News, Police/Fire

Husband denies killing wife as brutal details emerge

Andrew MacCormack is accused of killing Vanessa MacCormack in their North Revere home.

Andrew MacCormack, during his September arraignment for murder. (Owen O'Rourke/file photo)

CHELSEA — Andrew MacCormack cried in court on Wednesday as prosecutors accused him of brutally killing his wife. The Assistant District Attorney painted a picture of a troubled marriage leading up to the homicide.

MacCormack, 29, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Vanessa MacCormack, 30, and was held without bail during his arraignment at Chelsea District Court.

He was arrested on Tuesday afternoon amid the ongoing investigation into Vanessa’s homicide at their Revere home. The couple had been married for two years and had a 1-year-old daughter, who is in the custody of other family members.

Vanessa, a second-grade teacher at Connery Elementary School in Lynn, was found dead on Saturday shortly after 3:30 p.m.

Defense attorney John Hayes said that his client has been crying since he was arrested and has adamantly denied killing his wife. He said the evidence is all circumstantial at this point.

“I’m telling you that I don’t believe that this defendant, my client, committed this offense,” Hayes said. “Maybe the police should be spending a little more time making sure they have the right guy before they just jump on him. It’s very easy to say the husband did it.”

Members from both sides of the family attended the arraignment, but declined to speak to the press.


A grisly scene

Revere Police and other emergency medical personnel responded to 93 Grand View Ave. after receiving a 911 call placed by Andrew, and found Vanessa unresponsive with obvious signs of physical trauma, prosecutors said.

Police responded to the scene and found Andrew visibly distraught. Police were notified by other emergency personnel that it was a possible suicide, but after viewing Vanessa’s body, the degree of violent trauma to her head made suicide an unrealistic possibility, according to an affidavit prepared by State Police Trooper Anthony A. Alestock.

Alestock wrote that Revere Police Officer Joseph Duca said he could smell a strong odor of bleach as he entered the house, which prosecutors believe was used to mask  the crime scene. Areas of the house appeared to be freshly cleaned.

Duca found Vanessa in the bedroom near the threshold covered in blood. Her injuries were too severe for treatment and she was pronounced dead at the scene, Alestock wrote. Prosecutors said there were no signs of forced entry into the home.

Vanessa’s face showed signs of blunt force trauma, and some of her teeth appeared to have been knocked out. Duca said he could see blood on the floor and walls of the bedroom and a white trash bag covered with blood on the floor in the hallway. The bag appeared to be partly full of trash. Andrew told police the bag was over Vanessa’s head and he had removed it when he found her body, Alestock wrote.

Preliminary findings of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s autopsy revealed Vanessa’s injuries included chemical burns to the back, asphyxiation by strangulation, stab and slash wounds to the neck, and trauma to the head, face, and chin. The doctor said the chemical burns could have been caused by bleach, suggesting that whoever killed Vanessa also poured bleach on her in an attempt to clean up the crime scene, Alestock wrote.

A knife was discovered missing from a set in a butcher block in the kitchen and a search of the house failed to turn it up, authorities said.


Problems in the marriage

Prosecutors said text messages sent in the weeks leading up to the killing revealed problems in the marriage, with Vanessa writing that she was unhappy that her husband was messing up their finances. She allegedly texted her husband on Sept. 15 that if he wanted to stay with her, he would need to go to marriage counseling, step it up financially and communicate with her family, according to the affidavit.

In one text from Aug. 31, Vanessa told Andrew that she hated him for ruining their daughter’s life because she wouldn’t have her parents together — she was preparing to talk to a real estate agent the next day about listing their house and was looking into divorce lawyers. MacCormack texted her back calling her crazy, and that he wasn’t signing anything to sell the house or get divorced, according to the affidavit.

Two engagement rings of Vanessa’s went missing. MacCormack said he collected on a $13,000 insurance claim for one of the rings. Investigators later learned that he had pawned two rings in Lynn for $100 and $90. Vanessa had told her mother that money had turned up missing and MacCormack’s bank accounts had been compromised, according to the affidavit.


Differing accounts of the day

MacCormack told police that when he last saw his wife, she was drinking a cup of coffee and wearing workout clothes. He said he had agreed to take their 1-year-old daughter to the beach in East Boston so Vanessa could go to the gym. While in East Boston, he withdrew $100 from an ATM.

A witness told police that he needed some plastering work done and that MacCormack came to his Saugus home around 1:30 p.m. with his daughter. MacCormack said he went there after the East Boston trip, and the witness watched the baby while he worked. The witness said he had sent numerous Snapchats of the baby to Vanessa, which went unopened, Alestock wrote. He said MacCormack left the worksite to change his daughter’s diaper.

Investigators found several discrepancies in his story, Alestock wrote.

Vanessa’s mother told police MacCormack said Vanessa wasn’t at home when he left with the baby. Surveillance footage showed that he collected the money at the ATM after doing work in the Saugus home.

A drug dealer known to police told officers he had sold $100 of cocaine to MacCormack that afternoon. The dealer further told police that MacCormack typically buys about $400 to $500 worth of the drug from him each week, Alestock wrote.

MacCormack said that he went back home after speaking with his mother-in-law on the phone and found his wife dead in the house, Alestock wrote. Rather than administer CPR, he said he removed the trash bag from his wife’s head and ran out of the house with his daughter to call 911.

Investigators believe that MacCormack had his wife’s phone on him while he was texting her phone to check in on Vanessa, and that he used the texts and calls to cover up his role in the murder. During this time, Vanessa’s family members were trying to reach her to see if she was OK, and MacCormack was monitoring the calls, Alestock wrote.


Previous allegations of abuse

MacCormack had a domestic violence case against him from a prior relationship that was later dismissed. In that case, prosecutors said he dragged a former girlfriend by her hair down two flights of stairs in 2011. Police found a clump of hair on the bedroom floor next to Vanessa’s body, Alestock wrote.

Hayes said there is no evidence of any prior domestic violence in his client’s relationship with Vanessa.

MacCormack returns to court for a probable cause hearing on Oct. 27.

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