Monday’s funeral for Everett’s Jessica Cormier from the Smith Funeral Home, was quiet and dignified and it was extremely well attended. The court proceeding two hours after she was buried, where her assailant Clarence Earl Berry, 59, of Chelsea, was arraigned for stabbing her to death, was mobbed with friends, relatives and many grieving members of Cormier’s distraught family.
Cormier’s murder is a riddle to be solved.
Police investigating the case claim Berry and Cormier knew one another. However the full extent of the relationship is unknown, according to the police. Cell phone records have apparently revealed that they shared a number of calls before Berry attacked her.
What police have yet to explain is a motive for the assailant, who has been charged with murder being held without bail and will next return to court on Feb. 9.
What is known is this: a young woman gainfully employed only 20 years -old was near to her Pearl Street home in Everett shortly before 6:45 p.m. January 3 when she was confronted by Berry.
Berry stabbed her twice. According to prosecutors, she was stabbed once in the heart and once in the chest. She apparently made it to the front porch of her home where she slumped against the door.
Her mother had heard her screaming. She came downstairs and found her bleeding profusely on the front porch.
Police and ambulances arrived within minutes upon her call.
She was rushed to the Massachusetts General Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 7:30 p.m.
Berry was apparently living in Chelsea in a room in the local YMCA building – which offers week to week rentals in rooms on its top floor. He was said to be homeless before gaining a room at the Y, which carefully monitors its roomers.
He was in the last part of a special program called the Cardinal Medeiros program which helps to return the disadvantaged to a better life, according to a source.
His only source of income was SSI, according to the source.
That same source close to the investigation said Berry had lived at the Y for 2 months and was not originally from Chelsea.
The source described him as polite and well- mannered at all times.
“He seemed like a real gentleman,” said the source who described him as about 5’7” with grayish black hair.
The source claimed Berry knew Cormier for a few months and that he had even met her parents. Several people living at the Y were said to have driven Berry to Cormier’s Pearl Street residence in Everett and dropped him off there several times over the past few months, according to the source.
“There was some talk that Berry was charged with murder in 1989,” said the source. Everett Police Department officials refused to confirm or deny that bit of information.
However in Malden District Court Monday, prosecutors said Berry had at least one prior drug arrest.
Following Cormier’s murder, State Police and the Everett Criminal Investigation Unit sprang into action.
The ECIU sought and received a search warrant and the apparent OK for surveillance of the Chelsea Y after determining Berry was a suspect in the murder of Cormier.
What followed was a determined investigation into Berry’s whereabouts, checks of Cormier’s cell-phone records and finally, earlier this week, a search warrant that was executed for the Berry’s room at the Chelsea Y.
According to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone, evidence was collected at the sight that was consistent with the investigation into allegations that Berry had murdered Cormier.
Based on that information and extensive interviewing by ECIU detectives and State Police, Berry was put under surveillance.
Monday morning, State and Everett police detective converged on the Y and apprehended Berry at the rear stairs of the building as he was readying to leave.
They brought him into one of the downstairs meeting rooms, questioned him at length and then Everett police handcuffed him, read him his rights and took him away, said the source.
Everett Police Chief Steven Mazzie had great praise for his ECUI team.
“They did a great job taking a dangerous man off the streets. I have great pride in the team, which is headed by Captain Robert Bontempo.
Members of the team hunting Berry down and arresting him are: Sgt. Paul Hamilton, Detective Scott Stalvaum, Detective Ed Cuthbert, Detective Colleen Stabile, and Detective Allen Peluso.