Hours after Andrew MacCormack allegedly killed his wife in their Revere home, he called his mother-in-law to report that he’d found her body, but he didn’t comply when Karen Masucci begged him to take life-saving measures.
“He said, ‘She’s dead, she’s cold,’ ” Masucci, the mother of 30-year-old Vanessa MacCormack, said on the witness stand in Suffolk Superior Court Tuesday, the first day of her son-in-law’s murder trial.
Masucci, fighting tears on the stand, said she pleaded with Andrew MacCormack to perform CPR on her daughter, telling him, “ ‘Just do it, just do it,’ ” but “he wouldn’t do it.”
While Masucci spoke, Andrew MacCormack, 31, wiped away tears at the defense table, as did several of Vanessa MacCormack’s friends and relatives in the spectators’ gallery.
During opening statements, Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Ian Polumbaum told jurors there was a simple reason why the defendant ignored his mother-in-law’s desperate plea: He had already killed his wife on the morning of Sept. 23, 2017, when his “homicidal violence exploded” after months of mounting tension in the marriage over his drug use and financial problems.
But John Hayes, MacCormack’s public defender, told jurors that while his client is “alleged to have brutally beaten, strangled [and] mutilated” his wife, he had no cuts, scratches, or bruising “consistent with a brutal assault against a healthy woman” who worked out daily and “was able to fight back.”
Vanessa MacCormack suffered blunt force trauma to her face and head, stab and slash wounds to her neck including some that may have been delivered after she died, and strangulation with “pretty extreme force” that broke cartilage at the top of her windpipe, Polumbaum said.
In the months leading up to the murder, Andrew MacCormack was blowing cash on drugs as Vanessa MacCormack’s engagement ring and a replacement band both mysteriously disappeared, in addition to thousands of dollars from a bank account, which Andrew blamed on a hacker, Polumbaum said.
He said Andrew MacCormack had “an awful lot to hide” before the murder, and that Vanessa MacCormack texted him in late August that she was planning to list their house and wanted a divorce. Andrew MacCormack replied she was “crazy” and said he was “not signing anything,” Polumbaum said.
On Sept. 23, he said, Andrew MacCormack drove to the lot of a nearby liquor store, where he took two brief calls from his wife just after 8:30 a.m. He then headed back home “toward a confrontation, toward a world that was closing in on him,” Polumbaum said.
Later, Polumbaum said, investigators noted there was “not even a speck” of Vanessa’s DNA on her husband, even though he claimed to have checked her body when he made his purported discovery around 3:30 p.m. that day.
Andrew MacCormack “used copious amounts of bleach” to clean up the crime scene in the morning and also poured bleach over his wife’s back, Polumbaum said.
Hayes countered that no one who interacted with his client in the hours after the murder smelled bleach on him, and a rash that he had, which investigators attributed to bleach, had actually been present days before the slaying.
MacCormack’s mother, Joyce MacCormack, had even taken photos of the rash on his back the night before the killing to “show him where it was,” Hayes said. Joyce MacCormack lived with the couple at the time.
After the murder, Polumbaum said, containers of bleach and the couple’s largest kitchen knife were missing, and Andrew MacCormack drove “circuitous routes” with the couple’s infant daughter through neighboring communities before he arrived at his friend Jimmy’s house in Saugus around 1:30 p.m. to finish a drywall job.
“The evidence will show that was to give him an alibi,” Polumbaum said, adding that Andrew called and texted his wife’s phone around 12:50 p.m.
About an hour later, Polumbaum said, Andrew called his mother-in-law and said he hadn’t heard from his wife. He told Masucci over the phone, “ ‘I been at Jimmy’s for a while, right Jimmy?’ ” and said he’d head home to check on Vanessa, Polumbaum said.
But instead, Andrew MacCormack drove with his daughter to Winthrop and later East Boston, where he bought $100 worth of cocaine around 3 p.m., prosecutors said.
He returned home after more “unexplained detours” around 3:30 p.m., when he received another call from Masucci, Polumbaum said. Andrew MacCormack gave his mother-in-law a “play-by-play” of his movements as he entered the house and eventually said, “ ‘Oh my God, call 911, she’s on the floor,’ ” Polumbaum said.
During her testimony, Masucci recounted the frantic moments when she and her husband arrived at her daughter’s home.
By then, first responders had taken over the crime scene, and Masucci testified that she saw Andrew MacCormack sitting shirtless outside the home, pouring bottled waters on himself. Her husband was talking to him, she said, and “they might have even hugged” but she wasn’t paying close attention. Instead, she asked anyone who would listen, “What happened to my baby?”