Friday May 4, 2012

LYNN (AP) -- A Massachusetts man charged with killing his mother and grandmother, dumping their bodies behind an elementary school, then trying to flee to Canada, was ordered held without bail at his arraignment Thursday.

Joseph Wright, 23, of Lynn, faces two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of Donna Breau, 54, and Melba Trahant, 83.

The family lived in the same multifamily home in Lynn, with Wright living with his mother in one unit, and his grandmother living in the unit below.

The women's bodies were found by a custodian Tuesday morning behind an elementary school in adjacent Saugus, but it appears as if they were killed at the family home.

Prosecutors described a gruesome scene. The victims had their throats slashed "from ear to ear" and the home was "saturated with blood," Assistant District Attorney Michael Patten said. Investigators found a knife at the scene.

Prosecutors did not disclose a motive for the killings at the arraignment. Court records show Wright had had some minor run-ins with the law before.

Wright was caught by Canadian authorities as he tried to cross from Maine into New Brunswick on Tuesday evening.

He was driving his grandmother's car at the time. Investigators said they found blood on the car's windows and rear fender, and on Wright's undershorts.

Officials on the Canadian side of the border tried to question him, said Shelbe Benson-Fuller, spokeswoman for the U.S.


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Customs and Border Protection. Wright abandoned his vehicle and ran into the woods before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police caught him, she said.

Canadian authorities turned him over to Maine State Police. Wright agreed to return to Massachusetts during a brief hearing on Wednesday before a judge via video conference in Houlton, Maine, where he faced a fugitive from justice charge. He arrived back in Massachusetts in the pre-dawn hours Thursday.

A not-guilty plea to murder charges was entered on his behalf. Wright, with a shaggy, dark hair, showed no emotion in court.

Wright's court-appointed attorney did not argue for bail and said he would seek a psychiatric evaluation for his client to see if there are any mental health issues.

The lawyer also said he was considering asking a judge to suppress any statements Wright made to law enforcement before he had legal representation, including an alleged admission to Canadian authorities that he had slit his mother's and grandmother's throats.

The killings have baffled other family members. "I don't know why he did this to Mom and Mimi," his sister, Melody Woehler, told the Boston Herald. His father called the killings "evil."

Wright is due back in court May 29.