fb-pixel Skip to main content

Two suspects held without bail in Lowell kidnapping case; man found dead inside freezer

Michael Burke (center) and Samantha Perry (not pictured) were arraigned in Lowell District Court MondayCameron Morsberger / Lowell Sun/Lowell Sun

A man and woman charged with kidnapping a man whose body was found in their Lowell home inside a chest freezer were ordered held without bail Monday pending a dangerousness hearing next week, while court documents indicate the man was likely tortured before his death.

Samantha E. Perry, 38, and Michael Burke, 38, were arraigned in Lowell District Court Monday as Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office investigates how the 37-year-old man died.

A detective searching the basement opened the freezer and found “the body of a white male shoved into the freezer head first, with the back and upper torso visible. The body appeared to have been folded over and compacted to fit into the freezer,” according to a police report.


The victim, whose name was redacted in the report, had his shirt pulled up, showing bruising on his back, the report said. “Duct tape was visible on the male’s upper arms and chest.”

There appeared to be a “car tie down strap around the body, as well as a white plastic shopping bag in the area of the head and/or neck, though that portion of the body was not entirely visible,” the report added.

According to the report, Perry told investigators she and Burke stood by while a third party attacked the victim, wrapping a rope around his neck and strangling him. The identity of the alleged third party was redacted.

District Court Judge Daniel C. Crane ordered Perry and Burke held pending a dangerousness hearing on Dec. 14. During a brief hearing, neither prosecutors nor lawyers for Perry and Burke said what prompted the kidnapping charges.

According to court records, Perry is also being prosecuted in Lawrence District Court on charges of breaking and entering in the nighttime. She has pleaded not guilty and been free on $500 bail, records show. The circumstances of that arrest were not available.


The victim was reported missing by family members after he missed Thanksgiving dinner and wasn’t seen or heard from for a week after that , according to the report.

A woman called Lowell police on Nov. 28 and said she was aware that a person was “duct taped to a chair” in the back shed or basement of a Lowell residence, according to the report. The woman’s name and the address she reported were redacted. Lowell police dispatchers tried to get more information, but the call was ended, the report said.

The man’s body was discovered by police on Friday morning, according to the report. The address was redacted but officials previously said the home is on Coburn Street.

On Thursday, police went to the home and Perry answered the door, according to the report. When police asked if they could search the home’s basement, Perry reportedly acquiesced but asked for some time to “get ready.” She returned to the door 30 minutes later and rescinded her permission for police to search the home, according to the report.

Police repeated their request and Perry again agreed, only to go back inside for 45 minutes and return to take back permission again, according to the report.

Police executed a search warrant at the home Friday morning. In the basement, an officer saw an ice chest with an AC unit sitting on the lid. The officer removed the unit, opened the freezer, and found the man’s body inside.


Also in the basement, police found a wooden chair in the middle of the room with duct tape wrapped around it and a strap of nylon cord tied to one of the chair’s legs, according to the report.

John Hilliard and Mike Bello of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.