Re: Angelo Puglisi
Angelo Puglisi vanished in August of
Last Edited: Monday, 17 Nov 2008, 11:25 PM EST
Created On: Monday, 17 Nov 2008, 4:48 PM EST
LAWRENCE, Mass., (WPRI) - Imagine trying to find a childhood sweetheart 32 years after you last played together. A Massachusetts mom and film-maker felt compelled to take up that search, but what she turned up was more than she bargained for: a mystery long buried in her past.
His name was Angelo Puglisi. "Andy" was ten years old when he vanished without a trace on a hot August day in 1976. He had just moved into a housing project in Lawrence, Massachusetts. And right across the street was the community swimming pool.
Melanie Perkins is the director of "Have You Seen Andy?" Perkins says, "It was a great place to grow up."
Perkins went to the pool with Andy that fateful day. She came home, but he never did. She says he was more than just the boy next door, even though she was only nine years old.
Pamela Watts asks, "Who was Andy to you?"
Perkins responds, "He was definitely among my first crushes."
When Andy disappeared, Melanie made two vows; never to swim in the pool again, and "I promised when I grew up I would try to find out what happened to him. I would try to find him," says Perkins.
What Perkins has now found is revisiting a chilling cold case more than three decades old. The film-maker dug up new clues in her HBO documentary, "Have You Seen Andy?"
From police she says she made one appalling discovery.
"I found there were five known pedophiles at the pool the day Andy disappeared," says Perkins.
One of them, she says, was Wayne Chapman, a man who worked as a janitor at a hospital in Rhode Island.
Perkins says, "He was from New York but he lived in Providence a long time."
Two weeks after Andy's disappearance, Chapman was stopped in New York for a routine traffic violation. In his car, police confiscated child pornography, handcuffs, rope, and a starter pistol.
And later, a Providence police detective found audio tapes Chapman had made. In his own words, his eerie narration as we watched little children:
Wayne Chapman on Audio Tape: "Another school bus just passed loaded with small children."
While Chapman was a prime suspect, there was not enough evidence to charge him with Andy's disappearance. However, Chapman did confess to raping two boys he met at the same swimming pool in Lawrence, just a year before Andy went missing.
Chapman remains in prison to this day in Shirley, Massachusetts, where he is deemed sexually dangerous. But the story does not end here. The documentary also raises questions about several unsolved crimes connected to Chapman in Rhode Island.
"Rhode Island police had several cases against him of rape of a child. He was charged with at least, I think, eight counts of sodomy," says Perkins.
Two cases were prosecuted. Chapman pleaded no contest and received a five year sentence. But it has never been served, nor was Chapman charged in any other Rhode Island cases, partly because authorities believe he will never be released from prison in Massachusetts.
Perkins feels this is unfair. She says, "Justice has not been served to the little children in Rhode Island who were abused by Wayne Chapman."
Melanie Perkins is convinced Andy's remains will be found one day near this woodland stream not far from the pool. She has requested an interview with a now-aging Chapman, so she can ask him face to face... "have you seen Andy?"
"I believe Wayne W. Chapman knows what happened to Andy," says Perkins.
And until she finds him, a memorial right outside the swimming pool in Lawrence is the only solid testimony to the haunting memory of her first, young love.
Eyewitness News has also put in a request to interview Wayne Chapman. As of yet, there has been no response.
Have You Seen Andy? Homepage: www.haveyouseenandy.com/index.html
Re: Angelo Puglisi
After 38 years, search for missing Lawrence boy renewed
LAWRENCE — Melanie Perkins remembers the silence of that August morning 38 years ago, when they called off the search for her friend.
For days after 10-year-old Andy Puglisi vanished from the public swimming pool a block from his house, the skies had been full of helicopters and the streets had swarmed with people shouting his name. But they did not find him.
“I remember standing in the projects as a 9-year-old little girl when the search ended and wondering where everybody went,” Perkins said Wednesday. “I just said, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to try to find out what happened to him.’ ”
On Wednesday, Perkins joined state and local police, a forensic anthropologist, and a crowd of student volunteers on what authorities called the most methodical canine search ever undertaken of the 35 acres of woods near the Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Higgins Swimming Pool, where Andy disappeared Aug. 21, 1976, and where his body may still lie.
Perkins — who in 2007 debuted an Emmy-winning documentary called “Have You Seen Andy?” — has spent much of her life focused on that August, which she remembers clearly. Andy was her crush that summer, she said, and on a sunny Saturday she asked him to walk her home from the pool, to the Stadium Housing Project where they both lived. But Andy wanted to stay. As it got dark, she could hear adults beginning to call for him.
The National Guard, Green Berets, and nearly 2,000 volunteers helped search for Andy; scuba divers dragged the Shawsheen River; dogs searched the nearby dump and woods.
Through the years, there have been other searches. But Andy’s body has never been found. His disappearance is still technically a missing person case, but officials say he was probably murdered.
By whom, they do not know. Several suspects have been questioned. One convicted murderer confessed to killing and raping a Lawrence boy whom he would not name, but recanted the next day. No one has ever been arrested.
“It gives you that empty feeling, you know, just standing out here; we really need closure,” said Lawrence Police Chief James X. Fitzpatrick, standing in the shade outside the pool, in the same spot where Perkins last saw Andy.
Fitzpatrick’s father, Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, was the captain in charge of detectives when Andy went missing, and he worked the case when it was still fresh. The disappearance seemed personal to his father in a way that other cases did not, the chief recalled. Perhaps, James Fitzpatrick said, it was because he and Andy were the same age.
When his father died in 1991, James Fitzpatrick said, his family found the Andy Puglisi case files in his attic.
“He didn’t bring a lot of stuff home from work, but that was one of the things he did,” the chief said. “That was the only case. It’s one of those things you never forget.”
For about three hours on Wednesday, eight canine units from across New England, with local detectives, performed a grid search in the two patches of forest that surround the pool, as well as a field near an onramp for Interstate 495.
Forensic anthropologist Ann Marie Mires — assistant professor of criminal justice at Anna Maria College, who organized Wednesday’s search — said witnesses reported seeing Andy leaving the pool and heading toward the woods with an older man and a younger boy.
“At this point, we’re trying to find Andy,” she said. “The extra bang would be if he was wrapped in plastic and somehow, some of his soft tissue was preserved, probably not possible after 38 years, we might find DNA of the perpetrator.”
Searchers did not find any remains on Wednesday, and officials said there are no plans to come back or to excavate. Mires said searchers had found “some areas of interest,” but declined to elaborate, citing concern someone could use the information to remove evidence.
“Somebody knows a lot more than they’ve shared in 38 years,” Mires said.