NATICK — Every five years, in a hushed parole board hearing with the family he traumatized and tore apart, Richard Seymour apologizes to his ex-wife and daughter, and to the memory of the teenage son he beat to death in a drug-fueled rage.
And each time, his family remains unmoved, refusing to forgive him for a brutal crime that has already kept him behind bars for three decades.
On Tuesday, Seymour’s family renewed the painful ritual of arguing against his release, telling the state’s parole board they are haunted by the thought of Seymour being set free. Their grief over Patrick Seymour’s death, they said, has never left them.
“I miss my brother every day. He was my best friend,” Paula Todisco, Patrick’s sister, told the board. “Please understand that our pain is very real, it is ongoing, and time does not make it any better.”
Many friends and relatives wore pins picturing Patrick Seymour and wept as the details of his death were recounted. Some family members wore purple ribbons as symbols of the peace they have experienced since Seymour went to prison.
Diane Nardone, Patrick’s aunt, said Seymour sexually abused his daughter and terrified his wife by playing “Russian Roulette” with a loaded gun against her head.
“The abuse was steady and constant,” she said. Nardone refused to utter Seymour’s name, saying he was “not deserving of my respect.”
A violent abuser who terrorized his wife and two teenage children for years, Seymour has much to be forgiven for.
In January 1986, Richard Seymour fatally beat his 18-year-old son, Patrick, in their Billerica home, striking him repeatedly with a propane gas tank. The attack began after Patrick asked his father to borrow the car so he could go help a friend change a flat tire.
At least three times, he struck his son in the back of the head when Patrick was on his knees or on the ground, according to parole board records.
He also rained blows upon his son with a hammer, using such force that he broke through his skull.
After the killing, Seymour bound his son’s hands and legs, dragged him behind a workbench, and covered him with blankets and boxes. When his wife and daughter returned home about two hours later, he assaulted them and tied them up. He later fled but was caught the next day.
In the middle of his trial in 1986, Seymour abruptly pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
The board denied Seymour parole after hearings in 2001, 2006, and 2011. In its most recent rejection, the board cited his family’s unabated fear at the prospect of his release.
“The former family and community of Richard Seymour, those who knew him best, are terrified of him,” the board wrote. “They do not believe he has changed or can change.”
His combination of “explosive anger and fundamental lack of empathy,” the board found, made him a continuing threat to public safety.
On Tuesday, Seymour, now 67, acknowledged the horror of his crimes and asked for forgiveness — again.
“I was a monster back then,” he said. Looking to the ceiling, he cried out.
“I’m so sorry! God Almighty! What have I done,” he screamed.
Asked by a parole board member if he thought 30 years was enough punishment for what he had done, Seymour said he did not.
“But I’m not that person anymore,” he said in a hushed voice.
During Seymour’s testimony, Todisco and Regina Marsh, Seymour’s former wife, rolled their eyes at his answers. After the hearing, they dismissed his contrition as fake.
“I think it was all an act,” Marsh said. “Phony.”
Assistant District Attorney Crystal Lyons said Seymour had still not demonstrated “an unqualified acceptance of responsibility.”
Across the gallery from the family, about 10 people sat in support of Seymour’s release, including Carl Beaulieu and Christopher Logue, who met Seymour in prison.
Beaulieu, who helps organize a Christian reflection group for inmates, said Seymour has transformed over the past decade into a “loving and caring person.”
“I believe he would be an asset to the community, should he be pardoned,” Beaulieu told the board.
Logue, a lawyer who advocates for victims of domestic violence, said domestic abusers often blame victims for abusers’ own crimes, sometimes long after sentencing. But he said he had never heard Seymour blame others and said his contrition has been genuine.
“[Seymour] has used his decades in prison to understand why and what he did, so he can never come close to doing it again,” Logue said.
The decision of the board is not expected for several months. According to the most recent study by the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety, about one-quarter of parole requests are granted for inmates serving life sentences.
This year, Patrick Seymour would have turned 48.
Astead W. Herndon can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@AsteadWH.