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Death of Marshfield man under investigation as robbery, homicide

Two Marshfield police officers guarded the area where authorities were investigating the suspicious death of Robert McKenna.Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe

MARSHFIELD — Some residents of his wooded dead-end street knew Robert McKenna as a boisterous charmer, always offering to help chop wood or mow a lawn. Others sensed something stranger about the gregarious 43-year-old, who they said boasted of a past as a diamond runner and big game hunter in Africa.

His home contained taxidermied animal heads, a stuffed alligator with its mouth gaping, ornate wooden masks. And, as he relayed to one woman at the welcoming party held in his honor a couple years back, he possessed an uncut diamond the size of a golf ball, “so big he was afraid to do anything with it or take it anywhere,” although she was unsure what to make of the account.


On Wednesday evening, McKenna was found dead on the first floor of his blood-soaked home, exsanguinated in what investigators say appears to be a robbery and homicide.

“This is not a random act of violence,” said Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz at a press conference Thursday afternoon in front of the Marshfield Police Department. “I believe Mr. McKenna and/or his property were targeted, and they went there for a reason.”

Cruz described “a horrific scene” on Damons Point Road that left blood all over the house. The medical examiner has not yet determined what kind of weapon was used to kill McKenna, Cruz said, but he is believed to have died between 3 and 4 a.m. Wednesday due to blood loss caused by “penetrating soft tissue injuries at the head and also upper extremities.”

A friend of McKenna’s found his body, Cruz said. The man is not a suspect.

Cruz said he believed there was more than one perpetrator, though he declined to explain why. The killers, he said, are believed to have left the scene in a vehicle, throwing evidence out the windows as they fled.


On Thursday, groups of State Police troopers and police dogs could be seen throughout the town, rustling through bushes and trees lining Damons Point Road and Main Street. McKenna’s home and much of his street remained blocked to reporters Thursday, though residents were allowed to go to their homes.

“This is a very active crime scene,” said Cruz.

McKenna’s family did not respond to requests for comment.

Damons Point Road winds through a narrow stretch of woods to end at the beach. Residents described the neighborhood as peaceful.

But at about 3 a.m. Wednesday, the calm was broken by the furious barking of dogs, a noise that went on for some 30 minutes and woke many of the neighbors. McKenna had two hunting dogs.

Paul Turner, who lives across the street and woke up to the barking, said he heard someone come out of McKenna’s house. Then, he said, he heard a man say to one of the dogs, “Come on, boy.” At the time, Turner said, he simply assumed the man speaking was McKenna.

Turner said he heard the man get into a car parked on Eastward Lane and drive away. About a half hour later, he said, he heard another, newer-sounding car pull into McKenna’s driveway. He did not hear anyone go into the house, however. He listened for about 10 minutes, he said, then fell asleep.

“I have two young kids,” said Turner. “I’m a little nervous about how to tell them.”


Turner said McKenna was a friendly person who was well liked in the neighborhood, though he did not know much about McKenna’s personal life. In the winter, he said, McKenna would snowblow for them.

“Just a good all-around guy,” said Turner.

Even neighbors who did not know McKenna knew about his taxidermy collection: Nathan Legro said he went to a house sale McKenna had last summer and saw carved masks and the alligator; others said he had his animal heads in his garage.

Some on the street found McKenna “bizarre.”

The woman who said McKenna told her he was a diamond runner, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the murder investigation, said he bragged so much she could not tell if his stories were true.

“I don’t know what to believe,” she said.

The woman’s husband, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said McKenna used to set off fireworks weeks after the Fourth of July, and burn marsh grass in his backyard. Recently, he said, McKenna flew a drone over the house he and his wife share, which upset them greatly.

When the dogs started barking early on Wednesday, the man said, he took his flashlight and walked up and down the dark street. He did not see anything, and when he got to McKenna’s home, the dogs quieted.

The man said he simply thought McKenna had gotten them under control, so he went home to bed.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.