A mother has been arrested and her boyfriend is charged with murder in the
death of a little girl whose body was found inside a trash bag on an island in
Boston's harbour this summer, a prosecutor said Friday, after it took a month to
learn the child's identity.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said he authorized a murder charge
for Michael McCarthy, 35, and the girl's mother, Rachelle Bond, 40, is under
arrest for accessory to murder after the fact.
"At just shy of three years old, Bella Bond was a true innocent," Conley said
at a news conference announcing the charges.
"This child, whose very name means beauty, was murdered," he said.
The girl was known as Baby Doe as investigators launched a massive social
media campaign to find out who she was and how she died.
Couple blaming each other, politician says
Police immediately appealed to the public for help. Using photos of her
remains, the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created a
composite image of what the girl might have looked like when she was alive.
Within two weeks, the image of the chubby-cheeked, brown-eyed girl had reached
an estimated 47 million people on Facebook.
Photos of Bella posted on her mother's Facebook page made it clear that she
looked strikingly similar to the composite image.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Bond and McCarthy are blaming
each other for the girl's death.
"It appears as though it was a situation of the boyfriend who was involved
and apparently, I think mother and boyfriend [are] sort of blaming each other in
terms of who harmed the child."
Conley said McCarthy was being treated at a Boston hospital for a medical
condition unrelated to the case.
Both Bond and McCarthy are due to be arraigned on the charges Monday.
Name not new to child protection agency
Officials from the state's child protection agency said they had contact with
Bella twice, for four months in 2012 and three months in 2013. In both cases,
officials described the involvement as "support for neglect" and the cases were
Between 2001 and 2006, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
(DCF) terminated parental rights for two of her mother's older children. One of
the children was later adopted by her maternal grandmother; the other was
adopted by someone outside the family, DCF officials said.
Rhonda Mann, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Health and Human
Services, said the agency has been working with law enforcement to help police
identify the girl.
"Now that we know her name, the story is no less tragic. DCF has not had an
open case with this family for over two years, but did have brief involvement
with Baby Bella as an infant," she said in a statement.
The girl's body was found June 25 inside a trash bag on Deer Island in
Winthrop, Mass., by a woman walking a dog.
Despite the widespread publicity, a text tip line and billboards with the
girl's image, investigators were frustrated for months as they tried to learn
her identity. They got their big break after Boston police received a tip and a
search warrant was executed Thursday at Rachelle Bond's apartment.
Mother has criminal record
Conley would not say specifically how her body got to Deer Island, but
implied her mother placed her there. He said evidence investigators uncovered
led them to charge her with being an accessory after the fact to murder.
Bond had a history of drug and prostitution arrests. In 2006, she was
arrested after a car she was a passenger in was stopped for a traffic violation.
When Bond got out of the car, police noticed she was sitting on a syringe. She
was charged with possession of a hypodermic syringe.
In 2008, she was charged in a sting operation with offering to perform sexual
acts for a fee on a male police officer posing as a prostitute's client.
On Rachelle Bond's Facebook page, she appears to be a doting mother, posting
numerous photos of her daughter, whom she calls "Bell" and "monkey."
In a posting on Aug. 18, 2014, Bond wrote: "My Bella loved her birthday party
and all the awesome things she got. Broke the bank on it but it's all worth it
to see her happy and laughing and smiling. Love it."
A few weeks later, on Sept. 15, 2014, a photo shows Bella wearing a
tight-fitting, one-piece romper. "Look at my Bell," Bond wrote. "The outfit
isn't supposed to be a catsuit ... Love her to death. I am on top of the world
because of her. My life is complete again and worth living. I give her the world
and more if I can ..."
Conley said he received at least 10 offers from people who wanted to pay for
the little girl's burial, including Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
Conley would not comment on how the girl died, but said more information may
be released when McCarthy and Bond are arraigned. There were no obvious signs of
trauma to her body.
Police chased down tips from around the world, but experts determined pollen
on the girl's blanket and leggings and in her hair came from trees found in New
Conley did not comment on a possible motive.
"That's always a perplexing matter for us," he said. "Why does anyone kill a
two-year-old child? What could she have done?"