Harbor Terrace, Part Two: The Murder of Barbara Raposa

CW: Some discussion of violence
Scroll to the bottom for a glossary of people in this story.
*Note: Starred names have been changed out of respect for their privacy.
Haven’t read part one yet? Check it out here.

Twenty year old Barbara Raposa’s murder is typically discussed as a part of the same cluster as Doreen Levesque and Karen Marsden. Since I had always heard that there were three victims in the “Fall River Cult murders,” I had always assumed that Carl Drew had been the culprit. This is actually not the case. Barbara knew the Bedford Street and Harbor Terrace crowd, some better than others, reportedly due to her dabbling in sex work. Her boyfriend at the time stated that they had gone out to eat at D’Angelos, “…after which she had decided to go uptown for a couple of hours to make some money on the street” (Scammell, p. 58). This would be the last time he saw her.

She had a 4 year old son named Eric, who was thereafter cared for by Barbara’s family. There was not much information available about Barbara that I could find other than what has been reported in the newspapers and in Henry Scammell’s book; I have not even been able to locate a single photo of her. I have the impression that she may have been somewhat estranged from her family, but I don’t know that for sure.

Her body was found on January 26, 1980, by a man out with his dogs in a wooded area by Jefferson Street in Fall River, behind a factory building called R.E. Smith Company. Her wrists were bound and above her head, which had been bludgeoned beyond recognition, likely by chunks of concrete blocks that surrounded the body, flecks of which were later found in her head and facial wounds.

Police said the partly clad body of the girl was attired in a blouse and brassiere, which were in disarray. Other clothing, including a heavy jacket and jeans, were nearby. There was no pocketbook, purse, or any identification on or near the body.

Dunbar, The Herald News
The area behind what used to be R.E. Smith Company (which closed in 2009), where the remains of Barbara Raposa were found

As it was not the norm to find the bodies of young women beaten to death with rocks in Fall River (as I imagine it is not the norm in most places), particularly within such a close time frame, it makes sense that the murders of Barbara and Doreen would be linked in the minds of many. They also shared some specifically similar features, such as both victims being bottomless with their shirts left on, both being bound at the wrists, and both being involved in sex work. Law enforcement seemed to want to dispel the idea that they were connected, at least publicly, saying:

While the murder appears similar to that of Doreen Levesque, 19, of this city, whose bludgeoned and partly nude body was found beneath the bleachers at the athletic field at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School last fall, police see no real links in the deaths. ‘Shooting deaths are similar and these two deaths, of this girl and the Levesque girl have similar facets, but thus far we have nothing to say they are linked.’ [police Lieutenant] Kaegael said.

Dunbar, The Herald News

The man who would eventually be convicted of Barbara’s murder was named Andy Maltais, and he was marginally connected to the Bedford Street social circles. At 42 years old, he was significantly older than the rest of that crowd, however. He had served time in prison years before, “…on a sex conviction involving a couple of fifteen year old girls” (Scammell, p. 51). Maltais had spoken about his “girlfriend” Barbara Raposa, missing to both police and to people around him. It seems that she was more accurately his ex-girlfriend, and even more accurately his statutory rape victim. They had apparently lived together a few years prior, and he claimed to be the father of her son (this is not verified to be true as far as I know); that would mean that he had gotten her pregnant at age 15 or 16. This fits his pattern of abusing very young girls. Indeed, one of his additional connections to the Bedford Street group is that he apparently molested Robin Murphy when she was 11 years old, continuing to do so over the years since then.

Essentially, his connection to the Bedford Street/ Harbor Terrace crowd can be summed up by stating that he frequently preyed on very young sex workers with impunity.

FRPD detectives Silvia and Joaquim interviewed Maltais the day after Barbara’s body was discovered, and were immediately suspicious of him. He was one of those people who would never stop talking unless someone interjected, but somehow never said anything substantial. To put it kindly, he didn’t appear to be very bright, and the detectives chose to use that to their advantage.

Andy Maltais, flanked by Police Officers Alan Silvia (left) and Paul Fitzgerald (right); Retrieved from Scammell

At some point in their interview, after extensive rambling, Maltais brought up how he “Used to be with Satan,” but “Now I’m with God,” and that he was a born-again Christian (Scammell, p. 44). Detective Silvia began to steer the conversation toward psychics, claiming to have “the gift” of clairvoyance, and to think that Maltais also possessed it. Maltais responded earnestly to this idea and embraced it; it seemed to make him feel special. This special “gift” that he seemed to believe he shared with Detective Silvia would be critical to breaking the case.

