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Wayland Police Arrest Young Man In Ex-Girlfriend’s Murder

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Lauren Astley and Nate Fujita

Lauren Astley and Nate Fujita

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WAYLAND (CBS) – A former Wayland High School football player was ordered held without bail Tuesday, charged with the murder of his former girlfriend, 18-year-old Lauren Astley, over the weekend.

18-year-old Nathaniel Fujita of Wayland was taken into custody early Tuesday morning.  He was arraigned in the afternoon at Framingham District Court.

Both Astley and Fujita graduated last month. Prosecutors say they had been boyfriend and girlfriend for three years, but the relationship had ended recently.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.

A bicyclist found Astley’s body in a marshy area off Route 27 near the Sudbury town line Monday morning.

“I wish I knew more, abolsutely.  You always think there’s something else you could have done, something you might have missed,” said Malcon Astley, Lauren’s dad.

Police had found her Jeep at the Wayland town beach parking lot Sunday night about an hour after she finished work at her job at the Natick Collection.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports.

FINAL HOURS

According to prosecutors, Astley and Fujita exchanged phone calls while at she was at work and she told co-workers she was going to meet him when her shift was done.

Fujita later told police on three occasions that he had spoken with Astley briefly at his home. He said she had parked her car up the road and left after short, “awkward” conversation.

Astley was found with a gaping, horrific wound to her throat, according to prosecutors, and a bungee cord wrapped around her neck. Middelex County DA Gerry Leone added Tuesday that Astley was killed by strangulation from “a ligature and a wound to her neck using a sharp object.”

Prosecutors did not say where she was killed.

POLICE EVIDENCE

At Fujita’s home, police say they found blood on the floor of the garage and a bungee cord nearby.

There was also blood found on a door handle, the kitchen floor, the kitchen sink and a bathroom sink.

Investigators say they later found Fujita’s bloody clothes and sneakers in a crawl space by his bedroom and that the clothes also had dirt consistent with being in a marsh.

His mother took him to his aunt’s house in Framingham, where he was arrested at 2 a.m.

Police had issued an all-points bulletin for Fujita Monday night.  Authorities went to his home and seized an SUV.

Astley’s father Malcolm told WBZ-TV Monday he did not know of any problems between his daughter and Fujita.

“If I had thought there was anything amiss like that I would have been hot on it.  I’m alert to those issues,” said Malcom Astley. “I cry every five to eight minutes, then there’s stability again.”

Fujita joined a Facebook page aimed at finding Astley just hours after she was reported missing.

‘HORRIFIC AND CHILLING’

Wayland schools superintendent Paul Stein, in just his second day on the job, told reporters Tuesday the murder was a “horrific and chilling turn” for the community.

“This shouldn’t happen anywhere or to anyone,” he said.  “This event may rock our feeling of security and safety.”

WBZ-TV’s David Robichaud reports.

Astley planned to attend Elon University in North Carolina this fall.

Fujita has no prior record. He was accepted and planned to attend Trinity College, where he was recruited to play football.

His father Tomo is an assistant professor at the Berklee College of Music.  Astley once interviewed him and posted the video on YouTube.

“Lauren’s mother and I share the anguish of Nate’s parents who put so much caring and love into Nate and my daughter as well. We want them to know that,” Malcolm Astley said Tuesday.

Grief counselors were being made available to students Tuesday at the Happy Hollow Elementary School.

This is the first murder in Wayland in 25 years.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano contributed to this report.

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