A 41-year-old man has been arrested after the murder of three elderly residents in their Newton home over the weekend, Middlesex DA Marian Ryan announced after the slayings rattled the community.
“Today, I am back to tell you that just a few minutes ago, we were able to place under arrest an individual named Christopher Ferguson, age 41, from Newton,” said Ryan around 8 p.m. Monday. “Mr. Ferguson is right now charged with murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and burglary in connection to the incident that occurred yesterday.”
The arrest ends a two-day manhunt for the killer after Jill D’Amore, 73, her husband Bruce D’Amore, 74, and her mother, Lucia Arpino, 97, were found apparently stabbed and beaten to death in their home Sunday morning.
Ryan said Ferguson has only been charged with one count of homicide because the medical examiner has so far only conducted an autopsy on Jill D’Amore and ruled her death a homicide. After the two other autopsies, which are expected to be conducted tomorrow, Ryan said she expects the suspect will be faced with “additional charges.”
The victims were found just after 10 a.m. Sunday morning when a neighbor came to check on them when they failed to show up for church and the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration, Ryan said.
All had suffered from apparent knife injuries and blunt force trauma, with over 30 stab and trauma wounds identified on Jill D’Amore, Ryan said. By 10:20 a.m. Sunday, they were pronounced dead on scene.
Police identified signs of forced entry in the basement, a struggle in one of the bedrooms and a bloody knife in the kitchen, Ryan said.
They also found bloody bare footprints on the tile hallway floor, which can be matched to a suspect like fingerprints, the DA said, and potentially usable fingerprints on removed window screens.
Police obtained a video four-tenths of a mile from the crime scene and about 100 feet from the residence believed to be Ferguson’s, she continued. On it, officers saw a shirtless, shoeless male figure apparently staggering around 5:20 a.m.
“Several officers when shown that video were able to make identification of the individual depicted on the video as Mr. Ferguson, who was known to them,” said Ryan.
The footprints taken from the tile floor were matched to an impression from Ferguson, Ryan said, leading the police to issue the warrant for his arrest.
Ferguson was hospitalized after he was placed under arrest, Ryan said, and details of the arraignment are not yet available, as of Monday night.
Ferguson has long lived in the Newton community, Ryan said, and authorities have not yet found any connection between the suspect and the slain family.
The DA and police thanked the community for their help during the search and the investigators for their tireless work finding the suspect.
“Newton is a safe city,” said Newton Police Chief John Carmichael at the press conference. “However, this is a reminder that senseless acts of violence do take place in cities such as ours, and it is very important that we remain vigilant.”
Carmichael added that the community will gather from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening in the Horace Mann Elementary School auditorium to “sit down and have a community conversation relative to our response to this, as well as how we heal as a community following this tragic event.”
The victims were identified and lovingly remembered in a letter from their relatives to their Our Lady Help of Christians church community sent Monday afternoon.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share that the terrible tragedy that happened yesterday in Newton hit very close to home… impacting our faith community and our own family,” the letter said.
The pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians Father Dan Wiley said the three were “salt-of-the-earth, wonderful people” and “full of warmth and hospitality.”
“We’ll all particularly feel the loss of these three people,” Wiley said.
The family’s letter noted how Jill D’Amore spent “endless hours” taking care of the church’s flowers and decorating for the liturgical seasons.
Bruce D’Amore, the letter said, “was known for his big voice and his exuberant personality and as ‘head chef,’ he proudly flipped the burgers at the parish picnic.”
Lucia Arpino never missed a 10 a.m. mass up until the pandemic, attending for over 60 years, and faithfully walking in the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Festa procession each year.
To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the couple would’ve been blessed and renewed their vows in front of the congregation and celebrated with their family and friends, Wiley said.
In just the last day, the community’s response to the tragedy has been “phenomenal,” Wiley said, with members gathering and offering support to one another and for the family.
“In the midst of horrible evil, there’s been incredible, generous good,” the pastor said.
The church is planning to host a gathering to remember the three parishioners, Wiley said, which they will announce to the community shortly.
“Many in our faith community are grieving this great loss,” the family said in the letter. “We ask for your prayers for them, most especially for their three children and their five grandchildren.”
Rick Sobey contributed to this report.