NEW YORK – Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston has remembered three parishioners who were brutally stabbed to death this past weekend, two of whom were set to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary hours later, as people who “lived their Catholic faith proudly and in service of the Church.”
Gilda “Jill” D’Amore, 73, Bruno D’Amore, 74, and Gilda’s mother, Lucia Arpino, 97, were found dead in their Newton, Massachusetts, home after the couple did not arrive at Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church to celebrate their anniversary the morning of June 25.
“Often words are not enough to help families and friends come to terms with the loss of a loved one. We look to God for answers. We seek to understand,” O’Malley said in a June 27 statement. “Often, we simply cannot make sense of what has happened. But our faith sustains us, and in this moment of enormous pain, we know that God is with us always.”
“This week and for the weeks, months, and years ahead, the brutal and senseless murders of Gilda D’Amore, her husband, Bruno D’Amore, and Gilda’s mother, Lucia Arpino, will stay with us as we come to terms with this unimaginable loss,” O’Malley continued. “They loved Christ and the Church.”
Christopher Ferguson, 41, of Newton, was arrested in connection with the murders on June 26, and arraigned in Newtown District Court on June 27. He has been charged with murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and burglary. Additional charges are possible after all three autopsies are completed, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.
On June 26, the Office of the Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death for Gilda to be multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma. The other autopsies are expected to be completed this week.
Mid-morning on June 25, a person who knew the victims called 911 to report the victims were dead inside their home. She had gone to check on the victims after they did not arrive at Our Lady Help of Christians, located in Newton, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
A preliminary investigation into the incident indicated some signs of forced entry to the D’Amore’s home, including broken glass and missing screens at the basement windows. Later in the afternoon, a lab was able to positively match a bloody footprint left in the home to Ferguson’s footprints. There was also a kitchen knife found at the home with red and brown stains, according to Ryan.
Investigators also identified Ferguson as a person of interest in the murders after they located video from Albemarle Road in Newton that depicted a male walking in that area, later identified as Ferguson, which is four-tenths of a mile from the victim’s home at 5:20 a.m. on June 25.
At the moment, the motive for the attack remains unclear, and police sources have described it as possibly a random act of violence.
O’Malley is in Rome for meetings of Pope Francis’s council of cardinals, but said he will offer Mass for the three victims at St. Peter’s Basilica.
“In our prayers, we will also remember the parishioners of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish and their sister parish Sacred Heart, their pastor Father Dan Riley, the parish staff and the entire community of Newton,” O’Malley said in his statement.
“We give thanks for the parish community of Our Lady Help of Christians and the surrounding Catholic communities coming together to support and care for each other,” he continued. “With God’s help, we will remember the gift of the lives of Gilda, Bruno and Lucia.”
In a statement that went out to the Our Lady’s parish community on June 26, parish leaders remembered Gilda for the “endless hours” she spent caring for the church, specifically its flowers. Bruno was remembered for his “big voice and exuberant personality,” and for flipping the burgers at the parish picnic, and Lucia for almost never missing a 10:00 a.m. Mass.
“Many in our faith community are grieving this great loss,” reads the statement. “We ask for your prayers for them, most especially for their three children and five grandchildren.”