In one version of the terrible events of the summer of 2015, Rachelle Bond was a drug-addicted mother doing the best she could by her little girl, 2-year-old Bella.
They played peek-a-boo, went to the park, and prayed before meals. And when, prosecutors say, Bond’s boyfriend, 37-year-old Michael McCarthy, killed Bella, he allegedly threatened to kill Bond, too, and she had no choice but to help him cover it up.
But in the other version, laid out Tuesday by McCarthy’s attorney in the first day of McCarthy’s trial on murder charges, Bond was occult-obsessed, convinced that demons were using her daughter to get to her. It was she — not McCarthy — who pummeled Bella to death and dumped her body into the ocean, the defense attorney said.
“Rachelle lied repeatedly to cover up Bella’s death,” said defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro in his opening statement at McCarthy’s murder trial. “There is no reason to believe any of her stories.”
Bella’s body washed up on a Deer Island beach on June 25, 2015. The little girl went unidentified for three months, known only as “Baby Doe,” while investigators searched across the country and beyond for clues to her identity. They didn’t get their answer until September 2015, when Bond told a friend that McCarthy had killed her little girl, and that friend went to police.
In Suffolk Superior Court Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney David Deakin described the night that Bella died. It started, he said, with the same bedtime ritual the little family of three enacted every night. But Bella wouldn’t go to sleep, so McCarthy went into her room, Deakin said.
Bond followed after a few minutes of silence, Deakin said, and walked into a horror: McCarthy atop the girl, slamming his fist into her stomach so hard that she bounced on the bed. Bella was blue or gray. Bond rushed to her and performed CPR, Deakin said, but it was too late.
When Bond picked Bella up, Deakin said, McCarthy grabbed her around the neck.
“If you tell anyone what happened I will kill you,” he told her, Deakin said. “She just died. It was her time. She was a demon,” McCarthy allegedly said.
McCarthy had always been intensely interested in the supernatural, Deakin said, and had spoken of an “evil spirit” in the apartment when he moved in.
Bond told prosecutors that after McCarthy allegedly killed Bella, he strangled Bond into unconsciousness, and when she came to, he shot heroin into her neck to keep her docile. Days later, Deakin said, McCarthy hit Bond again when he forced the young mother to help him dump her daughter’s body. He kept up a steady drumbeat of intimidation until Bond fled in September and confessed to her friend, Deakin said.
When State Police interviewed McCarthy, Deakin said, he showed no concern or surprise.
“Many, perhaps most or all of you, will ask: How could she live with that guilty secret for days and weeks and months after the crime?” Deakin told the jury. “Ms. Bond was, at root, trapped.”
Bond pleaded guilty in February to being an accessory after the fact of murder and to larceny over $250 by false purposes, for collecting her daughter’s government benefits after she died. In exchange for her promise to testify, Bond, who has been incarcerated since September 2015, will be credited with time served and placed on two years of probation after the trial.
But Shapiro, in his statement Tuesday, said Bond was the killer.
In 2015, around the time of the child’s death, he said that McCarthy was partially disabled after breaking his collarbone during a seizure. And he was good with Bella, Shapiro said: When she got scared of monsters, he told her to “blow their heads off with love.”
Shapiro described his interest in the occult as “scholarly” rather than perverse. In fact, Shapiro said, it was Bond who was obsessed with demons. He read an entry from her journal, from around the time Bella died:
“How come so many children go missing a year? At least 1 million children go missing in the US alone,” she wrote. “That’s because the leaders of every country get together and torture and rape and kill these innocent children every year just so they can drink their blood and eat their flesh.”
Shapiro related a story he said Bond told a friend in a laundromat, before Bella disappeared. Bond told the woman that when she was a child, her “demonic” parents tried to pull her soul out of her body but they couldn’t because she was too strong. She said her mother hit her in the head with a hammer, Shapiro said. And, he said, she claimed that demons were trying to get into Bella, as a ploy to get to Bond.
“At the end of this, you will realize that Rachelle was projecting her own delusions onto Michael,” Shapiro said. “She blamed him for what she in fact did.”
The first witness in the trial was the dog-walker who discovered Bella’s body, wrapped in a plastic bag. Bonnie Flynn described her mounting horror as she cut a few inches at a time into the tightly knotted bag with a seashell.
First, Flynn saw a fleece blanket, she told the hushed courtroom on Tuesday. She took a deep breath and cut again. A child’s clothing. She cut again. Flies swarmed out. With one final cut, the little girl’s legs dropped out.