A relative of Vanessa MacCormack, the beloved second-grade teacher who was brutally murdered in her Revere home in September, had sharp words for MacCormack’s husband Tuesday after the spouse pleaded not guilty to killing her.
“Don’t even look at us,” the male relative shouted at Andrew MacCormack, 29, at the conclusion of the hearing in Suffolk Superior Court.
Andrew MacCormack was ordered held without bail on a first-degree murder charge. He’s been held since his arrest days after the Sept. 23 slaying. A grand jury indicted him Oct. 31.
After Clerk Magistrate Lisa Medeiros on Tuesday denied a defense request for $50,000 bail, a female relative of Vanessa’s pumped her fist and said “yes!”
Also during the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum said Vanessa MacCormack, 30, suffered several stab and slash wounds to her face and neck.
One of those stab wounds might have been delivered after she died, Polumbaum said, and there was additional evidence that the killer used “pretty extreme force” in strangling her.
He said the medical examiner ruled that “a combination of all these different types of violence killed Vanessa.”
Her family members cried as Polumbaum described her injuries.
Andrew MacCormack wore a suit and appeared calm, a marked contrast from his earlier arraignment in Chelsea District Court, where he wept in the prisoner’s dock.
His lawyer, John Hayes, said during Tuesday’s hearing that his client “adamantly” denies the charge and hopes to reestablish a relationship with the couple’s 1-year-old daughter when the case is resolved.
At the mention of the girl, several of Vanessa MacCormack’s relatives, who have custody of the child, shook their heads.
Also Tuesday, Polumbaum reiterated the government’s theory of the wrenching case, telling Medeiros that Andrew MacCormack had a cocaine habit and had infuriated his wife for placing their finances in jeopardy.
Vanessa MacCormack had threatened in August to seek a divorce, Polumbaum said, and Andrew MacCormack responded via text, “You’re crazy. I’m not signing anything.”
Areas in the couple’s home were scrubbed clean with bleach after the killing, Polumbaum said, and Vanessa MacCormack’s body shows signs of a chemical burn consistent with bleach.
Andrew MacCormack left the couple’s home around 8:30 a.m. on the day of the killing and circled a nearby liquor store before returning, prosecutors said.
He left the house again around 12:50 p.m. and took “a circuitous route” to his friend’s home in Saugus to do carpentry work, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said in a statement. MacCormack had his daughter with him in Saugus.
While at his friend’s house, MacCormack texted his wife’s phone but “the evidence suggests she was already dead,” Polumbaum said. MacCormack left Saugus around 2:15 p.m. and met his drug dealer in East Boston a half-hour later to buy cocaine, according to prosecutors.
Polumbaum said MacCormack stopped briefly at a parking lot on the way home and reentered his house while talking on the phone with his mother-in-law. He informed her that he discovered Vanessa MacCormack lying on the floor, and her panicked mother told him, “do something. Do CPR,” according to Polumbaum.
Instead, MacCormack said, “She’s dead,” and only checked her neck for a pulse, the prosecutor said.
Polumbaum said police noted during an interview that MacCormack had a rash, which he blamed on a new laundry detergent. Police who searched the house found no sign of any bleach containers, and a kitchen knife was missing, Polumbaum said.
In addition, he said, blood traces were found in Andrew MacCormack’s SUV, and there was no sign of forced entry in the couple’s home.
Polumbaum added that Andrew MacCormack’s mother lived in the couple’s basement and told investigators she left the house to do errands before the murder.
Hayes told Medeiros that MacCormack gave multiple voluntary interviews to police after the murder and also led them on a videotaped walk-through of the crime scene.
“That’s not generally the behavior of a guilty person,” Hayes said.
As for their financial troubles, Hayes said “many couples go through problems” but “that doesn’t by itself prove that [MacCormack] killed his wife.” He said the couple were in a “strong relationship” despite their struggles.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 12.
Vanessa MacCormack taught at William P. Connery Elementary School in Lynn. Superintendent Catherine C. Latham described the murder as an “incomprehensible tragedy” soon after she was killed.
Andrew MacCormack was previously arrested in 2011 for allegedly dragging a different woman down two flights of stairs by her hair.
That case was dropped when the woman, who was dating MacCormack at the time, declined to participate in the prosecution.Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.