CW: DISCUSSION OF VIOLENCE
*NOTE: STARRED NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED OUT OF RESPECT FOR THEIR PRIVACY.
HAVEN’T READ PART THREE YET? READ IT HERE.
“Surely many would find what we involved ourselves in, as objectionable.” – Carl Drew
Carl H. Drew grew up on a farm in New Hampshire. It’s been very difficult to find much information about his upbringing, but we do know that he certainly had some good reasons to leave his home for greener pastures. A girlfriend of his told police a story she claimed he had related to her about his childhood. Apparently, his father was rather abusive. He would force Carl to help him butcher pigs and chickens, and to retrieve carcasses from the “slaughter pit,” a big hole in the ground full of, you guessed it, slaughtered animals. He said that he had forced him to dismember a horse that had died in a fire in their barn; Carl resisted. His father had struck him, backing him up until he fell right into that slaughter pit. He expressed to her that he hated slaughtering the animals…apparently moments before relating the story of Karen Marsden’s violent murder (Scammell, p. 241).
The fact that he was an “outsider” of sorts, i.e. not from Fall River, or even Massachusetts, is part of why Carl feels that he was singled out by the authorities as the main culprit in Marsden and Levesque’s murders. Now would be a good time to mention that he has proclaimed his innocence, never wavering, since the beginning.
We all know that no state likes an outsider to come into their state and commit a crime. Those who do never seem to be treated fairly unless they have money for a good attorney who may have connections in that state. I had neither the money or a good attorney, I didn’t think I needed any of those things since I am innocent of the crime I am imprisoned for.Carl Drew, from CarlDrewsFight.com
Outsider status notwithstanding, there is no denying that Carl Drew had built up quite a reputation in Fall River, even prior to the murders. Many witnesses, mainly women who were either sex workers or associated with sex workers, expressed their fear of him. Karen Marsden herself spoke at length, many times, with police about how petrified she was of him. That he had killed Doreen Levesque, that he was going to kill her, and that he had the power of Satan working in his favor. That he took his victims to the rez, tied them to trees or an altar, and tortured them to death, offering their souls to Satan.
There were many more witness accounts of Carl’s violence, even aside from the murders. Physical abuse of his “girlfriends” and of the women who worked the streets for him appears to have been routine.
‘She [Karen] told me when I first started working for him: watch him, he really shoots up, and when that happens, he’s in a bad mood. And whatever he says to do, you say, Yes, Carl, I’ll do it, Carl. So that’s the way it went’ (Scammell, p. 238).
‘He made us rip off clothes and stupid stuff and bring them down to Bedford Street and sell them at half price…he used to say to her, You do it. If you don’t want to fuck around anymore, you’re going to steal.…She was scared to rip stuff, and he’d go, Either you start making your quota or I’ll kill you.…if you can’t make your quota, then he’s going to bust your face in…She said, Why don’t you kill me and get it over with? You’re going to kill me anyway‘ (Scammell, p. 238).
‘He’d be high on heroin, and one time, he goes to me, I wouldn’t kill you right away. I go, What would you want to kill me for? I don’t do nothing bad. He said, That’s why I wouldn’t kill you right away. You give good head….That’s how I prevented my face from getting busted a lot of times’ (Scammell, p. 239).
‘I hate him…I got a broken nose from him. He threatened me. If you don’t work for me, you’ll have to look around your back…He told me if I called the cops, he’d kill my nieces’ (Scammell, p. 240).
Even one of the very few voices attempting to speak in Carl’s favor, his then-girlfriend, had these seemingly contradictory sentiments to share about him:
Detective Lowney: ‘Were you afraid of Carl?’
Girlfriend: ‘Yeah, I am afraid…but I’m not afraid of him like Karen and Robin are.’
Detective Lowney: ‘Did he beat on you?’
Girlfriend: ‘Most of the time, I deserved it’…’He broke my nose on the barges. I was drinking and making a fool out of myself, acting like a bitch. I was drunk and he smacked me – and I wasn’t mad because I know I deserved it.’Scammell, p. 227
So, it seems that Carl’s violence was well known in his circles. Indeed, the opening chapter of Mortal Remains relates the (partially fictionalized) tale of how Carl Drew may have gotten away with killing a man before any of the three murders under discussion. In summary, Carl “tuned up” a john who had punched one of the girls working for him in the face. The man was badly injured, and would end up dying shortly after. Carl had actually escaped from the police as he was sitting in their cruiser, attempting to flee to Canada in the middle of a blizzard, using snowmobiles to make his way. After almost making it, he was brought back to Fall River, but the charges against him would be dropped. Apparently, the man had been a hard drug user, and it couldn’t be proven that the injuries inflicted by Carl Drew had caused his death (Scammell, pp. 9-16).
