston Tuesday night led to several injuries and one fatality.

Around 10:30 p.m., Boston Police responded to a radio call of a person shot around 7 Wordsworth St. in East Boston. At the scene, officers found a man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. EMS transported the victim to Mass. General Hospital, according to CBS Boston. The victim was later pronounced dead.

Police have not released the man’s identity, but said he was in his 20s. The motive for the shooting may have been drug-related, according to the Boston Globe.

About an hour later, a shooting in Jamaica Plain on School Street wounded two people, a man and a woman. The woman remains in the hospital in critical condition, according to the Globe.

Police are actively investigating the East Boston homicide and ask anyone with information to call Boston homicide detectives at 617-343-4470. To leave an anonymous tip, call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS, or text the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).