"Peabody man held in death of woman" by Kathy McCabe and John R. Ellementand Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent June 16, 2015
PEABODY — A 59-year-old Peabody man admitted that he stabbed his longtime girlfriend Monday afternoon then left her to die on the living room couch, a steak knife protruding from her chest for some 20 hours, while her 5-year-old granddaughter was still in the house, police said.
Brandon Hoar was arrested by Peabody police shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cheryl Young, 55, with whom he shared his West Peabody home.
Hoar, after being read his rights, allegedly confessed to killing Young, his girlfriend of more than 10 years, around noon Monday and leaving her body in the house, even though Young’s granddaughter was in the split-level home.
“He stated that the granddaughter had seen something horrible,’’ police wrote in a report filed in Peabody District Court Tuesday. “He stated that the weapon — a knife — was still stuck in the decedent.’’
Hoar allegedly told police he stabbed Young fearing she might harm the child.
Hoar pleaded not guilty at arraignment Tuesday in Peabody District Court. Judge Richard A. Mori ordered Hoar held without bail. He is due back in court July 16. Hoar, dressed in blue hospital scrubs, displayed no emotion as prosecutors described how police found him sitting on the front steps of the Gates Road house.
“Hoar spoke with the officers at that time and admitted to stabbing his live-in girlfriend, Cheryl Young, in the heart,” Assistant Essex District Attorney Christina Ronan said during the brief proceeding. “Officers subsequently went inside the home; they located Miss Young on the living room couch, and she was subsequently pronounced dead.’’
Officers found Young’s granddaughter in the home, and she was safely removed, Ronan said.
Rebecca Whitehill, a public defender who represented Hoar, declined to comment on her client’s motive or mental state. “He’s upset,” she said.
Hoar has been employed for 36 years as a machinist at General Electric Co.’s aircraft engine plant in Lynn, a company spokesman said.
The slaying occurred just one day before Hoar and Young were to appear in Essex Probate and Family Court at a guardianship hearing for Young’s granddaughter. The girl is the daughter of Melissa Young, who is Cheryl’s daughter, and Michael Eng Jr., both of Peabody, according to court papers.
Cheryl Young and Hoar were awarded temporary guardianship of the child Aug. 8, 2014, according to court papers.
Whitehill said she did not know whether the couple’s guardianship petition was a factor in the slaying. The child is now in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, according to the Essex district attorney’s office.
Young’s death rattled residents of the quiet neighborhood near the Lynnfield line. They described her as pleasant, often seen raking or planting flowers in her front lawn.
A child’s bike, a basketball hoop, and a playhouse were in the driveway and backyard.
Franco Lagasso, a longtime resident, said he found the scene “horrifying.” He said he knew both the lgirl and Hoar.
“I can truly say he’s a really nice guy,” Lagasso said of Hoar.
Others said there was no sign of turbulence in the home.
Frank Mangino said he was surprised by Hoar’s arrest, and especially by Young’s death.
“You can’t ever know the family dynamics in a home,’’ Mangino said. “But when you’re that close with someone and hear this? It’s just a surprise.”
Peabody police discovered the scene Tuesday morning after receiving a call from Christine DiSaia, a Danvers lawyer who was representing Young and Hoar on the guardianship petition. DiSaia told police Hoar called her and said “his girlfriend had been stabbed . . . and that she was not breathing,” according to police.
After police encountered Hoar sitting on the front steps, a cordless phone in his hand, they found Young’s granddaughter sleeping in the master bedroom, according to the police report. She was suffering from an insect-borne infectious disease and taken to the North Shore Medical Center for examination, police said.
Hoar told police that Young suffered from bipolar disorder. On Monday, he said, Young “had been screaming at their granddaughter with a crazy look in her eyes.’’
Hoar told police he feared Young was going to attack the child, so he punched Young and slashed her with a knife, but with no effect on her behavior.
“Hoar stated that he stabbed Cheryl in the chest with a steak knife,’’ police wrote. “Hoar told me that he had then stood over Cheryl and had watched her die.’’
Asked where the knife was, Hoar allegedly replied, “still in her heart.’’