This is not to say that other murders aren't sad and terrible and heartbreaking, but as a forewarning if you didn't read the title, the child who was killed in this case was only 2 years old. Continue reading at your heart's own risk.
On June 25, 2015, the body of a 2-year-old child washed up on shore of Deer Island in Boston, Massachusetts. The baby was known as the Deer Island Jane Doe, or "Baby Doe", as she went unidentified for months.
Authorities pursued various leads to try to find out who the child was, which finally paid off. On September 18, 2015, 5 years ago today, the baby girl was identified from one of the many tips generated. The child was identified as 2-year-old Bella Bond.
Bella's mother, Rachelle Bond, and her boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, were arrested. Though the autopsy didn't reveal an exact cause of death, it was ruled a homicide. McCarthy was charged with murder in the second degree and was sentenced to life in prison. Bella's mom was charged with being an "accessory after the fact" and plead guilty.
DISCOVERY, EXAMINATION, AND INVESTIGATION
A woman walking her dog found the body inside of a plastic bag while walking her dog on June 25, 2015. I feel terrible for that woman for finding such a horrific, grisly sight. Flowers were placed at the scene the child's body was found at. She was wearing a pair of white leggings with black polka dots on them. A zebra print blanket was also in the bag.
Authorities believed she had died within a few days of her body being found, though later developments have suggested her body was "hidden in a fridge" for up to 1 month before she was deposited into the water. She had begun to decompose and became bloated. It was impossible to identify her visually, or collect fingerprints. Investigators could tell she was a young girl, but couldn't even tell her race or ethnicity.
Authorities didn't know if her body was placed at the beach, or if she was thrown into the water in the bag which eventually washed up on Deer Island. The U.S. Coast Guard helped in the investigation to try and determine where the body may have come from, and they believed that she was probably placed at the scene.
An autopsy was conducted on July 3, but her cause of death couldn't be determined. Obviously, given the fact that a baby was found in a bag in the water, foul play was suspected, but no obvious signs of injuries were found on the decomposed remains. Examiners weren't able to find any trace of toxins such as household cleaners, drugs, or alcohol in her body. All forms of "natural death" were excluded, but no official cause of death could be found.
The body was believed to belong to a young girl between the ages of 3-5 who appeared to be white, but with possible Hispanic ancestry. Her hair was brown, but untrimmed for years. They believed she was about 3 feet tall, weighing around 30 pounds, with no distinct birthmarks. Authorities believed that she was "well-cared for" during her life, with no obvious signs of abuse or neglect.
The child's face was digitally reconstructed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as she continued to remain unidentified. The reconstruction was done in Photoshop which confused some, because they believed it to be an actual image. (After she was identified, people who knew her said the image looked nothing like her.)
On July 4, 2015, she was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. In total, over 200 missing people were ruled out for being the child belonging to the body. The public was asked for assistance, specifically trying to appeal to people who may know her parents. Hundreds of tips were called in and investigated, but to no avail.
The story was widely publicized, and a large amount of interest was garnered internationally. People offered to pay for the child's funeral if she was never identified, and a funeral home said they would donate a headstone so she could be given an appropriate resting place. Local businesses posted information in their buildings. On July 10, Anderson Cooper interviewed John Walsh (father of Adam Walsh, America's Most Wanted host and the co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) who said that "absolutely someone knows" the identity of Jane Doe. He said that, in similar cases, "live-in boyfriends" or the mother had abused or neglected children, who accidentally died. He said she remained unidentified because people didn't want to talk to cops, but encouraged people to submit tips anonymously to the show.
Many tips came through after the show aired, including a woman who had thrown a garbage bag into the water, or people who had seen toddlers resembling the child. A 24-hour hotline was set up, as well as a text hotline. 84 billboards were placed across the state, hoping to identify the baby girl in the water.
IDENTIFICATION OF BELLA BOND, AND TRIALS
Finally, a tip that lead to the identification of the child was received. The sister of the neighbor of one Rachelle Bond contacted police when she realized that their 2-year-old wasn't around much, but Rachelle and her boyfriend, Michael McCarthy said she had been taken away by the state. The neighbor told his sister that he thought that their child could be "Baby Doe", and she contacted the police.
Another witness told authorities that she grew concerned when the child wasn't around anymore, and when her toys were thrown out.
The baby girl was identified as Bella Neveah Amoroso Bond on September 18, 2015, 5 years ago today. The day before, a search warrant was executed for the home of 40-year-old Rachelle in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Bella's biological father, Joe Amoroso, claimed he had never met his daughter, but had spoken with her over the phone. He said he had learned of Bella's death about 1 week before she was identified, with Rachelle told him during a visit, though he believes Rachelle would have never hurt her child. However, Joe's mother, Bella's paternal grandmother, believed Rachelle was heavily involved in the death. Bella was buried on November 28, 2015, with her date of death being the day she was discovered.
