Residential Programs Come Under Scrutiny following Murder of Mental Health Counselor

January 27, 2011
By

Suff olk County District Attorney Daniel Conley (left) and Revere Police Chief Terence Reardon.

The brutal murder of a mental health counselor at a halfway house on Ocean Avenue in Revere last Thursday, allegedly by her mentally ill patient from Chelsea, has left questions that may never be answered.

The genesis of why that violent scenario on Revere Beach played out might not even make sense if one were to know.

The alleged killer, DeShawn James Chappell, 27, who resided at the Revere home and is a Chelsea native, has been said to be schizophrenic. He has been sent to the secure, lock-down facility at Bridgewater State Mental Hospital for an evaluation.

One clinician told the Chelsea District Court that Chappell doesn’t even know what’s going on at this point.

“It’s my opinion that Mr. Chappell doesn’t understand what’s going on around him,” Dr. Naomi Levitt told the court after meeting with the defendant. “I would recommend further evaluation … in conditions of strict security.”

Chappell once attended Chelsea High School, and virtually everyone who had contact with him in the present and past had never expected a violent outburst.

The story began to unfold around noon last Thursday when Revere Police were called to the 110 Ocean Ave. halfway house for a small fire.

While at the property, officers found a pretty grisly and bloody scene that suggested a serious crime had occurred and that some victim – who wasn’t present at that time – might have life-threatening injuries. The small fire had been deliberately set, but hadn’t spread.

An investigation quickly went into the works.

That absent victim ended up being Stephanie Moulton, 25, of Peabody, who was a mental health counselor at the Ocean Avenue property, which is owned by North Suffolk Mental Health. Not long after the investigation began, Moulton was found dead of multiple stab wounds behind a church in Lynn.

Her body had been dumped there.

That’s when police realized they had a terrible murder on their hands.

A well-publicized manhunt transpired for most of the afternoon on Thursday, with police looking in areas from Lynn to Boston. The suspect’s vehicle was found in Dorchester later in the afternoon, and he was found in the evening at his grandmother’s Dorchester home.

He has been charged with murder, but there is a likelihood that he may not be fit for a trial. He is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 10th for a hearing.

The incident hasn’t escaped city leaders in Revere, who focused in on that city’s larger-than-normal population of halfway houses operated by outfits like North Suffolk.

A similar situation also exists in Chelsea.

More than a few Revere City Councillors this week said they would like to see a quota put on the number of homes in their community, and also would like to examine the safety precautions at these homes.

“Other communities don’t have nearly as many and it’s because they go to every extent possible to prevent them coming into the community,” said Revere Councillor Arthur Guinassso. “We allowed it because they told us their clients were non-violent. Well, one got past them. They’re very smart, North Suffolk. They see a property up for sale and they’ll outbid everybody. They come in with a treasure chest of money and buy up whatever they want.

“Maybe we need a quota on these facilities,” he continued. “We have to look very closely at it in a more serious vein than we have previously.”


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