3 years on, a break in Quincy slaying

Evelin Valibayova was last seen in mid-July 2011.
Evelin Valibayova was last seen in mid-July 2011.

More than three years after she disappeared from her Quincy apartment, leaving behind a blood-soaked carpet and a devastated circle of family and friends, we now know who authorities suspect killed Evelin Valibayova.

And, if they are right, Valibayova was murdered by a monstrous man: a convicted kidnapper paroled in 2006, years earlier than the wishes of the federal judge who sent him away for 75 years.

Valibayova, a native of Azerbaijan, was last seen in mid-July 2011, caught on surveillance video as she exited the North Quincy Station on the Red Line. Since then, authorities have said only that they had found forensic evidence in her bedroom — and had a person of interest in the case.


The Norfolk district attorney’s office, in a court filing this week, for the first time has identified the chief suspect in her disappearance and apparent murder.

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He’s John D. Castonguay, who in 1986 lured a 9-year-old girl walking her puppy in Woonsocket, R.I., to a remote area of Blackstone, Mass., where he sexually and physically assaulted her in a gravel pit, leaving her naked and bleeding, tying a rope across her mouth, according to court records.

When Castonguay was sentenced for the brutal crime in June 1987, US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf virtually predicted that Castonguay, whom he called “very dangerous as well as very devious,’’ would offend again.

“The information available to me suggests that if you were back in the community, you would be susceptible . . . to committing another brutal offense,’’ Wolf told Castonguay, who is now 52, as he sentenced him to 75 years in federal prison.

In a court document filed this week in Norfolk Superior Court, authorities essentially said that Wolf’s sentencing remarks were prescient.


And, for Valibayova, officials believe the consequences were deadly.

Castonguay “was working as a handyman in her building at the time of her disappearance,’’ the court document states, “he had keys and unfettered access to her apartment, and he admitted to being in her apartment, including cleaning the apartment after her disappearance. [Castonguay] remains a suspect in this case.’’

Castonguay has not been charged in her disappearance or presumed death.

Valibayova is described by her family and friends as a bright, ambitious, and multilingual woman, trying to seize her part of the American dream, before she vanished.

“Beautiful, black-eyed, black-hair, incredibly charismatic — and very smart,’’ said Duncan Boyd, who was in a relationship with Valibayova when she disappeared. “She would admit to speaking eight languages but I think it was closer to a dozen.’’


Boyd said Valibayova told him Castonguay was performing repair work at her Hodges Avenue apartment shortly before her disappearance.

‘It’s pure lunacy to think that a man who kidnaps and rapes a young child deserves to be released early from prison.’

Brian T. Kelly, former assistant US attorney 

“She was uncomfortable being alone there with him,’’ Boyd said. “His presence made her uncomfortable for personal safety reasons. For lack of a better term, she thought he was creepy.’’

Valibayova had planned to video chat via Skype with her mother in Azerbaijan the day after she was last seen. But she missed that appointment.

Boyd became alarmed about Valibayova’s whereabouts after she failed to report for a shift at a Cambridge restaurant; he accompanied Quincy police to Hodges Avenue within days of her disappearance.

The apartment was unlocked and most of Valibayova’s possessions, including some important personal documents, were missing.

Noting that authorities had recovered substantial forensic evidence from her bedroom, Boyd said: “There’s no way she could have lost that much blood and not be admitted to a hospital.’’

Boyd said authorities checked local hospitals and found that his girlfriend had not been treated in any of them.

“Evelin was murdered in her apartment and her body was disappeared,’’ said Boyd.

Investigators later found some of her belongings, including a brown shoulder bag, her cellphone, wallet, and other papers dumped in a Dorchester neighborhood.

Without a body, pursuit of a murder indictment against Castonguay is problematic.

Castonguay was paroled on Aug. 30, 2006, after serving time for kidnapping. His parole was revoked late last November.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the criminal division of the Department of Justice, said he could not discuss the rationale for Castonguay’s original release or the circumstances of his reincarceration last year.

He was arraigned on Thursday in Norfolk Superior Court on new charges relating to violation of his parole. Before that, he had been incarcerated at the federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J. He remains in custody.

Attempts to reach attorneys who have previously represented Castonguay were unsuccessful on Friday.

News of the identification of a suspect in her disappearance was sobering for close friends who remembered her as a woman whose eyes were fixed firmly on a bright future.

“It definitely has changed me,’’ said Christian Thornton, who owns a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard where Valibayova worked. She also worked as a nanny for his two children.

“She’s a remarkable young woman,’’ he said. “Her drive, her own investment in her future, and her education was impressive. Just terribly, terribly bright. There’s rarely a day that goes by when I don’t think of her.’’

Katie Murashka, whose friendship with Valibayova began when they both worked on Martha’s Vineyard, said her friend dreamed of becoming a successful businesswoman.

“She had very ambitious plans for herself and her future and she was ready to work for it,’’ Murashka said. “It’s a tragedy that something happened along the way.’’

Perhaps the roots of that tragedy can be found in the answer to this question: Why did Castonguay get out so early? Wolf sentenced Castonguay to 75 years, and had set a minimum sentence of 25.

Castonguay went to court and successfully challenged it.

At issue was a federal law on the books at that time that said a prisoner was eligible for parole after serving one-third of his term or after serving 10 years of a life sentence or a sentence of more than 30 years.

Castonguay argued that the federal law required that he become eligible for parole after he had served the lesser of either one-third of his sentence or 10 years.

An appeals court ruled that Wolf “exceeded [his] authority in setting as a minimum sentence, which must be served before parole eligibility could be considered, a term of 25 years. The sentence is vacated.”

OK. So the law says this man — this criminal who lured a 9-year-old girl into the woods by telling her he knew a great place to pick blueberries — was technically eligible for early release.

Fine. But a former federal prosecutor told me that parole authorities now have some explaining to do.

“It’s pure lunacy to think that a man who kidnaps and rapes a young child deserves to be released early from prison,’’ said Brian T. Kelly, a former assistant US attorney.

I’m betting that Judge Wolf would not disagree.

More coverage:

7/16/13: DA seeks help in 2-year-old disappearance of Quincy woman

8/15/12: Norfolk DA seeks public help in solving disappearance

Thomas Farragher is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at