Golden anniversary turns tragic as couple, relative are fatally stabbed and beaten

Jun 27, 2023, 7:35 AM | Updated: 7:26 pm

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) — Jill D’Amore helped make Our Lady Help of Christians Church beautiful, tending to flowers and decorating the parish season by season. Her mother, 97-year-old Lucia Arpino, never missed morning Mass until the coronavirus pandemic hit. And Jill’s husband, Bruno, proudly flipped burgers at the parish picnic.

Their apparently random beating and stabbing deaths over the weekend — when the church had planned to celebrate the D’Amores’ 50th wedding anniversary in a post-Communion blessing — have shaken the parish and the wider community of Newton, a city comprising a network of villages in suburban Boston.

“It’s a shocking loss, the grief is horrifying. But I’ve got to say the love coming forth from the people has just been not surprising but so edifying and inspiring,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Dan Riley.

Christopher Ferguson, 41, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Newton District Court to a murder charge in the death of Jill D’Amore, 73, along with two counts of assault and one count of burglary. Additional charges are expected in the deaths of Bruno D’Amore, 74, and Arpino, 97, after those autopsies are completed.

Jill D’Amore had 32 beating and stab wounds to her upper body, including her head and face, prosecutor Nicole Allain said in court.

Ferguson, also of Newton, was arrested Monday, but it appears he had no other connection to the victims, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said. Investigators have yet to identify a motive.

Judge Mary Beth Heffernan ordered Ferguson held without bail until a probable cause hearing July 25. During Tuesday’s arraignment, at least eight relatives of the victims listened silently in court as prosecutors detailed their investigation. They left without talking to reporters.

A Mass of Peace was scheduled for Tuesday evening, but reporters were not allowed inside.

“Bruno was known for his big voice and his exuberant personality,” and for being treated as “head chef” at picnics, Paul and Ginny Arpino, who were related to the victims, wrote in a letter to the church community.

Jill D’Amore, they said, had taken on the ministry of beautifying the church’s environment.

“Without a single day of liturgical training she simply followed her heart, caring for the flowers and decorating for the liturgical seasons,” they wrote.

And, they wrote, “Lucia will be especially missed on the upcoming Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Festa weekend as she faithfully walked in that procession through the streets of Nonantum well into her 90’s,” referring to the heavily Italian American neighborhood where they lived.

The victims were discovered in a bedroom by a friend shortly after they failed to show up for 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday, Allain said. The friend called police, who discovered signs of forced entry through a window. Investigators found bare footprints on the tile floor, along with blood droplets and fingerprints.

Surveillance video from a nearby home showed a man with no shirt or shoes staggering not far from the D’Amores’ home shortly before 5:30 a.m., Allain said. Several police officers identified the man as Ferguson, whose footprints matched bloody prints found in the home, she said.

Investigators visited Ferguson’s father, who acknowledged that a photo they showed him could be his son, according to charging documents. They then visited an ex-girlfriend of Ferguson, who detailed mental health challenges he has faced since February. They finally visited the home he shared with his sister and arrested him, the documents show. Ferguson was taken to Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center for evaluation.

Several bouquets of flowers were placed on the sidewalk outside the D’Amores’ home. A police car was parked in the driveway and the yard was cordoned off by yellow crime tape.

Domenic Zirolla said he first met Bruno D’Amore when they were both teenagers in Italy before they decided to move to the U.S.

“He came here before me, a couple of years before me. Then when I came, he used to come to my house all the time. Then we used to go to the clubs and dancing down the North End,” said Zirolla, 73, referring to the traditionally Italian-American neighborhood of Boston.

After Bruno married, he would still see him around the neighborhood, either at the local doughnut shop or at an annual Italian festival.

“He was a very nice guy,” Zirolla said.

Joe DiMambro said he and Lucia Arpino came from the same town in Italy — Sant’Elia – and that she was a cousin to his godfather. When the two joined a group on a trip to Italy years later, he said he drove her back to the town.

“I’ve known them for all my life here,” he said. “Like I said to her. I don’t say we’re relatives, but we’re paisans.”

A neighbor from across the street recalled seeing Arpino tending to her garden and going on walks with relatives. Lou Didino said nothing like this had ever happened in the sleepy, residential neighborhood.

“It was a shock, a real shock,” the 61-year-old electrician said. “… All of sudden an incident like that and now the neighborhood is tainted. You have to be careful now.”

___ LeBlanc reported from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

National News

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April...

Associated Press

Biden administration announces $600M to produce and distribute COVID tests

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing $600 million in funding to produce new at-home COVID-19 tests and is restarting a website allowing Americans to again order up to four free tests per household

19 minutes ago

Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Menendez says cash found in home was from his personal savings, not bribe proceeds

UNION CITY, N.J. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey defiantly pushed back against federal corruption charges on Monday, saying nearly half a million dollars in cash authorities found in his home was on hand for emergencies and from his savings account, not from bribe proceeds. Rejecting rising calls for him to […]

58 minutes ago

FILE - Traffic streaks by the Cuban Embassy in Washington early Saturday morning, Nov. 26, 2016. U....

Associated Press

Molotov cocktail is thrown at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, but there’s no damage and no injuries

WASHINGTON (AP) — At least one Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, but there was no significant damage and no one was injured. U.S. law enforcement officials were investigating. Secret Service officers were called around 8 p.m. Sunday to respond to the attack on a busy street in the Adams-Morgan section […]

4 hours ago

FILE - The Amazon app is seen on a smartphone, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Marple Township, Pa. Afte...

Associated Press

Amazon is investing up to $4 billion in AI startup Anthropic in growing tech battle

Amazon is investing up to $4 billion in Anthropic and taking a minority stake in the artificial intelligence startup, the two companies said Monday.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina high school mourns after shooting kills 3 teenage students

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina high school is in mourning after three teenage students were killed in a weekend shooting. Sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting in Columbia, the state capital, just after 2 p.m. Sunday, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. They found four people with gunshot wounds, […]

4 hours ago

FILE - A passenger disembarks from Amtrak's Sunset Limited at its final stop in New Orleans, Nov. 2...

Associated Press

Biden administration announces $1.4 billion to improve rail safety and boost capacity in 35 states

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Monday that it has awarded more than $1.4 billion to projects that improve railway safety and boost capacity, with much of the money coming from the 2021 infrastructure law. “These projects will make American rail safer, more reliable, and more resilient, delivering tangible benefits to dozens of communities […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Golden anniversary turns tragic as couple, relative are fatally stabbed and beaten