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Stoughton officer resigns amid probe sparked by woman’s suicide. Friends say she was pregnant with his baby.

Matthew Farwell and Stoughton police Chief Donna McNamara from 2017.Facebook

A Stoughton police officer resigned Friday amid a year-long internal investigation initiated last year after the suicide of a 23-year-old woman who told friends she was pregnant with his baby.

Officials placed Officer Matthew G. Farwell, 36, on paid administrative leave shortly after Sandra Birchmore was found dead inside her Canton apartment on Feb. 4, 2021, town records show.

Birchmore had told several friends she met Farwell when she was a teenager and he was an instructor in a police explorers program. Three of Birchmore’s friends told the Globe that the two embarked on a sexual relationship when she was 15, that it continued through his marriage to another woman, and that Birchmore said she became pregnant with Farwell’s child in late 2020. The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16.


State troopers assigned to Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey’s office investigated the death and shared the findings with Stoughton police.

“During the death investigation, we uncovered allegations and circumstances that we explored and found sufficiently credible to refer to Stoughton police for further investigation and action,” said David Traub, a Morrissey spokesman, on Friday in an e-mail.

Stoughton officials declined to specify the allegations, but vowed the internal probe would be thorough.

Sandra Birchmore. Family photo

“Allegations like this are extremely serious and they must be investigated thoroughly,” said Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara.

In May, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner concluded Birchmore died by suicide and confirmed she was pregnant at the time of her death, according to her death certificate. Records do not indicate the father’s identity. Farwell has children from his marriage.

In a statement released through his attorney, Farwell called Birchmore’s death tragic and said he had no role in it.

“Contrary to your questions, I have not committed any crimes,” the statement said. Farwell’s lawyer, Patrick Hanley, said his client would not comment further.


David Procopio, a Massachusetts State Police spokesman, said the evidence established that Birchmore died by suicide.

“We provided certain other learned information to the Stoughton Police Department regarding a member of that agency, with the knowledge that it warranted, and that they would undertake, an internal investigation,” he said in an e-mail.

In the past year, authorities have said little about the nature of Farwell’s leave or the Stoughton police investigation. The agencies previously refused to release records related to the case.

In light of Farwell’s resignation, Morrissey’s office on Thursday released a redacted police report about Birchmore’s death that made no mention of the officer.

On March 11, Farwell submitted a letter indicating his resignation would take effect Friday, according to Stoughton Town Manager Robin A. Grimm. Farwell collected nearly $89,000 in wages during his paid administrative leave, Grimm said.

“Any time we have troubling allegations regarding any of our police officers, we put them on paid administrative leave as the law requires,” she said. “This situation was no different.”

When the internal investigation is completed, Grimm said it will be turned over to the state’s newly formed Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, which has the authority to decertify police officers.

The records released by Morrissey’s office included correspondence from August about the decision by prosecutors to include Farwell on its list of officers whose credibility has been called into question. The correspondence includes Farwell’s name in an internal e-mail with the subject, “Birchmore/Stoughton PD Investigation.”


Morrissey’s office said it had other records pertaining to its investigation into Birchmore’s death, but it was withholding them at the request of Stoughton police, which is still interviewing witnesses as part of its internal probe into Farwell.

“Disclosure of the reports prior to these interviews could create a chilling effect and dissuade the voluntary witnesses from coming forward to report police misconduct,” Assistant District Attorney Meagen K. Monahan wrote in a letter to the Globe.

Morrissey’s office had previously withheld all records sought by the Globe, citing ongoing investigations. The Globe appealed to the state Supervisor of Records, who ruled the records could be kept secret for now.

A friend of Birchmore’s, Lesley Davis, 26, told the Globe she went shopping with Birchmore weeks before her death, and that she bought a $200 stroller for Birchmore.

Birchmore told her Farwell was the baby’s father, Davis recalled, and also told her about tension between them and an alleged dispute in which she claimed Farwell pushed her.

“It seemed like he was not happy about the child,” Davis said.

Davis said a Massachusetts State Police trooper contacted her about Birchmore’s death, and questioned whether Birchmore was being truthful about her relationship with Farwell.

“I don’t think she was lying about it,” Davis said.

Davis said she did not hear from the trooper again.

“There were a lot of open questions that I wish got answered,” she said.

Birchmore’s cousin, Angelique Pirozzi, said she was vulnerable.


“She was excited for this baby,” Pirozzi said. “It felt like things were starting to come together for her. The family is sad that she didn’t make it to that place.”

Farwell had a long history with the police explorers program, which introduced youth to law enforcement careers. The program ended in 2016, McNamara said, because of waning interest.

In a pre-employment questionnaire that Farwell submitted to Stoughton police in 2010, he wrote that he was an assistant instructor for the program and listed the start date for his employment as September 1998, when he was 12 years old.

A US Army veteran, Farwell was a patrolman for the Wellesley Police Department before joining the Stoughton force in 2012.

Birchmore grew up in Stoughton, where she was raised by her mother, grandmother, and an aunt. In 2016, her mother and grandmother died about a month apart, and her aunt died in 2019.

Another aunt, Darlene Smith, was appointed to be the personal representative of Birchmore’s estate. She didn’t return a voice mail left Friday and her lawyer declined to comment.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.