Little new emerged today at the arragnment of William Dunn for the murder of 78-year-old Robert Moore, a man everyone seems to have admired. Why nothing new? Because,at least according to the story by the Globe’s John Ellement, Judge Patricia Kurtin sealed the court file.
Now, what’s in there? There has to be, at the very least, a complaint and a police statement establishing probable cause to hold Dunn, likely with a fair level of detail about the police investigation to date. Why the secrecy? Are the police concerned that its release will permit other suspects to avoid apprehension? Hardly. The best (though, in fairness, not the only possible) explanation for this move is that the prosecution simply wants to control the flow of information to the public. Why? Because they can, as long as they can find a Judge who will let them get away with spoonfeeding information to reporters.
Given the level of interest in this case, the lockdown of the local schools, the arrest of Hillel Neuer as a result of the paranoia that evidently gripped the town, or at least Stone Hearth Pizza, on Friday afternoon, there is absolutely no call for secrecy for these basic court documents. Judge Kurtin’s decision would be unlikely to withstand a legal challenge, but will anyone look to break the seal? We’ll see whether this case is one that the papers really care about.
In the meantime, the Globe’s photo of Dunn (that’s him at the top) isn’t going to do anything to discourage talk of an insanity defense. Dunn’s lawyer, Robert Griffin, wisely held his tongue on the courthouse steps. It’s far too early to guess how this case will play out, but it has all the elements of heartbreaking drama–a victim who seems like a wonderful guy, and a defense likely built on the claim that his killer was a deeply, deeply troubled man who is sick, not evil. Stay tuned.
The Globe (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ellement) did a much better job than the Herald this morning reporting on the sad case of the murder of 78-year-old Robert Moore, who was apparently beaten to death in his own cellar by William B. Dunn of Norwood, an employee of Mass Irrigation Company of Quincy, who was at Moore’s home working on Moore’s sprinkler system.
The Globe found a Norwood PD report revealing that Dunn was admitted to Carney Hospital for psychiatric treatment in August. Dunn wandered away from the hospital, only to be found by police a day later walking near a Norwood cemetary. No word on what happened after the police returned him to the hospital, or whether Mass Irrigation knew of his difficulties before sending him out to deal with customers. Dunn’s family told police he was laboring under the delusion that he had “stumbled upon a stock scandal and that there were people after him”–a state of mind commonly seen among the staff of the Boston office of the SEC, but presumably less common among sprinkler guys.
This may be a case where an insanity defense might actually have some legs.
Well, the Needham Police have one less worry this morning–it looks like the United Nations Council for Human Rights won’t be investigating the arrest of Pizza Man (identified in today’s Herald and Globe as Hillel C. Neuer, 37, a prominent critic of that organization). The Herald adds to the list of facts that caused the jumpy employees of Stone Hearth Pizza to call in the SWAT Team: Neuer was “acting in distress, carrying several large bags and saying he wanted a taxi to Newton.” Let’s just hope none of these hypervigilantes ends up getting a job at the Chestnut Hill Mall or the Atrium: the police would have to establish a permanent command post there.
Did the police overreact? One can’t be too harsh on them, given the homicide in town earlier that day, and the 911 call reporting (incorrectly) that Neuer had a gun. If common sense prevails, the Norfolk DAs office and the Needham Police will choose not to press charges on Monday morning, and Mr. Neuer will go on his way. But that may be too much to ask. Watch to see whether the Needham PD press to get a release from Neuer–a move that would l only prolong this unfortunate drama.
“There should be reason to feel safe in Needham, and there’s no reason to be fearful right now,” Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating told reporters gathered at the town police station.” So reports the Boston Globe this morning.
Unless, apparently, you want to have a sprinkler system installed, or buy a pizza and use your cell phone at the same time. While we’ll just have to wait and see why William Dunn allegedly beat his 78-year old customer to death (Needham’s first murder since the grisly Beldotti case), the more interesting question focuses on the yet-unidentified man captured outside Needham’s Stone Hearth Pizza. According to the story, written by Ralph Ranalli and Lisa Kocian, a Stone Hearth employee called the police because of the customer’s extremely suspicious actions, to wit:
1. He appeared to be in his mid 30s;
2. He ordered a small pizza;
3. He ordered a soda (no size given);
4. He changed his clothes in the bathroom–evidently putting a suit on, judging from the photos;
5. He kept walking to the windows and looking outside; and
6. He talked on his cell phone.
So, admittedly, the change in clothes is a little odd, as Republican supporters of Greg Hyatt will no doubt recall, but was the rest of what he did worth turning Needham Center into a Dog Day Afternoon rerun for most of the afternoon?
Maybe our friend should have ordered the large pizza–as everyone knows, only real troublemakers order the small ones.
For a place where nothing much happens, Needham made up for lost ground today. Two big arrests: according to Boston.com, Needham police arrested William Dunn, 41, and charged him with the killing Robert Moore, 78, and beating Moore’s daughter-in-law, who, fortunately, appears likely to come out the hospital alive. Dunn is a sprinkler guy. Moore was his customer. Dogs led the police to him. No further word on what prompted the beating.
During the manhunt, all hell broke loose in the rest of the town. The police ordered a lockdown of the schools–scaring the bejeezus out of thousands of Needham’s parents. And downtown, a standoff outside a pizza joint, resulting in the arrest, at gunpoint, of a middle aged guy in a dark suit, white shirt and tie that made him look like a extra from Men in Black III. Fox 25 had great video, and later reported that this guy (they gave his name, but I didn’t catch it) was charged with . . . hold steady now … Disturbing the Peace–and released on bail at the station. We’ll see, but my guess is that the reports that Public Enemy No. 2 had a gun, or held hostages, probably won’t pan out. Somebody’s going to have some ‘splaining to do it, and we will just have to wait and see whether it’s the police or Mr. Chips.