The suspect wanted for a triple murder that put a Massachusetts town on edge for almost 48 hours is in custody.
Christopher Ferguson, 41, allegedly killed Jill and Bruno D’Amore, ages 73 and 74, along with Jill’s 97-year-old mother, Lucia Arpino, in their Newton home during what appears to be a random, botched home invasion, authorities said during a Monday night press conference.
Jill suffered more than 30 stab and blunt force trauma wounds, and her death was ruled a homicide, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said.
That’s why there’s only one count of murder, as of Monday night, but that’s expected to change Tuesday after Bruno and Arpino’s autopsies are completed, according to the district attorney.
Ferguson, who’s known to police, was seen on surveillance footage “staggering” in the area with no shoes and no shirt at 5:20 a.m. Sunday, Ryan said.
It’s unclear if that video captured the moments before or after the alleged murders, but it was about 100 yards from his home and about four-tenths of a mile away from the crime scene, she said.
“There were obvious signs of a struggle in one of the bedrooms, including broken furniture and crystal paper weight covered with blood,” DA Ryan said. Police also found a blood-stained knife in the kitchen.
Ferguson doesn’t have any known connections to the family, and appears to have forced his way into the home through a window in the basement, according to the district attorney.
He allegedly left behind bloody footprints that are similar to fingerprints, that further tied him to the crime scene, Ryan said.
After his arrest, Ferguson was hospitalized, but the county’s top prosecutors expects him to be in court for his arraignment, with additional charges tacked on.
An arraignment date hasn’t been set, although it could be as early as tomorrow.
The randomness of the attack in an otherwise, peaceful, close and well-to-do community “shocked” the neighborhood, said Jim Sbordone, a former Newton firefighter and a friend of the D’Amore family, and put the city into a heightened state of paranoia.
Police and the district attorney ended Sunday night’s press conference with a warning to residents to lock their doors and windows and watch out for anything suspicious.
Authorities said the city can exhale now that Ferguson is in custody.
“It’s always important to be vigilant … but I would say we’re certainly much safer tonight than we were last night,” Ryan said.
Jill and Bruno were killed a day – maybe even hours – before they were scheduled to renew their wedding vows for their 50th anniversary at the Sacred Heart and Our Lady’s Collaborative church in Newton, where they were active parishioners and never missed 10 a.m. Sunday mass.
The parish’s pastor, Rev. Dan Riley, told Fox News Digital that they were “salt of the Earth, the greatest people you’d ever meet … They’re going to be horribly missed.”
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.”
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 and is published in full below.
“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.