Gaynor admits to another murder.


Alfred J. Gaynor now stands convicted of killing eight women in the 1990s, making him one of the most notorious serial killers in Massachusetts history, a prosecutor says.

Gaynor pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Hampden Superior Court to charges for the April 1995 slaying of 34-year-old Vera Hallums. His guilty plea comes a month after Gaynor, convicted by a jury in 2000 of killing four Springfield women, admitted he also killed three others.

Judge Peter A. Velis sentenced the now-45-year-old Gaynor to a life sentence in the case of Hallums, a woman at whose apartment he had sought a place to sleep before strangling her to death and leaving her body undiscovered for days.

Assistant district attorney Carmen W. Picknally told the court it was most important for the prosecution and for Gaynor’s victims’ families that Gaynor die in prison and never see the light of day again. First-degree murder convictions carry a mandatory life sentence to state prison with no possibility of parole; following his jury conviction in 2000, four consecutive life sentences were imposed for Gaynor.

Picknally said he believes Gaynor is now convicted of the most deaths of any serial killer in Bay State history. While there are organized crime figures who have admitted to a number of killings, those slayings are considered to be in a different class than serial killing, the prosecutor said.

“It’s a sad occasion for the family to have to relive the torment of 15 years ago,” Picknally said of Hallums’ family.

The victim’s daughter, Oletha Wells, 40, gave a victim-impact statement in the courtroom and spoke to reporters after the plea hearing.

“Well we’re still depressed about it, and (this) has not given us any relief whatsoever. If anything it made things worse. We’re not happy about this whole situation and we really don’t have any understanding of why he did it,” she said.

“I mean my mother, she was a good woman, did the best she could to raise us and for somebody to take her life like an animal it’s just not good at all,” Wells said.

This guilty plea and the others from last month for the 1997 rapes and murders of Jill Ann Ermellini, Yvette Torres and Robin Atkins will gain him no more time in prison. Concurrent life terms were imposed by the judge on the latest cases to be resolved.

In describing the circumstances of Hallums’ death, Picknally told the judge police were called to the woman’s Leland Drive apartment on April 20, 1995, and found she had been dead for several days. Her hands were bound behind her back, and she had multiple skull fractures, according to the prosecutor.

In a confession to investigators last month, Gaynor told authorities that he had walked to Hallums’ home and asked to sleep on her living-room floor, Picknally said Gaynor entered her room, tried to wake her and then struck her several times over the head with a kitchen pot to make her unconscious so he could rape her, according to the prosecutor.

Gaynor cut cords from appliances to tie her hands, he told authorities, and secured it around her neck in a way that would increase pressure on her neck as her hands moved, Picknally said. While Gaynor said he had planned to sexually assault Hallums, the woman died of strangulation before a sexual attack occurred. He then stole a ring and left, Picknally said..

Gaynor, represented by lawyer Peter L. Ettenberg, has yet to indicted on charges for the 1996 deaths of Amy Smith and her 22-month-old daughter, Destiny. He has, however, also confessed to those crimes, according to District Attorney William M. Bennett. Picknally had no comment on the status of additional indictments.

Smith, beaten and choked, died of asphyxiation in her Dwight Street Extension apartment in June 1996, and her daughter was left to die of starvation and dehydration before anyone discovered her mother’s body.

It was the prosecution of Gaynor’s nephew, Paul L. Fickling, which precipitated the plea negotiations that resulted in Gaynor’s new admissions. Gaynor in 2008 provided a jailhouse confession to the Smith deaths which led to the granting of a new trial for Fickling. Fickling in October, on the eve of his new trial, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter in the deaths of Smith and her daughter.

Fickling had been convicted by a jury in 1998 of first-degree murder in the deaths of the mother and child, but sought a new trial on the basis of Gaynor’s confession that he had acted alone.

In the Smith case, Gaynor has said he bound the woman’s hands, shoved a sock in her mouth and left her body in a closet, according to the district attorney.

Fickling, who, like his uncle, had been serving a life sentence, was sentenced to a 19- to 20-year state prison term, of which he has already served 14.

Gaynor was convicted at trial in 2000 for the murders of JoAnn C. Thomas, Loretta Daniels, Rosemary A. Downs and Joyce L. Dickerson-Peay.

Did Gaynor really kill Smith or is he covering for his nephew?

NORTHAMPTON – A judge ordered Tuesday that Paul L. Fickling be transferred from state prison to the Hampden County House of Correction while the court determines whether he will receive a new trial.

Fickling, 31, is serving a life sentence at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley for killing 20-year-old Amy L. Smith and her 22-month-old daughter, Destiny, in 1996.

Fickling’s uncle, Alfred L. Gaynor, recently claimed to have committed those murders. Gaynor, 41, is already serving consecutive life sentences for the rapes and murders of four other women.

Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett, Assistant District Attorney Marcia B. Julian and defense lawyer Greg T. Schubert went into chambers in Hampshire Superior Court with Judge Mary-Lou Rup for about half an hour Tuesday.

When they emerged, Rup announced that Fickling would be transferred by mutual agreement. She continued the matter to Dec. 17, at which time the court might question Fickling to see if he will waive a possible conflict of interest with an expert witness for the defense. Rup did not identify the witness and the lawyers all declined to comment further outside the courtroom.

The deaths of Smith and her daughter shocked the city of Springfield. Her nude body was found in a closet, her hands bound and an undergarment stuffed in her mouth. By the time Smith’s body was discovered in her Dwight Street Extension apartment, her daughter had died of starvation and dehydration. Fickling was Smith’s former boyfriend.

Bennett has expressed skepticism, about Gaynor’s confession, which was dated Sept. 26, but has pledged to review the evidence. Gaynor was convicted in 2000 for killing JoAnn C. Thomas, Loretta Daniels, Rosemary A. Downs and Joyce L. Dickerson-Peay between Nov. 1, 1997 and early 1998.

Video and more here.

  1. December 12th, 2010
    Trackback from : World Spinner

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