An "incredible turn of events" has led to the arrest of three men in connection with the killing of a 15-year-old Massachusetts boy more than 41 years ago, authorities said Friday.
The body of John Joseph McCabe of Tewksbury was found in a vacant lot in Lowell in September 1969, police said. He had been bound with rope, his eyes and mouth taped shut.
McCabe was kidnapped after leaving a dance, assaulted by three older teens and left in the lot to die of asphyxiation as he struggled to free himself, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said.
Authorities on Thursday arrested Walter Shelley, 60, of Tewksbury; Edward Allan Brown, 59, of Londonderry, New Hampshire; and Michael Ferreira, 57, of Salem, New Hampshire.
All three knew McCabe, Leone said.
Shelley is charged with murder and Brown is charged with manslaughter. Ferreira faces a murder charge in juvenile court because he was a juvenile at the time of the slaying; he also faces a perjury charge in adult court for allegedly lying to investigators.
Leone would not say exactly what led to the suspects but described it as an "incredible turn of events."
A prosecutor in Lowell District Court said at Shelley's arraignment Friday that the killing was sparked by jealousy over a girl.
Shelley, prosecutors said, recruited his two friends to warn McCabe to stop talking to his girlfriend.
The three suspects, all teens at the time, then made a pact to never talk about it.
Shelley was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail after pleading not guilty.
There was no answer at a phone number listed under Shelley's name. His lawyer did not immediately return a message left at his office seeking comment.
Brown was released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty. Ferreira first faces a fugitive from justice warrant in New Hampshire before appearing in a Massachusetts court.
It was not immediately clear who either's lawyers were.
"The investigators on this case, as well as the victim's family, never gave up hope that those responsible for the murder of John McCabe would be held accountable for his death, and today marks the remarkable beginning of that accountability and day of reckoning for all involved in John's death," Leone said.
McCabe's family, particularly his father, William, never gave up on finding his killers, Lowell police Superintendent Ken Lavallee said.
"Their determination to see this matter resolved motivated all of us in law enforcement to keep this matter on the front burner," he said.
McCabe's parents and two sisters attended a news conference Friday. His parents did not speak, but the sisters thanked law enforcement.