Maltais also had an ongoing, unofficial “informant” sort of relationship with Corporal Paul Fitzgerald of the Massachusetts State police CPAC (Crime Prevention and Control Unit), who had been working Doreen Levesque’s case. Initially, Maltais had contacted Fitzgerald with a tip about Doreen’s case; he brought Robin Murphy and Karen Marsden in to speak with Fitzgerald. Murphy, seemingly more composed and perhaps more streetwise than her older counterpart, did not say a word other than cursory greetings and noncommittal statements of “could be” or “I don’t know.” Marsden, however, came right out and said that Carl Drew was responsible for Doreen Levesque’s murder. She would, however, not say anything more than that; she refused to even say how she knew this information. So, Fitzgerald was not really able to do much with that at this point.

Although Corporal Fitzgerald did not get much more out of Maltais in terms of the Levesque murder, Maltais continued to contact him in an ongoing capacity, basically by calling or dropping by multiple times a week to chat his ear off.

It was not uncommon in a conversation for him [Maltais] to start twelve different topics and go nowhere with any of them. Fitzgerald made an effort to control him, to keep him pointed in a direction, patiently bringing him back, again and again, to the question of how Karen knew what she knew with no tangible result.

Scammell, 56

It seemed that Maltais enjoyed the idea that he had “friends in high places,” so to speak, so he wanted to make sure he kept himself on Fitzgerald’s radar. Fitzgerald allowed this in the hopes that Maltais might eventually reveal something useful in the midst of his ramblings.

Perhaps there was some calculation in Maltais’ frequent contact with Fitzgerald as well; attempts to insert himself into the investigation and deflect suspicion away from himself. He often mentioned other people who he claimed to be suspicious of. Indeed, it was noted in the court decision against him in 1982 (after his conviction) when he was claiming that he had been deceived into giving a “false confession” of sorts, that,

We note that, on the basis of the evidence before them, both the motion judge and the jury reasonably could have found the defendant’s “cooperation” to be based on his desire to throw police investigators off his track and to apprise himself of the progress of their investigations.

COMMONWEALTH vs. ANDRE O. MALTAIS, 387 Mass. 79

He would soon realize that he had taken such efforts too far for his own good.

Fall River Central Police Station
158 Bedford Street
1916–1997, Retrieved from
FRPD

Back to the discovery of Barbara’s remains – Maltais had eventually been released by the FRPD, having been interviewed for many hours without giving much information. Several days later, he would call Corporal Fitzgerald, claiming to have had a vision of what happened to Barbara in a dream. Seemingly, Detective Silvia’s tactic of spiritual commiseration was paying off.

Everyone met up at the DA’s office in the neighboring city of New Bedford: Fitzgerald, Silvia, Joaquim, FRPD Lieutenant Ted Kaegael, another FRPD detective named Tony Correia, and District Attorney Ronald Pina. In the presence of two court stenographers, Maltais was read his rights and questioned. He related the story as if it were a dream or a vision he’d had.

The following paragraph contains excerpts of Maltais’ statement describing Barbara’s murder; I’d encourage anyone who might be averse to violent descriptions to skip it.

Pina: What was in his hand? A knife? A gun?

Maltais: Two hands- in the air – something holding in between-

Pina: Knife or a gun?

Maltais: From what I could see, it looked like a rock.

Pina: What was he doing with that?

Maltais: Leaning over. And he was hitting her more, coming down hard on her face. I seen her body jump off the ground, and her feet, she was laying on her back, and he was back of her, hitting her, so her body would be lying out down of him. I seen her feet come up and he was, you know, like he was really mad at her – coming down with a rock on her face.

Pina: When did you find out it was Barbara?

Maltais: When I looked around the tree, when she yells out, ‘Stop,’ and is looking for me, calling me.

Pina: You heard her call you?

Maltais: I believe I heard her call, ‘Andy, help me. Stop.’ Can’t stop, got to go to her. I tried, can’t help her or him, can’t stop him. She was hollering. She was not dead, but she couldn’t get up and run, and this is what was bugging me. Something about him, over and over, hitting her.

Pina: Was he saying anything?

Maltais: He was mad – couldn’t understand what he was saying – very angry and violent – really mad at her for some reason or other, mad at her.

Pina: Was he calling her names or anything?

Maltais: Well, I think it might of been a love affair. Myself – she had a love affair with somebody – someone who liked her – and she double-crossed that person. So that led up to the killing. And so on and so forth.

Pina: Could you think for a minute, Andy, if a man was – relax, just relax. Put yourself back there. Think about the man. What is he saying? You say he is angry – see if you can think of what he said. It would help us.

