Authorities investigating the killings of a mother and her three children in West Brookfield spoke to a witness earlier this month who claimed that the slayings were the work of MS-13, a violent street gang known for committing brutal crimes.
The witness said he heard the story from Moses Bermudez, whose wife and children were killed. But prosecutors now allege that the witness, Mathew Locke, 31, of Ware, fabricated the account, court papers show.
Locke was ordered held on $10,000 bail Monday during an arraignment at East Brookfield District Court. He is charged with one count of misleading a police investigation into the murders of Sara Bermudez, 38, and her three children, 7-year-old Madison, 5-year-old James, and 2-year-old Michael. Their bodies were found in their home on Old Warren Road on March 1. No arrests have been made.
Investigators interviewed Locke last Friday, according to a police report filed in court. During the interview, Locke said he had recently visited the Bermudezes’ home with an associate, Joshua Gagnon.
Locke said Moses Bermudez was sitting in a truck in the driveway.
“Locke told investigators that Moses stated that they should pay attention to the news in the coming days because anyone associated with MS-13 was going to get hurt and die,” the report said. “Locke’s statement indicated that members of MS-13 were responsible for the murders.”
The following day, detectives interviewed Moses Bermudez at his home. He told them he hadn’t seen Locke since his family was killed and denied linking MS-13 to the murders, the report said.
On Sunday, investigators spoke with Gagnon at his home. He said he had been to Moses Bermudez’s home with Locke in the past two weeks. Bermudez, however, didn’t mention MS-13 or discuss having people killed, Gagnon said, according to the report.
Timothy Connolly, spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., declined to say whether Locke is a suspect in the homicide investigation. Locke’s lawyer didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.
Locke’s next court date is set for April 24.
Moses Bermudez was in California at the time of the murders, according to his sister. When he did not hear from his wife, he became worried and asked his father to check their home.
The father discovered the bodies and called 911, according to his sister.
Several fires had been set in the home, but they had burned themselves out, the Globe has reported.Aimee Ortiz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @aimee_ortiz. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.