This propensity toward violence, of course, would be a strike against him when it came to the murders he was accused of. His reputation as a major player on the street, which served him well in his street dealings, would ultimately cast him as the most likely culprit in the murder of Karen Marsden. Also in the murder of Doreen Levesque, although, as previously discussed, charges were never filed against him for her murder. As with the murder of Barbara Raposa, that fact has clearly not stopped media outlets and individuals from placing the responsibility with him. The lore about this is so strong that I have come across numerous, very recent articles, from respected media outlets, attributing all three murders to Carl Drew, when, in reality, he was only charged with and convicted of one of them.
I suppose some do not care about accuracy when it comes to people like Carl Drew. We do, though – right, dear readers?
Another strike against him, although some officials would be loathe to admit it, was his association with Satanism and supposed “cult” activity. This is where Satanic panic comes into play, a social phenomenon we have seen at work in many famous criminal cases. Satanic panic is a specific type of moral panic, a sociological concept which has been defined by Stanley Cohen as occurring when
A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.Cohen, p. 1
New media such as video games, rock and hip-hop music, Hollywood films, and other social changes that had begun taking place as early as the 60’s, all created fertile ground for moral panics to take hold from the mid-to-late 70’s onward. These changes were perceived by many as a threat to traditional “Family Values” in the U.S (Dowland; Warnick, et al).
If you’re reading this blog, the chances are good that you’ve heard of the West Memphis Three (if you have not, check this out). Instances of such miscarriages of justice stem directly from widespread allegations of “Satanic ritual abuse,” a nationwide spate of allegations against childcare workers and others throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Accusations and rumors of widespread, organized rings of child-abusing Satanists mainly stemmed from fundamentalist religious groups and conferences. As moral panics tend to do, these ideas spread through media, exponentially increasing the rumors and accusations.
I’m going to say this in bold print, although I’m sure most of you readers have already gotten the memo on this:
THERE IS NOT, AND THERE NEVER HAS BEEN, PROOF CONFIRMING ALLEGATIONS OF ORGANIZED SATANIC RITUAL ABUSE.
Not for lack of investigation, either (Victor).
This does not mean that, in certain instances, an abuser might use Satanic ideas to terrorize their victims – but in an individual capacity. There has been no proof validating Alex Jones-esque claims of organized Satanic pedophile rings.
But these sorts of accusations continued to pop up due to a combination of factors, not the least of which being confirmation bias. For example, I hear on Maury that I need to watch out, there are Satanic groups that want to kidnap and abuse my children. I go to my child and ask them a bunch of weird questions in a pointed way, and maybe they give me a weird answer or two. I immediately become alarmed, convinced something may have happened to them. I take my child to a psychiatrist, who uses hypnosis and other un-scientific techniques to uncover “repressed memories.” Children want to please parents, police, and other authority figures who are coaxing them, reaching into their memories of movies and popular cultural references to the occult. Being young and impressionable, they become confused as to what has really happened and what has been suggested to them from outside sources…
…and so it goes.
Satanic Panic in Fall River
A small contingent of law enforcement were some of the main proprietors of Satanic Panic in the U.S., convinced that they had uncovered nefarious secret activities. I don’t want to be overly harsh in my analysis here, as I’m certain that many in law enforcement who were swept up into these ideas had the very best intentions at heart.
I have no doubt that Fall River Police heard and saw some strange things during their investigation of the murders under discussion. Indeed, many of the witnesses they spoke with seemed to be ardent believers in the spiritual power of Satan and Carl Drew’s access to it, and the detectives should not be faulted for noting and being curious about what was said.
I have wondered, however, if some of the Fall River Police Officers had become somewhat swept up in their own Satanic panic. I know that at least a few of them pursued this angle vigorously, more so than the State Police.
As I mentioned in the first installment of this series, Detectives Paul Carey and Alan Silvia had even attended a “service” put on by the group at *Melissa’s apartment. Before the service, Melissa explained their activities to the detectives, although it is unclear to me what she was claiming to have personally witnessed, and what she was claiming to have heard from others.
‘What they’re [the Satanic meetings] for is to worship Satan. Just like in a church. We pray to Satan. We chant. We try to conjure him…Plenty of times we get him right into the room – either in a form where we feel his presence, or he takes possession of one of us. You can tell when Satan is there. Some people even let him speak through them, in his own language. It isn’t human speech; there’s no way anybody on earth could fake it’ (Melissa).
She described the ritual sacrifice of animals at ceremonies in the reservation [the Freetown-Fall River State Forest]. Sometimes warm gore from goats or stray cats slaughtered at the site was dropped onto the heads of participants, some willing and some not, who were bound to a tree or at a makeshift altar in place of the crucified Jesus. She also said that even before the Levesque killing, there had been rumors of human sacrifice, but she knew of no such murders…Satanists believed…that physical pleasure in the here and now was a lot better than false promises of spiritual delight in some nebulous afterworld.Scammell, p. 120-121
It is evident that the supposed Satanists were perhaps the biggest victims of Satanic panic of all! The unverified rumors appear to be most rampant in their circles. Perhaps the Satanic talk was more of an intimidation tactic than anything else; rumors spread on purpose by people like Carl Drew, to exert control through fear?
Carl himself describes he and his cohort this way:
Some may think we lived life on the edge. You have to keep in mind that it was the only thing we knew. It was the way we raised our selves with little to no alternative left us in those days. People were more into the “Free Spirited” effects of the times and not worrying about what was happening with kids left on their own, in the street. Some of us came to believe in the Gothic Life Style of ancient times. Where we ‘lived life by night.’ In many ways this was to avoid authority. No evil, dark, macabre nonsense, We found interest in what was described as the ‘Gothic Way.’ Something real, that could be savored and relished in just enjoying the whole beauty and aspects of our world and survival.Carl Drew, Retrieved from TheInjusticeSystem.net
The Satanic worship service attended by Silvia and Carey was apparently uneventful; participants (including Carl Drew and Robin Murphy) sat in a circle and chanted “Hail Satan.” Nothing happened.
At this point, I must be completely candid with you; the officers began to lose me. Because, apparently, Silvia claimed to have witnessed Robin Murphy saying “Satan will have his toll” in a man’s voice, not her own (Scammell, p. 122). I don’t mean this as a personal attack, but simply an observation from the information that I have available to me. Unless the author of Mortal Remains was outright lying about this claim, I can’t help but feel that Silvia’s investment in the case as one that was “spiritual” in nature could potentially have been concerning in terms of his ability to analyze it clearly.
Or, perhaps, he simply misheard who was speaking, related the spooky story, and author Scammell embellished a small comment for dramatic effect in his book. Still, I’d be remiss not to take note of it.
Fall River Police Officer Paul Carey, according to Mortal Remains, “had been keeping a careful record of their collective role in solving the crime, with the intention of turning the story into a bestseller” (Scammell, p. 292). It is also worth mentioning that many details of the investigation, along with occult-themed embellishments, were getting to the newspapers somehow, and that State Police and the DA’s office knew that these leaks were coming from the Fall River Police. But apparently, nothing would materialize out of these ambitions.
‘We solved the case. Kaegael [Police Chief] told us we were supposed to get a commendation before the City Council; we got nothing. I can see the mayor’s point: he didn’t want Satanism brought up in the city of Fall River. The DA didn’t want us to get credit for what we did; he took it all. Nothing came of it. It was the biggest case that ever came out of Fall River in my twenty-four years as a cop. Nothing.’ (Carey)Scammell, p. 299
Carey had apparently made note of certain “suspicious” discoveries in the woods near where Karen Marsden’s remains were found. The owner of the plot of land who had originally found the remains and clothing had also noticed
‘Laid out neatly beside each other in a deliberate, symmetrical pattern, the decaying carcasses of three cats.’
‘A row of gray stones, removed from the nearby wall, lay in a straight line that repeated the perfect geometry of the cats.’Scammell, p. 171
It is specifically noted that Carey showed a great deal of interest in these “discoveries,” whereas other investigators at the scene did not (Scammell, p. 173). Maybe he was a little caught up in Satanic panic…or maybe he thought it could make for interesting reading in the future. While I am not a fan of the idea of peddling moral panics, I don’t blame him. The case is very interesting, and I don’t know why he never ended up writing that bestseller. He passed away recently, with his family up in Maine.
He was certainly not the only one to take an interest in such things when it came to Southeastern Massachusetts in general. One of the main anecdotes that I have been told throughout my life is that sacrificed animals were frequently found in the Freetown-Fall River State Forest. Supposedly, the day after Halloween, one would always find evidence of rites performed the previous night: dogs, cats, and even cows, killed and carved with pentagrams, left out in the woods.
And the lore doesn’t end there. The Freetown-Fall River State Forest has long been considered a “hot spot” of paranormal activity, being one of the geographic points of the “Bridgewater Triangle.” The Bridgewater Triangle is supposedly home to ghosts, demons, bigfoot, thunderbirds, UFO’s, and any other paranormal thing you could think of.
Fun fact: The epicenter of the triangle is the Hockomock swamp, the name of which is Algonquin for “The place where spirits dwell.” This isn’t really related to our story, I just think that is cool.
Also connected to the forest is another horrific murder: the murder of Mary Lou Arruda in 1978. She was 15 and had disappeared from her hometown of Raynham, MA, where her bike had been found on the side of the road. Her body was discovered two months later in the rez when a dirtbike rider happened to come across it. She had been tied to a tree by the neck, and died of positional asphyxia. James Kater was eventually found guilty of her murder, after multiple trials.
