Mass. family slay suspect seeks to quash evidence
WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts woman whose sister, mother, nephew and niece were allegedly killed by her brother-in-law described looking through the window of their home and seeing blood.
Deborah Stone Sochat said she went to the family's home in Winchester on June 16, 2010, after becoming concerned when her mother and sister did not return numerous phone calls she made over two days.
"I saw a light switch where there was blood," Sochat said. "There was blood smeared on the floor and on the paneling on the way up the stairs."
Sochat's testimony came Friday during a hearing in Woburn Superior Court for her brother-in-law, Thomas Mortimer IV, who is charged with murder in the deaths of his mother-in-law, Ellen Stone, his wife, Laura Stone Mortimer, and the couple's two children, Thomas "Finn" Mortimer V, 4, and Charlotte Mortimer, 2.
Sochat said a town firefighter forced a door open with an ax and she followed him inside the house. But as soon as he turned a corner, he told her to leave. "He told me that my mother had fallen," Sochat said.
She learned minutes later that all four family members had been killed.
Thomas Mortimer's lawyer, Denise Regan, is asking a judge to suppress evidence seized during a warrantless search.
Prosecutors say police entered the house without a warrant to do a well-being check after Sochat said she had been unable to reach the family for days and her mother had not shown up at her house for a scheduled dinner the night before.
During questioning Friday, police acknowledged that they entered the home three times: the first, to check on the family's well-being: the second, to remove a barking dog who was in a bedroom; and the third, to do a final sweep of the house to make sure there were no other victims or a suspect inside.
The first police officers to arrive at the house described a gruesome scene: the bloodied bodies of a woman in the living room, another woman and a little boy in the family room, and a little girl in a crib.
The children had their throats cut. All four bodies were laying in large pools of blood.
"I had to walk over two lifeless bodies that were traumatized in the neck area," Winchester police officer Claude Austin said.
"Massive trauma to a young boy ... the mother was in a pool of blood," he said.
Austin said he spoke to Sochat, who was waiting outside, and learned that Thomas Mortimer was the only other person who lived in the house. Mortimer was not there.
Sochat said police found evidence of a suicide attempt in the garage: a hose hooked up to car's exhaust. A knife lay on the passenger seat, along with a hammer.
Mortimer, who grew up in Avon, Conn., was apprehended the next day in northwestern Massachusetts.
In court documents, prosecutors have said they found a confession written by Mortimer in the house.
In the note, Mortimer allegedly said he flew into a rage after he and his wife argued over a bounced check he sent to the Internal Revenue Service.
"I did these horrible things," he allegedly wrote. "What I have done is extremely selfish and cowardly."
"I took the easy way out. ...I am ashamed, frightened, relieved, surprised that I murdered my family, disgusted with myself."
Mortimer also revealed that his 4-year-old son had witnessed the killings before being killed himself.
"I especially sorry to Finn that he had to witness these horrid acts. It was not supposed to be this way. I disgust myself," the note said.
The hearing is scheduled to resume Monday.