May 22, 2017
PHOTOS BY KEN YUSZKUS
Michael Hebb, left, and Wes Doughty are arraigned separately in Salem Superior Court.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
SALEM — It’s been more than three months since the double murder of an engaged couple at a Farm Avenue home in Peabody in February, but more gruesome details emerged during arraignments for the accused killer and his alleged accomplice on Monday.
Wes Doughty, 39, and Michael Hebb, 45, were arraigned separately in Salem Superior Court in connection with the murders of Mark Greenlaw, 37, and his fiancee, Jennifer O’Connor, 40, at 19 Farm Ave.
Doughty was arraigned on two counts of murder and one count each of rape, attempted arson, carjacking, kidnapping, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Doughty is accused of raping O’Connor, trying to set the house on fire, and accused of the armed carjacking of a 64-year-old grandfather, Kenneth Metz, in Middleton days later while on the run. He was captured in South Carolina, a week later.
Hebb, was arraigned on two counts of accessory after the fact and one count of attempted arson. Murder charges he was arraigned on Feb. 21 in Peabody District Court were dismissed after an Essex County grand jury handed up indictments earlier this month for both men.
Both men pleaded not guilty to their respective charges.
New details emerged during Hebb’s appearance.
Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall said Hebb was living at the house with his nominal uncle, David Moise Sr., who is physically disabled, his girlfriend and a number of other people.
MacDougall said the home, which has since been condemned, operated a crack cocaine dealing business, and Hebb was one of the principals involved in the drug’s distribution.
In the days leading up to the homicides, MacDougall said it appeared that Greenlaw had asked if he and O’Connor could come stay at the home. She said Greenlaw’s sister was being asked to leave the home or was leaving of her own volition. She said there was some suggestion that Greenlaw was moving into Hebb’s role in the crack cocaine business in that same time period.
Hebb and Doughty allegedly had multiple conversations about Greenlaw’s incursions into the home, and that Hebb had made unsubstantiated allegations that Greenlaw was abusing Moise in some way, MacDougall said. She said Moise was the main head of the house, and used to be the owner, but had sold it to a neighbor and was leasing it long-term.
MacDougall said the evidence shows that Hebb told Doughty Greenlaw and perhaps his sister had been abusing, possibly poisoning, possibly drugging Moise. She said there is no real evidence of any of that. She said the Commonwealth would allege that he was playing on Doughty’s deep loyalty and devotion for Moise, essentially revving him up.
Even based on his own statement, Hebb at a minimum acquiesced to Doughty’s plan to murder Greenlaw, MacDougall said. After his arrest, Hebb had given a lengthy recorded statement to authorities about his involvement in the murders, according to his defense attorney, Ray Buso.
Shortly after Greenlaw’s and O’Connor arrival at the house, sometime likely late Friday, Feb. 17, Doughty shot Greenlaw once in the face with a shotgun, MacDougall said. She said Hebb appeared to have been upstairs in the home at the time, but almost immediately came downstairs, and at that point, at a minimum, witnessed Doughty repeatedly stab, slit the throat and rape O’Connor.
Hebb then went upstairs and reported to a witness “that Doughty was an idiot” because he was leaving his DNA in O’Connor, MacDougall said.
MacDougall said it was by Hebb’s own admission that he then participated in cleaning up the house, as there was a great deal of blood in numerous areas, and ultimately wrapping up the two bodies.
She said the bodies were in bags and wrapped in cellophane. In addition, she said a carpet was taken out from the floor that was nailed down and split in two so that each of them could be wrapped in the carpet and further in cellophane.
MacDougall said the bodies were taken down to the basement, along with the mattress O’Connor was killed on, and were stacked there with a number of items, including several firearms and knives.
She said cans of kerosene and a propane torch were found in the vicinity of the bodies. MacDougall said it is the Commonwealth’s belief, based in part on statements by Hebb, that the men’s ultimate intention was to burn the bodies.
MacDougall said Hebb’s girlfriend was also in the home, and ultimately became concerned for her safety based on statements made to her, and she believed she may have been next to be killed. She fled the night of Feb. 18, and dove into the car window of a Good Samaritan who drove her to the Danvers State Police barracks, MacDougall said.
On the way, Hebb’s girlfriend made calls to Greenlaw’s family members, who started showing up at the Peabody Police Department. A marked police cruiser was sent to 19 Farm Ave., which MacDougall said the two defendants became aware of, causing them to not complete their efforts to burn the bodies and run out the side door through a swamp area.
MacDougall said Hebb contacted a friend to pick them up, telling him their car had broken down on the side of the 95 on ramp in Peabody, where authorities believe Doughty stashed the murder weapons, which were ultimately recovered there. She said Hebb claimed in his statement that he did everything under duress to try to protect himself, his girlfriend and Moise, because he claims that essentially Doughty had a gun to him.
Buso said the vast majority of the Commonwealth’s statement was the subject of Hebb’s recorded statement. He said Hebb was unaware the first murder was going to take place, and did not observe it.
“In this recorded statement, he describes what the government now calls duress,” Buso said. “His belief was that if he did not cooperate with the other defendant, his uncle, for lack of a better word, and the girlfriend, were going to be killed … His version of the events indicated that he did what he needed to do to keep those two people from being killed also.”
Hebb was eventually taken into custody at his former girlfriend’s apartment in Peabody, after Doughty left, MacDougall said.
Doughty and Hebb will continue to be held without bail and return to court July 11 for a pretrial conference. Doughty’s attorney, John Apruzzese, did not argue for bail. Buso requested $10,000 cash bail for Hebb. MacDougall requested $150,000 bail.
Buso argued that before the murders, Hebb had a short record, with mostly motor vehicle violations. He said that Hebb could stay with his mother, who lives in Peabody.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Drechsler said he was inclined to set bail at $60,000 with conditions.
Should his family intend to post that $60,000 bail, Hebb would need to have a hearing before a judge, with his mother or whomever he would be staying with, to ensure they could properly oversee him during his release. He would be on GPS monitoring and under house arrest. For now, he’s being held until his next date, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney’s office.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.