After an anguished week of intense investigation, authorities said Thursday that Edwin J. Alemany will be charged in the death of Amy Lord, 24, whose kidnapping and stabbing horrified her South Boston neighborhood and led to scrutiny of Boston police for failing to stop her alleged attacker earlier in his long criminal career.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he had authorized a warrant charging the 28-year-old former busboy with Lord’s July 23 murder.
“The investigation reached a tipping point in the last 24 hours with witness statements, results from forensic testing, and surveillance imagery, but we still have a great deal of work to do,” Conley said. “This is an extraordinarily complex case.”
He declined to specify what evidence police had collected, but said that the case against Alemany became “clear and stronger each and every day.”
Officials have said that Lord was attacked as she left her Dorchester Street apartment early in the morning, was dragged back into the vestibule and viciously beaten, and was then driven to five ATMs to withdraw cash. She was found stabbed to death at Stony Brook Reservation in Hyde Park.
For days, Alemany had been called a person of interest in Lord’s killing, and he had already been charged with assaulting two other women in South Boston in a 24-hour span around the time of Lord’s death. But police, who were waiting on DNA evidence linking him to the crime, were unable to call him an official suspect in the slaying until the results of the DNA test were in. It is unclear when police received that evidence, but they maintained that the case will not depend on forensic evidence alone.
“We are very happy and hopeful as this case proceeds that we can bring justice to the Lord family,” said Commissioner Edward F. Davis, who stood alongside Conley at a press conference. “We’re happy we’ve taken the time to be certain, and today we are certain.”
James Greenberg, a lawyer who is representing Alemany on the assault charges, declined to comment.
Alemany, who has a long record of assaults and car thefts, was sent to Bridgewater State Hospital last week for a psychiatric evaluation after he told a clinician he was suicidal.
The warrant for his arrest on the homicide charge will be served at the hospital, officials said. A grand jury will soon begin hearing evidence in the case, Conley said.
In South Boston, where women began taking self-
defense classes after Lord’s death, many said they were relieved to hear of the arrest. But they also expressed a loss of confidence and a feeling of insecurity, especially since Lord’s actions the morning she was kidnapped were frighteningly mundane: She had risen early in the morning to head to the gym before work.
“I haven’t let my fiancee walk the dog at night,” said Joe McDonough, a 30-year-old teacher, as he stood at the corner of Dorchester Street and West Broadway “She even didn’t go to some of the early morning boot-camp classes on Carson Beach.”
Liz Sheehan, 18, said her sense of safety has been “dented,” leaving her to wonder who else on the street is a potential attacker.
“I know there are others out there,” she said, as she waited at a bus stop on West Broadway. “It’s scary to think how close to home it was. “
Outside Lord’s Dorchester Street apartment, a makeshift memorial remained of wilting daisies, votive candles, many melted down to the wicks, and a gray T-shirt from Bentley University, Lord’s alma mater. No one answered at her apartment, which she shared with three other people.
A friend of Lord’s, who asked to remain anonymous, called the arrest a “relief.”
But, she said, it was “horribly frustrating and sickening, on the other hand, to know he should have been locked up a long time ago.”
Boston police said they have launched an internal affairs investigation into the handling of a Sept. 28, 2012, assault, in which a young woman walking home was choked until she lost consciousness.
She did not see her assailant, but during the assault she grabbed something from his pocket. When she came to, she was holding a wallet containing Alemany’s identification card.
Despite that evidence, a Boston detective failed to pursue the case against Alemany, saying authorities did not have enough probable cause to bring the case to a clerk magistrate.
Davis said Alemany will now be charged with the crime. The investigator who handled the case, Jerome Hall-Brewster, an 18-year veteran, was stripped of his detective’s badge.
On Thursday afternoon, the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers released a statement, saying that Hall-Brewster, an African-American, had been mistreated by the department.
“Detective Jerome Hall-Brewster’s situation is a fine example of the double standard faced by minority officers in relation to discipline matters,” Lawrence Kelley, the association’s legal counsel, said in a statement.
“We hope he gets an opportunity to a fair and impartial investigation.”
Davis’s spokeswoman, Cheryl Fiandaca, said that Hall-Brewster received a “full and fair” investigation. “We encourage his right to appeal,” she said.
Hall-Brewster’s supervisors have yet to be interviewed.
During Thursday’s press conference, Conley was asked whether the judicial system failed to keep Alemany, who had accrued more than 30 criminal charges since his 18th birthday, behind bars.
Alemany did several stints in jail, from six months to 2½ years each, for a series of probation violations following arrests for assaults and thefts.
“Virtually every time he was before the court he was punished, and the sentences that were imposed were reasonable in the context that they were made at that time,” Conley said.
One case was a 2003 assault in which Alemany stabbed a pizza shop owner after the man confronted him for throwing a rock at his truck. That man, now 43 and the owner of a construction business, said he knew Alemany as a friend of the many young men in the neighborhood who hung out in his pizza shop.
Alemany pleaded guilty to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and served six months of a two-year sentence.
The man never saw Alemany again and was stunned to learn of the new allegations against him.
“She was so innocent,” the man said of Lord. “It’s just a shame. It would have been nice if he had been off the street a long time ago.”
Eric Moskowitz and Martin Finucane of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Patrick Rosso contributed to this report. Maria Cramer can
be reached at mcramer@
globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeMCramer.