GROVELAND (CBS) – A man was arrested for a brutal murder in Groveland last week, the first killing in the town in 27 years.
Leedell Graham, 48, of Haverhill, was arraigned Friday in Haverhill District Court on one count of murder in the death of 82-year-old Patsy Schena. He will be held without bail.
Schena was found dead in his home on Governors Road June 21. The Essex District Attorney’s Office called the crime “shocking and brutal.”
In court, prosecutors said the murder weapon was a lamp, found in a bag of items Graham took from the home.
Also in the bag were Schena’s keys, a piece of jewelry, and knife handle, prosecutors said, and the knife’s blade was found in Schena’s house.
According to prosecutors, Graham is seen on surveillance video going into Schena’s home on at 4:16 p.m. on June 21. Schena returned home at 4:23 p.m. and Graham walked out at 4:30 p.m. The medical examiner determined Schena died of blunt and sharp force trauma.
Schena was well-known in town. He was a longtime Groveland building inspector and an antique seller, described as a friendly and fair gentleman.
There’s no word yet on a motive.
“The defendant, in this case, knew the victim through various business dealings,” said Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett Friday morning, but he did not elaborate.
According to Schena’s best friend, Lance Blais, the two knew each other through antiquing.
Graham was arrested in Haverhill around 9:30 p.m. Thursday and held overnight at the Middleton House of Correction. He is known to authorities, Blodgett said.
“We are relieved to have this individual in custody, however, there is much work still to be done on this investigation,” Blodgett said in a statement. “For that reason, I am unable to discuss the details of this investigation at this time. My goal is justice for Mr. Schena through a successful prosecution. I am tremendously grateful to the investigative team for their tireless work thus far.”
However, Graham’s girlfriend said, “He’s not capable of murder,” as she left the court.
“We appreciate the public’s patience,” said Groveland Police Chief Jeff Gillen. “I understand it that such an event causes anxiety and concern, however, it is imperative that information is limited while the investigation is unfolding in order to protect the investigation. I appreciate the efforts of the investigative team in bringing this individual to justice.”
The Schena family also released a statement that said, in part: “We appreciate the hard work and diligence of the Essex County DA’s Office, the Essex State Police detective Unit, the Groveland Police Department and the Haverhill Police department. We are especially grateful for the outpouring of support from the community.”
“He’s an 82-year-old guy, you know, that lived an honest life and then this happens. You just can’t comprehend it,” said Linda Donegan, Schena’s niece.
A wake will be held for Schena on Friday evening at the Kevin B. Comeau Funeral Home in Haverhill. Funeral services will be Saturday morning at St. Patrick’s Church in Groveland.
Graham was recently released from prison, where he was serving time for drug charges.