ANDOVER — Four years ago next week, John Magee went to a construction site in Reading where his company was building homes and spoke with his son about picking up some building materials in Boston, then dropping them off the next day.
His wife, Geraldine, meanwhile, chatted with her daughter, Holly, on the phone and made plans to watch their grandchildren while Holly did some shopping. Christmas was just around the corner.
But when Holly came to drop off her children the next morning — Dec. 14, 2011 — she found her parents had been shot to death. The couple's car, a Lexus SUV, had been set on fire in Boston's North End after being stolen from their home.
The mysterious slaying remains unsolved, and authorities Monday renewed their calls for the public's help in finding those responsible, releasing new details about the couple's final day in hopes of generating fresh leads.
"Someone out there knows something," Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said at a news conference at the Andover Police Department. "We are asking you to search your memory and your conscience, pick up the phone, and call us."
The couple was apparently targeted, and Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe sought to reassure residents that the lack of an arrest is no cause for fear. It was just the second murder in Andover, an affluent town north of Boston, in the past 25 years.
"Understandably, the community was and continues to be concerned," he said. "At the time of the murders, the circumstances were such that we believed there was no further threat to the public's safety, and we believe that this is still the case."
Keefe said solving the murder remains a top priority.
John Magee, 69, owned and operated Magee Construction with his son, and by all accounts was a "fair and honest businessman," Blodgett said. He paid his subcontractors on time and treated his colleagues and employees well, he added.
Geraldine Magee, 67, was a devoted grandmother who volunteered for various groups and enjoyed traveling. The couple were high school sweethearts who had been married for 39 years, and friends have said they could not imagine who would want to hurt them.
In a statement, the Magee family wrote that the couple is deeply missed, and they hoped the release of new information would spur someone to come forward.
"We miss Jeri and Jack very much and not a day goes by without us thinking how blessed we were to have them in our lives," they wrote. "But the perpetrators of this crime are still out there and they need to be brought to justice. Please help us solve this crime."
The family said they missed spending the holidays with the couple and their "warm, generous, loving nature." They had prayed that pertinent information about the killings would come to light.
In the new timeline, authorities said John Magee spoke with his son about picking up materials in Boston and bringing them to the construction site in Reading the next day. A longtime employee helped him clean out his truck for his son to use. John Magee reportedly left the site around 3 p.m.
Geraldine Magee spoke on the phone with her daughter around 4:25 p.m., by which point John Magee had apparently returned home.
The couple's son, also named John, was at his parents' home looking up information about the supplies he needed to get. He left around 4:30 p.m.
The couple's daughter called 911 around 9:20 the next morning.
Blodgett declined to speculate on possible suspects or motives but said authorities have conducted more than 50 interviews with friends, neighbors, employees, and business associates. They have combed through the couple's financial records and computers and searched their homes in Andover and Jupiter, Fla., numerous times, he said. They have also searched the cars of family members and those associated with Magee Construction.
In addition, investigators have reviewed "countless hours" of surveillance video and followed leads to four states and 20 communities in the Greater Boston area, Blodgett said. Essex investigators have been in contact with the State Police; the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Homeland Security.
The Magee family has been highly cooperative with investigators, he said.
Blodgett declined to say why certain details were not being released but said investigators hoped the release of new information in the case would generate more tips.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Andover police at 978-470-3864.