CAMBRIDGE — Authorities called for the public’s help as they investigate the brutal beating death of a 60-year-old man in a popular North Cambridge park early Wednesday evening.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan at a press conference Thursday afternoon identified the man as Paul Wilson, who lived in a nearby apartment complex and would often walk through Danehy Park on his way to and from work and to the Alewife train station. He was found by a passerby lying unresponsive with severe head trauma just before 7 p.m. and declared dead later at a local hospital.
Authorities found a baseball bat in bushes nearby and are investigating whether it was used in the slaying.
“Preliminary investigation suggests he died of blunt force trauma to the head,” Ryan said. “He obviously sustained some very serious head trauma. He was struck on the head with something.”
Wilson’s death is being investigated as a homicide, Ryan said.
He was found on a pathway off of the New Street side parking lot at Danehy, a sprawling complex of athletic fields.
Ryan said police did not know whether the attack was random, and she advised people to “use caution in this area right now.”
Speaking during an afternoon news conference at Cambridge police headquarters, Ryan and Police Superintendent Steven DeMarco urged the public to contact investigators with any information they may have about the case.
DeMarco said police would like anyone in the park between 6 and 7 p.m. Wednesday to contact his department’s anonymous tip line at 617-349-3359 or the emergency communications line at 617-349-3300.
Wilson, who stood 6 feet 6 inches tall, was wearing shorts, a red winter jacket, and winter hat, and may have stood out in the park, Ryan said, adding that it was not uncommon for him to wear shorts at his job in Cambridge.
Authorities found other items of interest in the investigation further up the path, toward a hidden homeless encampment, she said, but she did not describe what was found.
“We are asking anyone who may have been in the neighborhood . . . who may have seen something, regardless of how inconsequential it may have seemed at the time . . . to contact police,” Ryan said. “We are hoping someone may have noticed him in his travels to and from Danehy Park.”
She said authorities “are continuing to look for video of good quality, which we will be disseminating if and when we find that.”
Wilson had several siblings, who have been notified of his death, Ryan said.
DeMarco said the park is one of the city’s most popular areas and relatively safe. The only notable crime there was an assault a decade ago, he said.
He said police are working to set up a community meeting to hear from residents. Meanwhile, authorities have been adding police coverage in the area, including undercover patrols, and continue to canvass the area for evidence.
“I’m concerned, just as our community is concerned,” he said.
A neighbor told the Globe Wednesday night that Wilson’s death was a highly unusual occurrence for the well-traveled park.
“It’s not a dangerous park at all,” said Michelle Side, 29, who’s lived across the street from Danehy for three years. “A lot of people do go to that dog park [in Danehy] at night.”
She said she’d always felt safe in the area but the death was unsettling.
“Do I feel safe now? I don’t know,” she said.
Danny McDonald of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Adam Sennott contributed to this report. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.