All of these stories and events added to the notorious reputation of the Freetown-Fall River State Forest. The Carl Drew connection was another drop in the bucket of spooky stories that became a part of one big macabre legend. By the time of Carl’s trial, the stage was already set for Satanic panic to have an impact on public perceptions.
The Specter of Satanism at Trial
The judge that presided over Carl Drew’s trial specifically instructed the jury to disregard any religious beliefs in their calculus. The trial was moved to another county to try to mitigate for the intensive press coverage that the murder had received. The District Attorney claimed to have enough hard evidence that he wouldn’t need to play up this angle in court.
In spite of this, there are several notable points to consider:
- Before the start of the trial, an interaction took place as noted in Mortal Remains, between some of the Fall River police and Judge Keating, who presided over Carl Drew’s trial. A note was left on Judge Keating’s hotel room door that read “The Fall River Cult Squad has arrived. We’re in the lobby.” They claimed to have thought the room belonged to Dan Lowney, a State Police Officer, and left the note as a joke. Rightly concerned that this would be considered an inappropriate attempt at fraternizing and therefore influencing the Judge’s opinions, the officers went back to this room to explain. They were not admonished, but invited in for drinks with the Judge (Scammell, p. 258-259). Although this was a joke between officials, it is inappropriate to be joking and drinking like buddies behind closed doors immediately preceding a trial that will decide the fate of a human being. They were given the chance to get in the Judge’s head in a private setting, whether intentionally or inadvertently. A judge is only human, and of course this influences his opinions.
- Numerous references to Satanism that did not deal directly with the murders, but with Carl Drew’s alleged personal belief, were heard by jurors at trial. For example, Drew was asked to remove his jacket and show his tattoos to the jury, some of which depicted Satanic imagery and words. He was asked to testify to the fact that *Melissa had one of the same tattoos (Scammell, p. 287-289), clearly referencing a group-cult dynamic without overtly stating it. While this could be considered relevant if the prosecution were presenting a motive based around murder as a Satanic ritual perpetrated by a cult, this was not their stated reasoning. It is a slippery slope in terms of putting one’s religious beliefs on trial.
- Carl Drew was made to touch and hold evidence found in the woods near where Karen Marsden’s skull was found; some clothing and jewelry. His attorney objected to this, but the Judge allowed it (Scammell, p. 288).
- The Prosecution was able to get testimony in that Karen Marsden had witnessed the ritual murder of Doreen Levesque by Carl Drew, but he was never charged with or convicted of said murder.
As with many cases that involved salacious media coverage, even if the state did not wish to emphasize the Satanic angle in lieu of more substantive motives supported by evidence, they sure didn’t hate the media coverage. They were able to allude to the headlines without formally accusing Carl of being the leader of a Satanic cult or having to prove such a claim.
One of several facts that more recent media articles tend to be unclear about is the fact that the only remains ever discovered of Karen Marsden were a calvarium, or the top half of her skull. I’ve come across several articles that refer to her body being discovered in the Westport woods, but it was really only this partial skull. Additionally, in the vicinity, there were strands of hair with scalp fragments attached, clothing, and pieces of jewelry. It was discovered by a man who was clearing brush in the area behind his property by Devol Pond in Westport, a small town near Fall River. While the police were at the scene, this man and his two sons continued searching the nearby woods, where they would discover a sock, a pair of jeans turned inside out, underwear, and a woman’s shoe. Nearby, a jacket and two sweaters were found twisted together, with a women’s watch caught in the sleeve, as if pulled off all at once (Scammell, pp. 168-174).
Since, of course, this was a time before DNA evidence, a forensic anthropologist from the Smithsonian institute was brought in to examine the calvarium. After all, they had to prove that these remains were, in fact, that of Karen Marsden, even though they already believed that they were. The identification was made by comparing x-rays of Karen Marsden’s sinuses retrieved from her doctor; in life, she’d had chronic sinus headaches. Apparently, the reason for these headaches was that she had a distinctly malformed sinus on one side; the one that sits right behind the eyebrow. An x-ray of the found calvarium was compared to Karen Marsden’s x-rays, and the malformation was apparent on both, leading the forensic anthropologist, a man by the name of Dr. Douglas Ubelaker, to conclude that, in his professional opinion, the calvarium was that of Karen Marsden (Scammell, pp. 189-202).
Sympathy for the Devil?
Since Carl Drew has always claimed to be innocent, and since the star witness for the prosecution has recanted her testimony, and since the case hinged on said witness testimony (without known physical evidence connecting Carl Drew to Karen Marsden’s remains), I believe it is worth looking into his points of contention.
It is a difficult position to appear to be “defending” someone who was a habitual criminal and, by most accounts, an abusive jerk, but we are not interested in what is easy; we are interested in what is true. Isn’t that right, dear readers? With that in mind, I wonder; what would the verdict have been if the same trial had occurred in 2019?
