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Man disguised as UPS driver shot Braintree woman with rifle hidden in box, prosecutor says

Braintree Police outside the home of Laurie Melchionda, who was allegedly shot to death in the doorway of her home by a former neighbor.
Braintree Police outside the home of Laurie Melchionda, who was allegedly shot to death in the doorway of her home by a former neighbor.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Dressed in brown like a UPS delivery person, Robert C. Bonang III allegedly used a rifle hidden inside a box to kill his former neighbor, Laurie Melchionda, when the Weston School administrator opened the door of her Braintree home Wednesday, authorities said Thursday.

Bonang, 61, wearing a surgical mask, a gray wig, brown pants and a jacket, arrived on Howie Road around 10:45 a.m. carrying a box. He walked up to Melchionda’s front door, frantically rang the doorbell and then allegedly shot her several times in the back and head when she came to the door, according to prosecutors and a police report.

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A teenage witness told authorities the shooter looked like a “fake UPS driver.”

The 59-year-old Melchionda, who had served on the Braintree Board of Health for several years, worked in the Braintree schools as a nurse, and was most recently in charge of the Weston school system’s health programs, was pronounced dead at South Shore Hospital at 11:24 a.m.

Bonang was arrested at the scene by Braintree police who had been called by the teenager and other residents of Howie Road where he was known as an “introvert” with paranoid thoughts who believed neighbors were following him, according to court records.

Bonang, who has been living in Marshfield, was arraigned virtually Thursday before Quincy District Court Judge Mark Coven, who ordered him held without bail after not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to a charge of murder and illegal firearm charges. He told the judge he will hire his own attorney.

Relatives of the victim were among those listening on the telephone as Bonang was arraigned. They could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Greg Connor and a Braintree police report filed in court, described the killing of Melchionda in her home on a quiet suburban street.

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The teenage witness, who was caring for a 6-year-old and pushing a 2-year-old in a stroller, spotted Bonang and felt “uncomfortable” about his appearance. The teen said he looked like a “fake UPS driver” carrying a “weird” box that did not look like other UPS boxes.

The teen let Bonang walk ahead and watched as he walked up to Melchionda’s front door, where he began ringing the doorbell. As the teen walked away, she heard screaming police wrote, turned and saw the man “shooting from the box.” She ran to a nearby home and called 911.

Another resident told police he saw Bonang on Melchionda’s lawn, moving about aimlessly, police wrote. At one point, Bonang fired a pistol six times into the lawn, the report said.

Bonang cooperated with police and was taken into custody at gunpoint. According to records, he did not provide an explanation for the shooting.

Authorities have said Bonang and Melchionda knew each other, but have not publicly identified a motive for the slaying. However, according to Braintree police records noted in a police report filed in court, Bonang was a long-time resident of Howie Road who had lived there with his elderly father.

The police report said neighbors described Bonang as an introvert who “hardly ever was seen outside of the home, and was basically taken care of by his elderly father.”

Bonang’s father was 90 years old when he died in April 2014.

Police said they had two contacts with Bonang before this week.

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On Nov. 27, 2009, his sister Catherine reported “a verbal domestic” between the two and told officers that he had been ‘institutionalized’ on more than one occasion.

Catherine called police again on June 12, 2014, and asked that he be involuntarily committed to a mental health hospital saying that he “was delusional and exhibiting ‘paranoid behavior,' “ police wrote.

After the shooting, police said they found a gray wig, recently fired .22-caliber pistol, police scanner, and digital recorder near Bonang when they arrested him. Near the front door was a cardboard box with a UPS sticker affixed to it.

“The ‘UPS’ box was modified so that on the front of the box, there was a cutout, which exposed the muzzle,” police wrote. “In the opposite corner of the box, the flap was cut to allow manipulation of the trigger. On the left side of the box, there were two ‘squares’ of cardboard, which were taped on the side, to allow a right handed shooter to grab the box with his ‘off hand.' ”

Robert Bonang's booking photo.
Robert Bonang's booking photo.Braintree Police Department


Police said the box was insulated inside “for the purpose of stabilizing the rifle.” The box hid the rifle from view, they said, and collected ejected shell casings.

Bonang did not have a license to own a firearm, officials said.

Melchionda was hired in 2018 as the director of health services for Weston Public Schools as well as the school nurse at Field Elementary School.

“Laurie brought professionalism, expertise, warmth, and caring to our school community every day,” Weston schools Superintendent Midge Connolly wrote in a letter posted to the district’s website. “We will be spending many difficult moments grieving her loss.”

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Melchionda “made a tremendous impact in supporting the health and well-being of all of our students, working closely with her nursing staff, educators, families, service providers, and town leaders,” Connolly wrote.

The mayor of Braintree, Charles C. Kokoros, remembered Melchionda as “a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to all who knew her, myself included.”

She worked as a nurse with the Braintree Public Schools from 1997 until June 2018 and had served on the town’s health board since 2016.

Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.