Maltais: Somehow or other I can’t get his face to move his mouth. I can see him, but not clearly.

Pina: Alright. And you know he’s no little guy, he’s a big guy?

Maltais: I can see this, you know, that he’s a big fellow – and the way the hands – what he had in his hands – it was easy for him to do. That’s what I can see – myself – he was somebody that knew how to chop wood, you know?

Pina: And Barbara was saying ‘Andy, help me.’ She says that once?

Maltais: I think this is – this is why I stepped in closer, you know? I was trying to get to him, to make him stop. But I can’t.

Pina: Was he saying something at the time?

Maltais: He was mumbling something, ‘Andy isn’t going to help you anymore.’ I don’t know –

Pina: Think if you can remember. Take your time.

Maltais: I’m trying to think it, I’m trying. Come and go, come and go, you know? This is one of those things.

Pina: The rock – Does it look like something that was around on the ground, or something special that he brought?

Maltais: The area was pretty clean there –

Pina: Was she going to fight in any way? Did you see that?

Maltais: They were mumbling to one another. I knew she was alive. Can’t hear his name. All I can see is him hitting her; that’s all they’re allowing me to see right now. Now I see him dropping her to the ground. She’s hollering, and he’s hollering back at her. He backs away, evidently to pick up an object, and he comes back. I’m getting closer and closer to him. He’s mumbling, talking to her. He’s very angry – a fellow of Portuguese descent. I can’t hear what he’s saying. I want to get closer. I feel myself trying to grab him, but I just can’t.

Pina: But she says, ‘Andy, help me’

Maltais: She did holler that. ‘Andy, forgive me.’

Pina: What was this they were talking about? Something about Doreen Levesque?

Maltais: I don’t know. I can tell you the way he’s doing this, he knows what he’s doing.

Pina: So he could have heard about the other girl and planned it in the same way?

Maltais: Somehow or other.

Pina: Why?

Maltais: Either he didn’t like prostitutes – something against them – or he’s doing it to find revenge on somebody, you know? I don’t think there is no love affair because I can see she don’t love him, you know? – This fellow – whoever she’s with – don’t love him, because she asks me for forgiveness, you know? I could see her crying.

Pina: This man – does he love her?

Maltais: This man? I don’t know if he loves her. I don’t think he loves her. He’s doing it through hate. He has something on her – to keep her quiet, you know?

Pina: It would help if you could remember why he hated her. Sometimes it helps if there’s a motive. Anything else you can think of?

Maltais: No, not at this moment.

Scammell, pp. 69-73

At this point, they brought Maltais to the scene where Barbara’s body was discovered, stenographers in tow to record everything. He immediately pointed out the exact location where Barbara’s body had been discovered, even going so far as to explain which directions her feet and head were facing. He then went back to his “vision” of her murder. One thing he said was extremely incriminating, since the details of the murder weapon were not public knowledge at this point:

Maltais: The rock was square at the sides

[Walks over to and gestures to a pile of concrete slabs]

Maltais: I sense a murder weapon here. It might have been a piece of concrete.

Scammell, p. 79

At that, all present felt assured of Maltais’ guilt – he simply had expressed far too many precise details about the crime that had not been public knowledge. He was arrested and charged, much to his chagrin. He seemed to have thought that his psychic bit would help him implicate someone else. I do not know this for a fact, of course, but murdering Barbara for “betraying” him by being with another man (her then boyfriend), then seeing that man imprisoned for the murder, seems like the kind of revenge he may have been seeking.

The proverbial nail in the coffin for Maltais came when Robin Murphy testified to being present during the murder of Barbara. For future reference, take note that she was, according to her testimony, present at all three murders in question; she, not Carl Drew, is the most solid connection between them. Also, note that this statement came before she was arrested or accused of anything, and was not part of the deal she would later get in exchange for her testimony at Karen Marsden’s trial. She made the following statement to the Major Crimes Division at the police department on February 9, 1980, taken by Detectives Roger St. Pierre and Joe Phelan:

Robin Murphy stated that on November 7, 1979, between the hours of 11 PM and 1 AM, while in the Mahogany Cafe located on Pleasant and Flint Streets, she called Andy (Andre Maltais) at his home and asked him for a ride to her mother’s home located at [address redacted] in Fall River. During the telephone conversation, Andy told her he had just received a call from Barbara (Barbara Raposa) asking him to come pick her up at Sambo’s diner on Pleasant Street. A short time later, Andy picked up Robin at the corner of Flint and Pleasant Streets and proceeded to Sambo’s. Enroute to Sambo’s, Andy made the statement, ‘I’m going to kill that Barbara for going out with that Cowen.’