We have access to some of Carl Drew’s concerns in his own words. There are two write-ups that he has had published to the internet since his incarceration. They can be found here and here. As of today, he has exhausted his appeals, has requested and been denied a new trial.
Here is a summary of his claims and grievances:
Carl believes that Robin was responsible for the three murders (Levesque, Raposa, and Marsden).
Robin as well as [*Colin] who I’ll tell you a little about later on in this newsletter were known Satanists and proud of this fact. Well, Robin took what she was doing way too far, and on her own killed three young women. This seventeen-year-old young woman had practiced Paganism before she was even ten years old. She was telling the girls who were hanging around with her that there was a cult and the members of this cult would kill them, but if they paid her a fee which she convinced them to get by prostituting themselves, she could protect them. The only one the fee was going to was her, because in her sick mind she was “The Cult.” It seemed Satan had his paws dug so deep into her that nothing seemed too crazy for her to do to those who crossed her path.Carl Drew, Retrieved from CarlDrewsFight.com
He believes that at least one of these murders, that of Karen Marsden, Robin committed along with a man we’ll call *Colin. Carl says that Colin received a light punishment because his father had political connections.
Would someone with a lot of money and/or political pull still be in prison as I am? I think not! This was proven when [Colin] who had the same charges as I did slipped out of prison after two years. On this man’s first day out of jail he committed another act of severe harm. He went directly to [*Melissa’s] home with a dagger in hand and attempted to kill this then one hundred pound, 3 month pregnant woman. He pummeled her with his fists and then kicked her repeatedly while wearing combat boots. He then plunged the dagger into her head screaming at her, ‘I know Robin told you it was me, not Carl Drew, who helped her and I’ll kill you before I go back to jail.’ [Melissa’s] neighbor [name redacted] heard the commotion in the hallway and came out of his apartment to see what was going on. Unbeknownst to him that he was walking out into the hands of a murderer. He ended up with his hand cut off. For these crimes, while supposedly still awaiting trial for the cult murders, [Colin] received a five to seven year sentence. [Melissa] told anyone who would listen that it was [Colin], and not I who had helped Robin Murphy with her crimes, but as you can see it fell on deaf ears because here I still sit doing a Natural Life Sentence! A man with money and political pull fathered [Colin], two things of which I had none. So after his prison sentence was up, he walked out of jail a free man.Carl Drew, Retrieved from CarlDrewsFight.com
He believes that witnesses were instructed by the DA on what to say during his trial.
The whole case revolved around tales from a 17 year old girl, named Robin Murphy…They pounded her with threats of what would happen to her if she didn’t cooperate. Made deals as to what they, could do for her and what ‘rewards’ would be given if she told them just what they wanted to hear. It didn’t take long before Robin was saying just what they wanted to hear and gave their version in her words. -Carl Drew, retrieved here.
The same night that Robin killed Karen with [*Charlene] present, Robin later climbed into [Charlene’s] bedroom window at [Charlene’s] grandmother’s house and told her, “We’ll be questioned and you better say that…Carl Drew handed me the knife and ordered me to kill Karen”. [Charlene] fled to Washington State because she was afraid to testify at the first trial but the State Police found her and brought her back. She was so afraid to testify she tried to take her life by jumping out of a window. They treated it as if it were a joke and didn’t care at all about [Charlene’s] health or state of mind, they forced her to testify right then. [Charlene] was given complete immunity for her testimony at the first trial and she told the lies that Robin had told her to say. She tried recanting and I was never even informed nor was my attorney John Birkness, unless he just never told me which could be highly likely.
[Melissa] was taken into a back room of the courthouse and threatened by DA Ronald Pina, assistant DA Mr. Waxler and my public defender John Birkness. Ronald Pina was screaming at her, telling her that if she said one single word to help me out that she would also be in jail on the other side of me and would lose her child. [Melissa] had a two-year-old special needs daughter at home with no family to help her if she went to jail. They also threatened her with the statement that they would give [Colin] a plea bargain “so good” that he would say anything they told him to say…and with my attorney present. When [Melissa] looked to him for help he just shrugged his shoulders. So [Melissa] pled the fifth because she wouldn’t get up on the stand and lie, but before they took her off the stand she was screaming, ‘they’re making me say this by scaring me, I want to tell the truth!’ The Judge ordered her out of the courtroom.
Another witness, [name redacted] had three prostitution cases pending and was also threatened with two and a half years for each case against her. They also told her that they would make sure her children were taken from her mother. So what was she to do? There was no evidence against me so they threatened three women who were very scared at the thought of going to jail for something at least two of them had nothing to do with.Carl Drew, Retrieved from CarlDrewsFight.com
He claims to have had ineffective assistance of council.
