A renowned author and criminology professor said that two separate incidents of burnt bodies found within a 24-hour span are not likely mere coincidence.
James Alan Fox, a professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University, told Metro there are too many similarities in the instances to ignore the question of whether here is a connection.
“There are coincidences, but burned bodies are not the most common occurrence and the fact that they were found in such close time period is bizarre to say the least,” Fox said. “It’s early in these investigations, but they are strange and seemingly similar.”
A woman’s body was set ablaze in Bridgewater next to railroad tracks in a wooded area on Tuesday evening. The next night, a body was found in a torched car on a remote dirt road in Worcester.
"This doesn’t seem to be by chance," Fox said. "Typically, the victim is already dead. You could potentially kill someone by burning them, but you have to get close and they may try to fight back and/or thrash about."
Bridgewater: The Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office said that Bridgewater Police received a report of a suspicious vehicle near the railroad tracks on Oak and Crapo streets at about 11:40 p.m. on Tuesday. When officers arrived on scene, they said they found a burning body. The woman’s hands had been tied behind her back and her feet bound together. She was pronounced dead at the scene and has not been identified. The District Attorney said that she was likely killed elsewhere and dumped at the location where she was burned.
Worcester: Firefighters were called for a car fire at about 10:30 p.m. on Swan Avenue, a dirt road in a remote, wooded part of Worcester. After dousing the flames, which engulfed the entire car, firefighters found a body. Officials have not released any information on the person’s identity, gender, age, or the make and model of the car.
“We only have a few 100 homicides in Massachusetts to begin with. Then you take into account how many are burned? Not many,” Fox said. “What makes serial killers tough to identify is that they move the bodies to the dumpsite.
"The scene of the crime is where a lot of the story is told. Moving the body takes that away, and obviously much of the DNA evidence was destroyed in the fire. This isn’t an action movie, cars aren’t really combustible. Someone had to have set it on fire.”
Fox said if these two incidents are the work of a serial killer, it is likely that the victims did not know their attacker. The proximity, timing and method of disposal lead Fox to believe that a connection is not out of bounds.
“The locations are relatively close, easily traveled, and seemingly similar, so that possibility of connection exists. Serial offenders use similar locations that they are familiar with,” Fox said. “We can’t conclude a connection, but there are very strong similarities.”