Carla Souza was a dutiful member of the Mormon church, hosting dinner meetings at her house, taking care of children in the nursery school and going out with missionaries to spread the word about her faith.
But the Brazilian immigrant's devotion, prosecutors said, didn't sit well with her husband.
On May 21, 2006, a bloodied Jeremias Bins walked into the Framingham, Mass., police station and said he had just bludgeoned his wife and stepson with a hammer, authorities said.
Bins, also a Brazil native, allegedly said he was angry over the amount of time his wife spent with members of the church. Souza and her 11-year-old son, Caique, had been found an hour earlier by police who responded to her emergency call.
"Can you come to my house please? I have a problem with my husband," Souza said, according to court documents filed by prosecutors. Police arrived one minute later and found Souza, 37, and her son lying in blood on a bedroom floor.
Defense strategy not clear
Bins, 33, goes on trial on murder charges later this week in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn. Opening statements are scheduled for Friday.
Bins' attorney, Earl Howard, has not revealed how he intends to defend Bins. A judge denied an earlier request from the defense to suppress Bins' statements to police. Howard did not return calls seeking comment.
Prosecutors said Bins confessed to the killings after taking a cab to the police station with the couple's 5-month-old son, Phillipe. He handed the baby to officers and said, "I'm sorry," according to police.
Bins also allegedly told police he was angry because his wife was trying to convince him to be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
About two hours before the killings, Bins called members of the Framingham ward of the church and told them he did not want "you missionaries" at his home any more, according to a police report.
Some members of the congregation told police they knew that Bins did not support his wife's involvement, but said they were stunned by the killings. The couple had met through the church when Bins started taking English classes there. Souza helped teach the classes. Bins occasionally attended church services with his wife, the baby and Caique, her son by a previous marriage, but he did not become a member.
"I had heard he didn't understand why she would look to do things for the church at times, but no one knew it was to the degree of what happened," said Terry Holmes, the former bishop of the Framingham congregation.
"He seemed like a decent, decent fellow," said Holmes, who married the couple in 2005.
Well-liked by church members
Souza, a housekeeper who had been a member of the church for about five years, was well-liked by members of the Framingham ward and by the members of a smaller, Portuguese-speaking branch she joined in the months before her death.
Bins told police Caique never really accepted his marriage to his mother, and that he and the boy would fight because of that tension. The couple also had financial problems, according to church members.
Bins could not speak much English and had trouble getting regular carpentry jobs, Holmes said.
"I remember him asking me one time if I knew of any work that needed to be done or if any members of the church had any work for him," Holmes said.
Bins allegedly told police he and his wife had been fighting when she picked up the phone to call police. He said he went to the closet where he kept his carpentry tools, picked up a hammer and hit his wife on the head while she was on the phone. When Caique walked into the room, he struck the boy with the hammer, he allegedly told police.
Police found a bloody framing hammer in the bedroom where the bodies were found. Bins had blood on both sides of his hands, shorts and legs when he went to the police station, prosecutors said in court documents.
Maurice Hiers, president of the Boston division of the church, said he had been unaware that Bins resented his wife's involvement in the church.
"There are still feelings about that, sad feelings, feelings of what didn't we see, what could we have done, how could we have helped her?" he said.