It was only after the book Mortal Remains by Henry Scammell came out that I found out Attorney Birkness had never defended anyone or had ever been involved in any way with a murder trial. Doesn’t that alone show how the Bristol County Legal System right from the time of appointing me an attorney was out to get me? He wasn’t even known to be a lawyer. After my case he never again practiced criminal law….some of these public defenders don’t have the guts or the experience to stand up to the state. That they just do as their told. Of course I had the pleasure of getting one of those.
Attorney O’Boy [another court-appointed lawyer] wouldn’t even give me my own court transcripts when I repeatedly requested them from him. I finally found some people in here who helped me prepare the proper paperwork it takes to do a Rule Thirty. This goes to the board of overseers and they forced Attorney O’Boy to give me back my paperwork. It took a year and a half to get back my own paperwork.Carl Drew, Retrieved from CarlDrewsFight.com
Court documents responding to Carl Drew’s appeals detail the state’s official responses to his complaints. He has exhausted his appeals and been denied a new trial four times. Here are some excerpts from one decision:
The judge at a murder trial did not abuse his discretion in denying the defendant’s request for a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum to procure the attendance of an inmate-witness to testify as to the contents of a note written by a third party in a jail cell several months after the crime, where, since the offered testimony was hearsay and not admissible under the exception to the hearsay rule for statements of a coconspirator, the attendance of the witness could not be said to be “necessary to an adequate defense” …the testimony was not admissible because there were no corroborating circumstances that clearly indicated the trustworthiness of the statement…
…the judge did not err in admitting over objection evidence regarding the defendant’s participation in Satanic cult rituals, where the evidence showed the entire relationship between the victim and the defendant and was inextricably intertwined with the description of events that transpired on the night of the killing.
…evidence of the defendant’s alleged involvement in an earlier murder was properly admissible, in the judge’s discretion, to show motive, to demonstrate the victim’s state of mind, and to establish the entire relationship between the defendant and the victim…
At a murder trial, the judge’s instructions to the jury regarding the use of prior convictions for impeachment purposes, viewed in the context of his entire charge, were sufficient to inform the jury that they were the ultimate arbiters of credibility, and that it was for them to decide whether, and to what extent, a conviction of a particular crime may affect credibility.Commonwealth vs. Carl H. Drew, 1986
A Change of Heart
In the years to follow, Fall River Officer Paul Carey, one of the investigators who was instrumental in putting Carl Drew behind bars, would have a change of heart. He came to the opinion that Carl Drew had not, in fact, been involved in any of the murders. He, like Drew himself, felt that Robin Murphy was the culprit in all three murders. He was vocal about this belief for years, even submitting a write-up to the local newspaper. Some details in his write up do not jibe with the other sources I have come across; for example, Carey states that Carl Drew was Doreen Levesque’s pimp, when, according to Robin’s account, the reason for Doreen’s murder was that she refused his demands to work for him. It is possible that my sources are wrong and he is correct on these details; I have not been given access to official police case records. His overall theory is this:
But I still believe Murphy was the real ringleader, not Drew: that Levesque was murdered because Murphy was also in love with her and became jealous when Levesque starting seeing Drew. I believe Murphy and Marsden were present when Levesque was killed.
I think Murphy killed Raposa because Raposa was in love with Maltais. Murphy admitted that she and Raposa had previously been lovers. And, I believe Murphy killed Marsden because of the two previous murders. Marsden was at the scene of those murders, and I believe Murphy knew she was the weak link and might get them convicted. Also, Murphy later admitted during the Levesque investigation that she lied in naming two other men as Levesque’s killers. She later told the DA that she didn’t even know the men she had accused. The DA was then forced to release the men. No one was ever prosecuted for the murder of Levesque.Paul Carey, Retrieved from TheInjusticeSystem.net.
I don’t know of any hard evidence to support these theories, except that it is, in fact, true that the man originally accused of murdering Doreen along with Drew was released, with no one ever charged for her murder.
Although Carey remained with the Fall River police for several years, some turbulence appears to have arisen in his relationship to the organization. He was in fact, arrested and charged with a crime:
On or about July 1, 1983, defendant Conroy ordered, authorized or encouraged defendant Desrochers to seek and obtain a criminal complaint charging Carey with unlawfully influencing a witness furnishing information to a criminal investigator, and corruptly offering a gift with intent to influence the testimony of a witness.Carey vs. City of Fall River
For Carey’s part, he sued the FRPD:
Plaintiffs Paul J. Carey, a former Fall River police officer, and his wife Carol Carey have brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Paul Carey’s rights under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution were violated when he was arrested and prosecuted in retaliation for investigating criminal allegations made against other members of the Fall River police force.Carey vs. City of Fall River
He was unsuccessful in his attempt to sue because the court felt there was not enough proof that Carey was arrested without probable cause (Paul J. Carey, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. City of Fall River, et al., Defendants, Appellees). As far as the details of who he was investigating in the FRPD, and why: I have no clue! I am digging around about this, and I will be sure to update with anything I find.
