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Investigators announce arrest in brutal slayings of three in Newton

Man charged in connection with Newton triple homicide
Forensics linked Newton man, Christopher Ferguson, to the deaths of three family members, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said Monday night.

For a newer version of this story, see “Newton man held without bail on one count of murder and other charges tied to triple homicide.”

NEWTON — Authorities said they arrested a 41-year-old Newton man on Monday in connection with the brutal slayings of three relatives, a crime that has devastated their tight-knit Nonantum neighborhood and left residents fearful for their safety.

Christopher Ferguson was arrested and charged in the killing of Gilda D’Amore, 73, whose body was found around 10 a.m. Sunday after she, her husband, Bruno D’Amore, 74, and her mother, Lucia Arpino, 97, did not attend services at Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said at a news conference on Monday night.

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The bodies of all three relatives were found inside their home Sunday morning by a friend, who called 911, Ryan said.

Lucia Arpino. (Middlesex DA)
Gilda D’Amore Middlesex DA
Bruno D’Amore Middlesex DA

Ferguson is also charged with two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and burglary in connection with the killings, according to Ryan.

An autopsy was conducted on the body believed to be Gilda D’Amore by the state medical examiner, who has ruled her death a homicide, Ryan said. Autopsies on the bodies believed to be those of her husband and mother are expected to be completed Tuesday.

Ryan said she expects additional charges to be filed against Ferguson in the case. He is set to be arraigned Tuesday in Newton District Court.


A woman left flowers on the sidewalk across the street from the home. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

The announcement of Ferguson’s arrest came as family members remembered their slain loved ones for their grace, love of life, and devotion to their community.

The D’Amores had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday.

Authorities disclosed the victims’ names after relatives identified them in a message sent to parish members on Monday. The church is about a mile from the victims’ Broadway home.

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“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,” wrote Paul and Ginny Arpino, parishioners who said Lucia Arpino was their aunt and the D’Amores were their cousins.

The Rev. Dan Riley, the pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Church, said he had known the family since he moved to the Roman Catholic parish more than six years ago.

Rev. Dan Riley, the pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians church.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

They were “just the best vision you could have of a Catholic Italian-American family,” Riley said Monday at the church. “They had family warmth, a tomato garden outside, hospitality. They were just great people.”

In their message, Paul and Ginny Arpino said Jill D’Amore “spent endless hours” working to beautify the church.

“Without a single day of liturgical training she simply followed her heart, caring for the flowers and decorating for the liturgical seasons,” they wrote.

Her husband, Bruno, proudly flipped burgers for the parish picnic as its “head chef” and was known for “his big voice and his exuberant personality,” they said.

Until the pandemic, Lucia Arpino never missed a 10 a.m. Mass, they said.

“Lucia will be especially missed on the upcoming Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Festa weekend as she faithfully walked in that procession through the streets of Nonantum well into her 90s,” they wrote.

Family members contacted by the Globe on Monday declined to comment and asked for privacy.

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The church is holding a Mass of Peace Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in remembrance of the family, Riley said.

“The agony of this tragedy is all too real. God’s love working through you is also real. Likewise, Jesus’ resurrection is real,” Riley wrote in an e-mail to worshipers.

The city will hold a community meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Horace Mann Elementary School to provide support for residents in the aftermath of the slayings.

Ryan said Monday that Gilda D’Amore suffered “over 30 stab and blunt-force trauma injuries, primarily to her body and head.”

Investigators found a crystal paperweight covered in blood in the bedroom where the bodies were discovered, Ryan said, and a knife with red and brown stains was found in the kitchen. There were “obvious signs of struggle” in the bedroom, including broken furniture, she said.

Police also saw evidence of forced entry through the basement of the home, where one window was open and others had their screens pried off, Ryan said. The garage door behind the house was also open, and a screen from one of the basement windows was found nearby.

Forensic investigators used chemicals on a ceramic tile floor outside the bedroom to find bloody footprints left by bare feet, Ryan said. The footprints were processed by investigators and matched an impression taken from Ferguson.

A key piece of evidence came in a security video from a home on Albemarle Road, less than half a mile from the D’Amore home and about 100 yards from a house on Washington Street that is believed to be Ferguson’s home, according to Ryan.

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The video showed a man wearing no shirt or shoes and walking “with what appeared to be a staggering gait” about 5:20 a.m. Sunday, Ryan said.

“Several officers who were shown that video were able to make an identification of the individual depicted on the video as Mr. Ferguson, who was known to them,” she said.

Authorities know of no connection between the victims and Ferguson, according to Ryan.

Ryan said there was also an attempted break-in about 5:45 a.m. Sunday at a home on Brookside Avenue, about half a mile from where the killings occurred. It is unclear if the cases are connected.

Earlier Monday, a woman who answered the door of the Washington Street home declined to answer questions about Ferguson. A man at a Curve Street address listed as his father’s home also declined to speak to a reporter.

At the couple’s home on Monday, the stretch of Broadway between Churchill Street and Linwood Avenue was closed to traffic for much of the day, with caution tape cordoning off the north side of the street. A pair of police SUVs were parked in front of the home.

Around 2 p.m., a couple tried to bring a bouquet of flowers to the Broadway home but were told it was still an active crime scene.

The woman said they knew the family and wanted to “honor them,” and set the bouquet at the base of a tree across the street.

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In the hours before an arrest was announced, people who live in the area said they were stunned by the killings and worried for their safety.

Brigid Costantini, 75, has lived in the neighborhood for more than 50 years and could not recall anything more serious than a break-in.

“I don’t even know how I’m feeling, actually,” she said. “Yesterday it was a complete shock. I don’t think it really sank in until last night or this morning.”

Costantini said she did not know the family well, but that Bruno D’Amore used to stop by and chat with her husband about sports, gardening, or “whatever.” Costantini said she used to see Lucia Arpino on her frequent walks up and down the road.

The killings have caused some residents to change their daily habits.

“A lot of us don’t lock our doors and now I’ve got two sets of keys on me,” said Jen Caplan, who has lived in her Nonantum home for 18 years. “I’ve never done that.”

Caplan said she has never had a reason to feel unsafe in her neighborhood. With two police SUVs guarding the crime scene, less than a block from her home, she said any more police presence would be “too late.”

Laura Bortolin recalled how Arpino used to give her advice on gardening when she walked by. Bortolin liked Arpino’s flowers, and shot a photograph of them.

“I took a picture of her pink roses and framed it and gave it to her,” she said. “That’s what kind of neighborhood this is.”

On Churchill Street, Tom Schiefer, 48, said the attack has caused his family to reevaluate their routine.

“We’ll think about things a little bit differently now,” Schiefer said. “Like, do you walk alone?”

Maria Scibelli Greenberg, a city councilor whose ward includes Nonantum, said the killings have been deeply unnerving.

“I think everyone is afraid now,” she said. “The security and safety that we felt in that neighborhood has been shattered.”

Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff and correspondent Daniel Kool contributed to this report.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com. Alysa Guffey can be reached at alysa.guffey@globe.com. Follow her @AlysaGuffeyNews. Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com.