Rachelle Bond was known as a recreational drug user, and had 2 other children whom she had previously lost custody of. She had a criminal record, including prostitution, and police said that had responded to 4 previous complaints that she was neglecting her daughter. Additionally, the Department of Children and Families had responded to 2 neglect complaints, which were both closed. After the identification, the family was interviewed. An aunt said she never suspected that "Baby Doe" was Bella, and Rachelle's mother didn't even know Bella existed.
Police believed that Bella had been murdered by Rachelle's boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, and he was charged with her death. Rachelle was charged with being an accessory to the crime for helping to cover up the death, and for larceny after it was determined she continued to receive welfare after her daughter died.
Since the exact cause of Bella's death is still unknown, authorities knew that it might be tough to convict on homicide charges. Rachelle alleged that McCarthy had punched Bella multiple times in the stomach, claiming she was a "demon". She said he was the only perpetrator in her daughter's murder and that she was not involved. Prosecutors believe that she was murdered during one of many abusive occasions when Bella was uncooperative about going to bed. It was said that McCarthy said he would "calm the child down" and so Rachelle let her terrible boyfriend in her 2-year-old's room alone, and when she entered later, she was dead.
Rachelle claims that her boyfriend threatened to kill her, too, if she contacted the police, and her lawyer claimed she was not involved in hiding the baby's body... which was put in a garbage bag and hidden in their refrigerator. Based on Rachelle's statement, the authorities were wrong that her body was placed where it was found: She stated McCarthy disposed of the body in the water, and it drifted to Deer Island.
But of course, McCarthy's story contradicted Rachelle's. He said she was responsible for her daughter's death, and that he didn't even have any knowledge that she died. He claimed he moved out before Bella died, leaving after witnessing his girlfriend's physical and emotional abuse of her 2-year-old. His attorney argued that Rachelle's history of drug abuse made her more likely to have killed her daughter. Additionally, they called into question her claim that Bella was beaten to death, as there were no consistent injuries with that story.
During McCarthy's 2017 trial, a "lifelong friend" of his took the stand, claiming he warned Rachelle of the potential danger she was putting herself in by entering a relationship with McCarthy, explaining he had a "dark side" including a questionable interest in demons and satanic rituals. His defense provided texts and journal entries Rachelle made after Bella was killed that still showed affection for him, suggesting his innocence. However, Rachelle claimed she was filled with fear, and allegedly "tranquilized" with heroin after Bella's murder.
Ultimately, McCarthy was found guilty of second degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison on June 28, 2017. He will be eligible for parole in 2037.
Rachelle was given 2 years of probation on July 12, 2017. Her extremely lesser sentence was a part of a plea deal and a testimony against McCarthy. The terms of probation required no use of alcohol or drugs, a requirement to get mental health treatment, and regular drug testing. She was not allowed to reside with anyone using illegal drugs. However, in August of 2018, she had already tested positive for drugs twice during her drug tests. It is not clear if her punishment has been adjusted due to these.
This story sucks. It sucks that Bella was born into such a horrific life - a drug addicted mother who had already lost custody of her siblings and a demon worshipping boyfriend. It sucks that the police and family services had responded to concerns about Bella a total of 6 times and nothing happened. It sucks that her body was thrown away like trash, and for months, while police and the world tried to figure out what happened, the child's mother refused to come forward, staying in a relationship with the man who allegedly killer her daughter. And it sucks that her mother's punishment was 2 years of probation that she already failed. Whether or not her mom actually killed her (of that I'm not convinced), a mother, who is supposed to love her child with every fiber of her being, allowing her daughter's body to be stored in the refrigerator and continuing a relationship with the man who murdered her is horrific.
What also sucks is this isn't isolated. The specifics may be, sure. But kids being abused and neglected and not dealt with at the state level, only to be murdered later is not uncommon. It is so sad to think about all of the children who have been dealt such a terrible hand at birth, being born to parents who care more about drugs than them. (Side note: this is also why I'm pro-choice and pro-accessible/affordable abortion. It is not pro-life to force a woman who is addicted to drugs to have a child she cannot support. It just isn't.)
Bella Bond only got to live for 2 years, and it breaks my heart to think about the fact that those 2 years were likely filled with abuse and trauma. I was raised Catholic and I do believe in Heaven, but cases like these make me hope that Heaven exists, more than just believing it does. To get 2 years on Earth and for those years to be filled with nothing but bad things is so terrible... I hope there is an eternal light at the end of the tunnel for Bella Bond, and all children who live and die like she did.
Rest in peace, Bella.