I can’t help but wonder whether Carey’s change of heart about Carl Drew had anything to do with his subsequent legal troubles. We know that Carl Drew has alleged coercion and tampering with witnesses; I wonder if this had anything to do with what Carey was investigating? Was he ruffling some feathers, inciting the ire of the department who then dug up bogus charges to arrest him for? Or was he the one who was handling witnesses inappropriately, getting himself justifiably arrested? I truly don’t know, as I have not as yet been able to find any details of his charges; the entirety of my information on this has come from his subsequent lawsuit against the FRPD.
One more interesting tidbit about Paul Carey: he was named by known local gangster Timothy Mello. Mello was an associate of the Patriarca crime family who was arrested and went to trial in 2006. Carey was among several officials and local businessmen named by Mello as having some connection to organized crime, though, to my knowledge, nothing came of these accusations (Spillane). Was THIS related to the allegations that lead to Carey’s arrest years before? Is this a reason to doubt his credibility? Again, I have no idea – it is possible that Mello was simply rattling off names, attempting to work out a deal for himself, especially since Carey was apparently not in trouble. I found it worth mentioning, regardless.
When Carl Drew was attempting to get a new trial in 2004, Carey was one of several to speak on his behalf. He was cross examined for hours by the ADA, who called his credibility into question, accusing him of similar actions to those he’d been arrested for years ago: paying off witnesses to recant their previous testimony. This prolonged, aggressive questioning may not have gone over well with the judge, though, who remarked that it was looking like “an ambush” (Miliote). In addition to Carey, Robin Murphy, *Melissa, *Charlene, and *Andrea, all former state’s witnesses, recanted their prior statements. All of them claimed to have been threatened or coerced by then DA and ADA Ronald Pina and David Waxler.
Judge Connor’s decision was not in Carl’s favor. He did not find any of the recanting witnesses, including Robin Murphy, to be credible.
Connor found that Murphy’s testimony was ‘the most incredulous of all the witnesses’ at the hearing.
‘She maintains that she has no recall of Feb. 8, 1980,’ the day of Karen Marsden’s murder, Connor stated, ‘that she doesn’t remember what she told the representatives of the District Attorney’s office on April 29 through May 1 of 1980; and that she doesn’t remember testifying at the trial that the defendant killed Marsden.’
‘The testimony of Murphy’s fellow prostitutes and the police officers who were involved in the Marsden investigation in 1991 reveal Murphy to be a very intelligent, controlling and violent person whose primary interest was taking care of herself,’ Connor said. ‘Twenty-three years in prison have not changed that impression.’Durand, Herald News
Apparently, Murphy was not there by choice, and answered most questions by saying that she did not remember. She had recently been paroled, and likely did not want to jeopardize her freedom by saying the wrong things. The other statements, particularly those of *Melissa and *Charlene, are extreme. For example, Melissa’s description of being asked by then District Attorney Ronald Pina “which friend she wants to keep” (i.e. Robin or Charlene) seems rather dubious in my humble opinion, but that is what she said. Charlene claimed that she did witness Karen Marsden about to be murdered by Robin Murphy, but that this did not take place in the woods. She said that they got into a fight at Harbor Terrace, went up on the roof, and that Robin stabbed Karen.
‘They were fighting and Robin started pulling Karen’s hair out of her head,’ [Charlene] testified. ‘I saw Robin put the knife toward Karen and I ran off. I was scared.’
[*Charlene], continuing her emotional testimony, then said that on the day after the Feb. 8, 1980 murder, she overheard Murphy tell *Colin ‘she still had Karen’s hair under her fingernails.’
‘We never went to the Westport woods,’ [Charlene] testified. ‘That never happened.’
[Charlene] said her original trial testimony was shaped by Murphy, and later by former Assistant District Attorney David Waxler.Miliote, Herald News
As for Drew’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, Judge Connor referred to the original findings of Drew’s initial appeal, where it had been found that a new trial was not warranted. The District Attorney’s office spoke in strong terms about the allegations against former ADA Waxler:
‘We’re also gratified by Judge Connor’s total rejection of the reckless, unfounded accusations against David Waxler and other members of the prosecuting team,’ Connelly said. ‘It was not difficult for us to find many people, including sitting judges, to come forward to testify as to his impeccable reputation.’Durand, Herald News
The most recent instance of the issue being addressed that I could locate was an article from 2012 stating that then-DA Sutter intended to have a meeting with Paul Carey to discuss Carl Drew’s case. As of that time, Drew had exhausted his appeals, and his attorney stated their intentions of contacting the Innocence Project for assistance. He also intended to seek a commutation from the governor, whose office stated that they would require a recommendation from the parole board (Foley).