Robin stated that when she and Andy reached Sambo’s, she jumped into the backseat upon the request of Andy, allowing Barbara to get into the front seat. An argument began with Robin as to what Robin was doing in the car with Andy; it continued until they reached the intersection of Jefferson Street and Brayton Avenue, at which time Barbara turned and punched Robin in the face. In return, Robin grabbed Barbara by the hair and neck, pulling her into the backseat. They continued to fight while Andy proceeded south on Jefferson Street. At one time during the fight, Robin remembers biting Barbara somewhere on the breast.

The auto suddenly made an abrupt left turn, causing both Barbara and Robin to be thrown against the right hand rear door. A short distance after the turn, the auto came to a stop. Andy got out of the car and opened the rear door and pulled Barbara off of Robin, [and restrained] Barbara outside of the vehicle. Robin stated that she heard Barbara and Andy talking outside but she could not hear what they were saying. Barbara began to calm down.

Andy released Barbara and went to the rear of the car. He opened the trunk and removed a brown paper bag. Robin described the bag as containing Andy’s gadgets, such as a rubber penis, etc. Barbara and Andy walked a short distance from the car. Barbara removed her coat and placed it on the ground. She also removed her jeans. Barbara then lay on the ground in the area where she had put her coat, and Andy lay on top of her. We asked Robin if Barbara’s blouse or bra had been removed, and Robin said ‘No’ because it was cold out that night…

A short time later, Robin said she heard what sounded like an argument between Andy and Barbara. She saw Andy beating Barbara with his fists. Robin turned her head away. Upon hearing a scream, she turned back. Andy [was] sitting on top of Barbara with his two hands raised, holding a rock over Barbara. She then saw Andy come down with the rock in…the approximate area where Barbara’s head would have been. Andy then got up and put the gadget back in the bag. He looked down at Barbara and said ‘Let’s see you crawl home from here.’ Andy then placed the bag back in the trunk, got back into the auto and drove off. He asked Robin where she wanted to go and Robin told him to please take her to her mother’s home. She was so scared, she could not recall any conversation.

On November 8, 1979, in the morning hours, Robin received a call from Andy. Andy [asked], ‘What happened to Barbara?’ Robin answered, ‘I don’t know.’ Robin stated that on several occasions, Andy had dated different girls and had hurt them. Each time, he would call Robin the following morning, asking her how (whatever girl he had dated the night before) was. On each occasion, Robin would answer the same, ‘I don’t know.’

Scammell, p. 97-99
Aerial view of the former R.E. Smith Company (indicated with red marker); the area was once wooded, and the houses around it are new. The circled area is where both Maltais and Robin had indicated that Barbara was murdered, and where her remains were found.

After providing her statement, Robin was taken to the location of the murder, where she was able to accurately point out the location where the body had been found. She was put under police protection and checked into a hotel in nearby Dartmouth, but she still came and went as she pleased. She still spent plenty of time hanging out around Bedford Street and Harbor Terrace…

Between Maltais’ own description of his “psychic dream” and Robin Murphy’s eyewitness testimony, he was convicted of the first degree murder of Barbara Ann Raposa on January 30, 1981 (COMMONWEALTH vs. ANDRE O. MALTAIS). He was sentenced to life in prison. He passed away after serving six years, having continued his appeals process throughout that time (Scammell, p. 300).

Robin Murphy, who claimed to have borne witness to the murders of Doreen Levesque and Barbara Raposa, and to have participated in the murder of Karen Marsden, would have even more to say in the days, months, and years to come. The police found her to be a cunning person, despite her young age. Carl Drew would have been an easy person to roll on; by all accounts, he was an abusive pimp. The devil tattoos and talk made him all the more frightening to the average person. Was she a victim, or was she playing the system to save herself?

To be continued…

References:

COMMONWEALTH vs. ANDRE O. MALTAIS. 387 Mass. 79. Bristol County. May 4, 1982 – August 4, 1982. Retrieved from http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/387/387mass79.html#back5

Dunbar, J. N. (1980, January 27). Body found in woods may be city woman. The Herald News.

Scammell, H. (1991) Mortal Remains: A True Story of Ritual Murder. Harper Collins, NY.

3 thoughts on “Harbor Terrace, Part Two: The Murder of Barbara Raposa

  1. Pingback: Harbor Terrace, Part Three: Robin Marie Murphy – Lines and Strings

    1. Kelly

      Notre Dame Cemetery? I love going for walks there! 🙂 Born and raised in the south end myself. Is he still around? I’m glad to see that locals are finding these articles 🙂

      Like

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