Metro

From the archives | September 8, 2010

A vile act, a city’s new low

Richel Nova.
Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff
Richel Nova.

This article is from the Boston Globe archives. It was originally published on September 8, 2010.

They ate the pizza.

That’s just one of the things that hits so hard in what may be the vilest slaying in this city in many, many years. The killers, “scumbags,” as the mayor called them yesterday, ate one slice after another from a box covered with the blood of the deliveryman they just killed.

Every slaying is bad. This one is particularly sinister. It was death by design, but with a motive that is impossible to comprehend. Take the pizza. Make him hand over the cash. But let the guy walk away with his life.

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Richel Nova, the hard-working Domino’s deliveryman who was trying to create a better life for his son and twin daughters, was the random target from the moment the killers phoned in an order that would end with death, according to prosecutors.

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It’s a plot so rudimentary as to be utterly depraved, the kind of crime that isn’t supposed to happen here. Call a deliveryman to a vacant house, stab him to death, then take the pizza and the few dollars he has on him and run. Maybe in Miami, or maybe in the 1980s, but not here, not now.

What must Nova have been thinking when he pulled up to the house on Hyde Park Avenue, or when he was beckoned to the back porch and invited inside as one of the killers claimed to be searching for a wallet?

The hour was late. The house, with a “For Sale” sign out front, probably didn’t look quite right. And then it was over - an onslaught of stabs to the chest and neck, until one of the killers took a knife and simply sliced open his throat.

Which gets to the hardest part of all. Nova, by all accounts, was everything you would want a Boston resident to be. He worked day and night. He was a baseball fanatic. He doted over twin daughters who are now in college, one at Catholic University in Washington, the other at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. While living in his simple, one-bedroom apartment, he instilled in them the belief that hard work will get them ahead in this life.

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To see his photograph is to see a proud man. To see a photograph of him with a daughter is to see a joyful man as well.

And then it was over. Everything Richel Nova stood for, everything he strove for, collided with so much of what he was against - a quick buck, a cheap score, a tragic disregard for work and the ethic behind it.

Good and evil met on a back porch on Hyde Park Avenue.

As an aside, no one should convict the three suspects before they get before a jury. Still, no one should be allowed to don a ridiculous hood in court, as one suspect did at his arraignment yesterday, just because his lawyer doesn’t want his face known.

This slaying has hit City Hall particularly hard. Nova’s twin daughters, Marlene and Michelle, worked the past three summers in the mayor’s reception area, right outside his office, answering phones and helping with his schedule.

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“They are the sweetest, sweetest girls you would ever want working with you,” said Annette Gales, one of Tom Menino’s most trusted assistants. “They were great workers.”

“Their father was their whole life,” Menino said yesterday. “When I got them baseball tickets, they wanted to take their father. They went to a concert in Foxborough and their father drove them and waited outside.

“Education was very important to both of them. The father gave them this ethic.”

The sisters worked in City Hall by day, and at night, Michelle rushed to Logan Airport - where her brother, Irving Lara, 22, also worked - to her job staffing a money exchange desk until 11. Marlene spent her weekends working the ticket booth at the New England Aquarium.

And now they don’t have the father who shaped so much of who they are.

Sometimes a crime says something about a city and a society. For the good of Boston, for the sake of everyone, we can only hope that this depraved act says nothing at all.

Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at mcgrory@globe.com.