No parole for woman who stabbed Gloucester mom, suffocated her to death

A woman who stabbed a 50-year-old Gloucester mother 15 times, suffocated her to death, and ingested some of her prescription pills before fleeing has been denied parole for a second time.

In a decision dated Aug. 30, the Parole Board rejected the bid for release from Barbara Goucher, 52, who pleaded guilty in 1999 to second-degree murder for the horrific slaying of Florence Munroe, a crime that involved “a lengthy period of torture,” the ruling said.

A prior ruling in 2013 said Goucher inflicted 15 stab wounds, 72 incised wounds, and 21 puncture wounds to “all parts of Munroe’s body.”


Goucher had apologized during her March hearing and told the board, “What I did was horrible,” the ruling said. “I took everything I ever felt out on one person . . . to get more drugs, to not feel the pain.”

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Munroe initially tried to show kindness to Goucher by taking her in several months before the February 1998 killing. But their relationship soured after Goucher repeatedly stole from her. The final straw came when the younger woman stole her daughter’s video game, prompting Munroe to ask her to leave, the ruling said.

Goucher returned to Munroe’s apartment on Feb. 28, admitted to stealing the game, and said she would pay her back but needed money first. Munroe refused and again told Goucher to leave, sending Goucher into a homicidal rage.

She chased Munroe from room to room and “continuously beat and stabbed her,” the ruling said. Goucher paused to take some of Munroe’s prescribed Klonopin and passed out. She saw Munroe lying on the ground when she woke up, so she finished the job, according to the ruling.

Goucher told the panel that Munroe continued moving after she placed a plastic bag over her head.


“I thought that I had suffocated her,” Goucher told the board at her second hearing in March. “So when I put her on the couch and she was still moving, I put the couch cushion over her head and that’s when she quit.”

Goucher then stripped Munroe, washed her, cut her hair, and left her naked, lifeless body on the floor, according to the ruling. Munroe’s daughter later discovered the body.

“I think I panicked,” Goucher told the board. “I had to clean it up so that no one would know.”

During Goucher’s prior parole hearing in 2013, she “insisted” that she had introduced Munroe to heroin, but there was no corroborating testimony that Munroe used drugs, and the panel noted that Goucher was being “insensitive to Ms. Munroe and her family,” records show. Goucher then apologized to Munroe’s relatives.

The board, in denying Goucher’s second request this week, found that she “has not yet demonstrated a level of rehabilitative progress” to merit parole, though she has participated in several programs while incarcerated, including Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.


She also has family support.

Those testifying in favor of parole included one of her sons, as well as a former Cambridge city clerk, the ruling said.

Munroe’s son and daughters, as well as Assistant Essex District Attorney Elin Graydon, urged the board to keep Goucher locked up. She will come before the panel again in 2019.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.