The victims of an apparent botched home invasion-turned-triple murder in Massachusetts on Sunday were identified by their church and friends as an elderly family, including a married couple that had just marked their 50th wedding anniversary.
Jill and Bruno D’Amore were killed a day – maybe hours – before they renewed their wedding vows for their 50th anniversary.
The couple and Jill’s 97-year-old mother, Lucia Arpino, hadn’t missed 10 a.m. Mass at their Newton, Massachusetts, parish in decades, their pastor said. Arpino and her husband reportedly sat in the same “North End” seats of Sacred Heart and Our Lady’s Collaborative church for 60 years.
So, when none of them were at Sunday Mass, everyone knew something was wrong, friends said.
A family member called a neighbor to check on them, and the neighbor stumbled onto the bloody murder scene. All three were stabbed and beaten to death in what police believe was a random home invasion.
Their deaths “shocked the neighborhood,” said Jim Sbordone, a former Newton firefighter and a friend of the D’Amore family. “They were great people.”
The Rev. Dan Riley, pastor of Sacred Heart and Our Lady’s Collaborative, told Fox News Digital that Jill, Bruno and Aprino were “salt of the Earth, the greatest people you’d ever meet.”
“They’re going to be horribly missed,” he said.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, neither the police nor the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office officially released the victims’ names or would say if anyone was in custody. Officials didn’t return several calls from Fox News Digital.
The last official update came from the police department’s Facebook page at 11:34 a.m. Monday.
“As we mourn the victims of this senseless, and violent tragedy we ask all members of our community to remain alert and vigilant,” police said in the social media post.
“The Newton Police Department is employing all available resources to ensure our neighborhoods are safe. We continue to supplement each shift with extra officers who will be performing directed patrols.”
“Our community’s safety is our #1 priority. If you observe suspicious activity or have information relative to this matter we urge you to call NPD immediately. We will not rest until justice is served for the victims and their families.”
The Collaborative staff issued a statement, which was obtained by Fox News Digital, that reads, “Jill and Bruno D’Amore and Jill’s mother Lucia Arpino lost their lives in a senseless act of violence.”
“It is with a heavy heart that we share that the terrible tragedy that happened yesterday in Newton hit very close to home, impacting our faith community and our own family,” the Collaborative staff wrote.
Jill “had taken on the ministry of beautifying our church’s environment,” the church staff wrote. She “followed her heart,” cared for the flowers and decorated for the liturgical seasons: “She spent endless hours in the care of our church.”
Her husband, Bruno, was affectionately called the “head chef” as he flipped burgers at the parish picnics. He was known for “his big voice and his exuberant personality.”
Arpino still walked in the annual Our Lady of Mt. Carmel weekend procession that ran through the streets of Nonantum.
“Many in our faith community are grieving this great loss,” the statement reads. “We ask for your prayers for them, most especially for their three children and their five grandchildren.”
Meanwhile, the victims’ family, friends and acquaintances are reeling as they mourn their losses, and fear and confusion have settled into an otherwise wealthy, peaceful and tight-knit city that’s a short drive outside of Boston.
Fueling the community’s angst is an attempted break-in of a different home about a half-mile away from the crime scene the same morning, although it’s unknown if the two cases are connected.
Riley – or Father Dan as he’s better known by the community and his parishioners – wrote a tribute for the couple that he shared with Fox News Digital (which is published in its entirety below the video).
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“With the sudden deaths of three beloved elderly parishioners over the weekend, we are immensely shocked and saddened,” he said. “Our heartfelt sympathy and many prayers go out to the family and friends of these three cherished ones.
“My deepest gratitude for the incredible love and support that the staff, parishioners, neighbors, the police, the counselors and all the government personnel who have been so solicitous, compassionate and helpful have given and continue to give.
“The agony of this tragedy is all too real. God’s love working through you is also real. Likewise, Jesus’ resurrection is real.
“This means that, as we deeply, deeply grieve, we do so with the support of each other and with confidence that, in the end, good defeats evil and life conquers death.”
A short “Mass of Peace” followed by a prayer through song for the family is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
The district attorney’s office and police department urged all residents in and around Newton to check their cameras and report anything suspicious to Newton police at 617-796-2123.