MIDDLETON — A man wanted in connection with two brutal killings in Peabody remained at large on Thursday after allegedly carjacking his way to a Roxbury liquor store — the latest twist in a bizarre case that has sent shock waves from the North Shore to Boston.
Wes Doughty, 39, a suspect in the killings, resurfaced late Wednesday when he allegedly abducted a man outside a Middleton restaurant at knifepoint and drove to a Tremont Street liquor store, officials said. Doughty allegedly confessed to the killings, as he drove toward Boston with the car’s owner, Kenneth Metz, tied up in the old Honda’s seat belt.
Metz told reporters he escaped early Thursday morning when the seat belt loosened and Doughty ducked inside a liquor store.
A frantic Metz ran for help at Good Eats, a pizza shop on Tremont Street near Cabot.
“He came inside and I said, ‘What happen with you?’ ” said Nikolaos Anastasiadis, 56, who was working behind the counter. “He said, ‘Call the police!’ ”
The drama began Saturday night, when the mutilated bodies of Jennifer O’Connor, 40, and Mark Greenlaw, 37, were found at 19 Farm Ave. in Peabody after a woman fled the scene and flagged down a driver who took her to the State Police barracks in Danvers, officials said.
Michael Hebb, 45, was arrested on Monday. The woman who reported the crime was in a relationship with Hebb, friends and relatives said. She was an eyewitness to the killings, her sister said, and is now in protective custody.
“My sister’s life is in jeopardy right now,” the woman said.
Police have released few details about what happened inside the home — a scene one official described as “messy.”
Joseph Gardner, who grew up with Greenlaw, said his lifelong friend had been shot repeatedly, his face obliterated.
The home where the bodies were found, long a subject of police calls, was rented by a man named David Moise, whom Doughty referred to as his godfather, Gardner said. A woman outside the house on Thursday asked a reporter to leave.
Police have not described a motive for the killings. But Metz, the man Doughty allegedly carjacked, said Doughty told him he had been upset that O’Connor and Greenlaw had given his godfather heroin. The two victims were in a romantic relationship.
In an interview with television crews outside his home Thursday, Metz said he had God on his side when Doughty entered his car outside Hailey’s Restaurant & Pub in Middleton, about 25 miles north of Boston, and held him hostage using a pen knife.
Metz said Doughty told him that he participated in killing the couple “because they gave heroin to his godfather.”
Metz said Doughty demanded to drive to Boston and tied Metz up using the slack in a seat belt. After a long drive during which Metz said Doughty seemed to be contemplating his next move, Doughty finally stopped to duck into a liquor store.
That’s when Metz, who has four children, eight grandchildren, and a wife with ALS, made his daring escape.
Metz said Doughty had offered to give him his car back as soon as he stole another one, but Metz said he didn’t want to take the chance.
Meanwhile, down the street, Doughty calmly went into Hollywood Liquors to buy beer and brandy — a half-pint of E&J.
“He came in normal like every other customer, paid, grabbed his bag, and walked back out,” said co-owner Ramon Genao. There were several customers in line, and Doughty waited patiently.
“The gentleman [cops] were looking for came into the store and purchased a beer and half a pint of E&J. He came in normal like every other customer, paid, grabbed his bag and walked back out,” Genao told reporters Thursday afternoon after Boston Police detectives reviewed the footage.
Genao said surveillance footage showed Doughty walk from the Tremont Street liquor store toward Davenport Street.
Genao said Doughty appeared to be overdressed for the weather. He said he was wearing a big jacket over green overalls that were ripped at his feet. Genao said Doughty walked into the liquor store at about 10 p.m. and made his way to the cooler, grabbed a beer and asked an employee for a half a pint of E&J. He paid cash, Genao said.
“He looked a little rough around the edges,” Genao said. “His demeanor was totally normal. It’s weird that this could actually happen... he had someone in his car and he came to buy liquor... it’s funny.”
”There were a couple of customers in front of him he waited and paid for his stuff and he walked out,” Genao said. “He didn’t say anything else to my employees. He just seemed like anyone coming off the street. “
Genao said none of his customers knew what was going on and did not notice anything unusual about Doughty.
Doughty drove off alone in the gray 2006 Honda Accord four-door, license plate 7KLY80. Police were still looking for the car Thursday evening.
Neighbors said Doughty drifted in and out of the Middleton neighborhood where he grew up and a place in Danvers.
Shirley Homan, who lived in the same Andover Street home where Doughty stayed off and on for years, said he’d left 18 months ago, telling the Homans he was moving to Lynn with his wife. But a search of public records turned up no records indicating Doughty had married or ever lived in Lynn. Others said he may have been living in his truck in recent months.
“I was shocked,” said Bert Russell, who lives a few doors down from the Andover Street home. Doughty had done some welding work for Russell, a retired Danvers police officer.
“He’s not a big guy, but he’s a hell of a good welder. And he had all the opportunities of really going into business. If someone had taken him by the shirt and guided him along . . . it’s too bad. But I can see this thing ending badly with him.”
A woman who answered the door at a house listed as the residence of Doughty’s mother declined to comment.
Danvers resident Kent Taylor, 71, said Doughty has been “in and out” of living at a home in his neighborhood for years. Taylor described Doughty, whom he last saw around nine months ago, as “industrious when he had his head together” but added that Doughty was involved with drugs.
Taylor said he was shocked to hear about the allegations against Doughty as the events leading up to Wednesday night’s carjacking unfolded.
“I’m just a little amazed he’s involved,” he said. “This whole thing is totally surprising for everybody.”
Court records show Doughty was convicted in 2005 of leaving the scene of property damage and reckless operation of a motor vehicle after crashing into two parked vehicles in Danvers the year before. A judge in that case sentenced Doughty to probation.
When Doughty was 18, he was charged with armed robbery while masked and armed assault to rob in Middleton, court records show. He pleaded guilty to both offenses on May 22, 1996, and was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay $540 in restitution and complete three years of probation, according to records. Further details about the crimes weren’t available Thursday because Doughty’s case files were in storage.
State Police asked Thursday that anyone seeing the Honda or Doughty contact police immediately and cautioned that he is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Instead, anyone who spots him should call 911 or the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section at 1-800-KAPTURE (1-800-527-8873).Evan Allen, Steve Annear, and Laura Crimaldi of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.