Sutter also mentioned that there would be zero possibility, regardless of decisions related to Carl Drew, of trying Robin Murphy for any of the murders Carey suspects her of. In his words, “The immunity agreement is almost iron-clad” (Foley).
When first beginning to look into these murders, I was sure that most of what I’d heard about them were urban legends stemming from Satanic panic. In some respects, I think I was right. I certainly do not think that Satanism was the driving force behind any of these murders; the “proof” of rituals and Satanic motives are dubious at best, in my opinion. Rock formations and dead animals will never be more convincing evidence of motivations because there are already criminal elements we’ve seen a million times: drugs, human trafficking, and other ordinary, non-Satanic street crime.
I don’t, however, think that Satan-worship is irrelevant in this story. On the contrary, I think we might have seen different results at trial if not for macabre factors woven throughout questioning and witness testimony. That is not to say that I think Carl Drew is innocent of the crimes for which he is accused, but that I believe there were certain inappropriate references to Satan at trial that did not need to be there. Jurors minds very well could have hearkened back to the sensational headlines from months prior, and this would color their interpretation of the evidence. I think that Robin’s and others’ testimony would have been enough, without pointing out his tattoos, and asking about “rituals” and such.
Do I think Carl Drew is innocent of Karen Marsden’s murder? I don’t know. The only way I could see that is if Robin did it, because otherwise the notion that she would insert herself the way she did is ludicrous. I do not believe her when she states that she made that story up to get Carl Drew off the streets. If that were her only goal, she could have cast herself as more of a spectator and less of a participant in the murder.
The question is, then, is Carl Drew lying or is Robin Murphy lying? I cannot help but note that Drew’s story has remained largely consistent, barring what appears, to me, to be reluctance to confirm or completely deny Satan worship (to police, he is alleged to have admitted it, sometimes he flat-out denies it, sometimes he talks about having had “gothic ways”…it appears wishy-washy to me). Murphy’s story has changed wildly throughout the years. So if you’re looking for a proven liar, in the sense of what has happened in front of the public, Murphy better fits the bill.
Carl Drew, however, is certainly not innocent in the literal sense of the word, since many witnesses have attested to his violence against women, and his previous criminal record attests to several armed robberies.
Pretty much every witness in this situation could have had their own reasons to lie. I find it impossible to say with one hundred percent certainty what I think is the truth.
In my opinion, it never hurts to test evidence for DNA. Although I do not know if the physical evidence has been preserved or disposed of over the years. Maybe if the Innocence Project takes an interest that could happen.
I don’t see it happening, though. Matters that belong to Fall River are never going to be high on anyone’s priority list. Not even for the people who live here. As local rapper “Ridiculuz” once said, “You won’t get far in F-R.“
Carey v. City of Fall River. 708 F. Supp. 431. D. Mass. July 15 1988. Retrieved here.
COMMONWEALTH vs. CARL H. DREW. 397 Mass. 65. November 4, 1985 -March 12, 1986. Bristol County. Retrieved here.
COMMONWEALTH vs. CARL H. DREW. 447 Mass. 635. September 5, 2006 – November 9, 2006. Suffolk County. Retrieved here.
Paul J. Carey, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. City of Fall River, et al., Defendants, Appellees. 870 F.2d 40. 1st Cir. Heard Jan. 9, 1989. Decided March 20, 1989. Retrieved here.
COMMONWEALTH vs. JAMES M. KATER. 409 Mass. 433. December 3, 1990 – March 4, 1991. Middlesex County. Retrieved here.
Cohen, S. (2011-04-01). Folk Devils and Moral Panics (Routledge Classics). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
Dowland, S. (2009). “Family Values” and the Formation of a Christian Right Agenda. Church History, 78(3), 606-631.
Durand, K. (February 1, 2005) Drew denied new trial. Herald News. Retrieved from Religion News Blog.
Foley, J. (May 26, 2012) Bristol County prosecutors to review Satanic killings. Herald News. Retrieved from WCVB News.
Laskey, M. (September 6, 2016) Sex, Satanism, and Sacrificial Slaughter: The Fall River Cult Murders, 1979-80. Retrieved here.
Miliote, G.M. (October 19, 2004) Former detective grilled at cult trial. The Taunton Gazette. Retrieved from Religion News Blog.
Miliote, G.M. (October 22, 2004) Cult killer story takes a turn. Herald News. Retrieved from Religion News Blog.
Scammell, H. (1991) Mortal Remains: A True Story of Ritual Murder. Harper Collins, NY.
Spillane, J. (May 4, 2006) South coast officials deny mobster’s accusations. Standard-Times, p. A08
Victor, J. (1993). Satanic panic : the creation of a contemporary legend. Chicago: Open Court.
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