To read more about this story, see “Newton man held without bail on one count of murder and other charges tied to triple homicide.”
NEWTON — Something had changed with Christopher Ferguson.
A quiet man who friends say was kind to kids had become erratic, wandering the Newton neighborhood where he’d lived for years. He seemed manic and not himself on the street, with one friend saying his family “desperately” tried to get him help.
“We learned from people in his life that he was struggling,” Kyra Norsigian, who went to high school in Newton with Ferguson and then became friends with him. “Then I ran into him shortly after and noticed a marked difference in his behavior from the Chris I’d known the last seven years.”
Still, none of Ferguson’s behavior suggested he could become violent, people who knew him said.
Now, Ferguson is accused of a grisly crime, the stabbing deaths over the weekend of a husband and wife who had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and the woman’s mother, who was in her 90s.
“We are so devastated and our hearts are broken for all the families involved,” Norsigian said.
On Tuesday in Newton District Court, Ferguson, 41, pleaded not guilty to charges including murder related to the deaths of Gilda D’Amore, 73, her husband, Bruno D’Amore, 74, and her mother, Lucia Arpino, 97. Ferguson was ordered held without bail and is due back in court July 25.
The deaths — accompanied by warnings from authorities for neighbors to lock their doors — rocked the quiet Nonantum neighborhood where the family had lived for years.
“Many in our faith community are grieving this great loss. We ask for your prayers for them, most especially for their three children and their five grandchildren,” Paul and Ginny Arpino, two of the victims’ relatives, wrote in an e-mail.
In court, a prosecutor said police found bloody footprints that matched Ferguson’s bare feet in the house where the D’Amores and Arpino were found dead, each stabbed multiple times.
Prosecutors said video obtained by Newton police shows a shirtless, shoeless Ferguson staggering near the house around 5 a.m. Police — including one officer who went to high school with him — identified Ferguson from the video, according to court documents.
According to the documents, a woman who had been dating Ferguson said he’d been in a “manic episode” since February, suffering from bipolar disorder.
The woman told police she’d been with him Saturday night. They ran errands, she said, going to the nearby Target in the Arsenal Yards complex in Watertown and stopping by an apartment on California Street he said he was considering. They swung by the Washington Street home in Newton where he had been living with his sister to grab some alcohol and laundry.
Shortly after 10:30 that night, Ferguson reportedly left the woman’s house following an argument.
A friend of the victims found their bodies around 10:15 a.m. Sunday, when the D’Amores didn’t show up to Mass that morning and renew their vows as planned.
“Lucia Arpino had a knife embedded in her body; another knife with red-brown stains was found in the kitchen,” the filing said. “All three deceased had severe apparent knife injuries and blunt force trauma.”
Authorities said there were signs of forced entry.
Police found Ferguson at his home less than one mile from where the three were killed, with “filthy” feet and a bleeding hand, court documents state. Authorities believe they found his boots near another house several blocks away, and a backpack with his identification in a field nearby. They sought and received a 72-hour commitment to St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton for him.
Court documents do not detail a possible motive; on Monday, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said there were “no established connections between the family members and Mr. Ferguson.”
Ferguson’s lawyer declined to comment after the arraignment.
A man at a home listed as Ferguson’s father’s declined to comment, and a woman who answered the door of a home where Ferguson lived also declined to answer questions.
Ilana Margalit, who has lived near and been friends with Ferguson’s family for years, said he had recently been wandering the neighborhood, causing people to worry — about him, though, not themselves, she said.
Margalit said Ferguson’s sister told her that he was hospitalized for mental health issues earlier in June, but was back at home by June 20, even though the family wanted him to remain in the hospital longer.
“It feels to me 100 percent the failure of our mental health system,” Margalit said. “He has family who loves him, and have been trying their best to get him the help he needs.”
On Tuesday, neighbor Joseph Deluca recalled how Ferguson had gone to school with his son at the old Horace Mann Elementary School just down the road.
“I don’t know. I don’t get it,” Deluca said, sighing.
Deluca said Ferguson rang his doorbell the night he was arrested and had previously asked for money over Facebook. He also recalled a night a few weeks earlier when Ferguson had been behaving unusually
“He was walking around, he had his shirt off,” Deluca said. “He was dragging his feet and was down and out.”
Ferguson left his job at Framingham Public Schools earlier this year after two years as a campus aide, the school district confirmed.
He graduated from Newton North High School before heading to college and then some graduate school on the West Coast, according to friends.
Ferguson had one previous brush with the law, in 2005, when he was charged with assault and battery, according to court records. A news report from the time said he was accused of hitting his father. That case was dismissed.
Ferguson’s posts on social media suggest he was a driven man who cared deeply about his family, but who also seemed to be struggling.
He appeared to have an account on Medium, an online publishing platform, with a singular entry made in November 2020. In it, he discusses being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his early 20s, which friends confirmed he’d told them.
Ferguson’s Facebook profile includes a number of motivational quotes, including some from Ralph Waldo Emerson, pictures with loved ones, and lengthy posts about his goals for the future. Two of his most recent posts were in June, with one showing Ferguson and a woman wearing masks, and the other of him with another person at a baseball game.
Following the death of his mother, Marianne Mayfield, in June 2018, he changed his profile picture to a collage of his mother with friends and family members. Later, he changed it to a photo of a tattoo that reads, “Mama’s Boy.”
In one particularly long Facebook post from September 2020, Ferguson wrote of attending a recovery group and going through “both housing and food insecurity during lean times marked by instability.” But he said he was excited about the prospect of volunteering at a local food bank, one he said he visited “to make much-needed withdrawals.”
In the post, he attached a picture of a home, which he said his family moved into in 1987.
“There were a few years during the heights of my madness where I was not welcome, but the temporary suspension made me appreciate it more,” he wrote. “My family and a good number of friends are here; my clinical supports are here; my interests are here, so it only makes sense that I am, too, and gratefully so.”
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