BOSTON (AP) — In her short, tumultuous life, Bella Bond loved cats, dancing to country music and the color green.
Those were but brief flashes of happiness in a life marked by neglect, abuse and a horrible ending, according to descriptions given by a prosecutor in court Monday as 2-year-old Bella’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend were arraigned on charges in connection with her death.
Michael McCarthy is charged with killing Bella, who was known for nearly three months as Baby Doe as investigators worked to learn her identity. Her mother, Rachelle Bond, is charged with being an accessory after her killing. Both are charged with unlawful disposal of human remains.
Prosecutor David Deakin described a chaotic home life in which Bond and McCarthy often yelled at Bella and demeaned her, according to a man who lived with the couple this year. Michael Sprinsky told police he twice saw Bond and McCarthy lock Bella in a closet for 30 minutes to an hour “while she screamed to be let out,” Deakin said.
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Both told Sprinsky they believed Bella was possessed by demons. Sprinsky said he moved out because he was appalled by how they treated Bella.
Investigators launched a massive search for information about the girl after a woman walking her dog in June found her body inside a bag on Deer Island. A composite image of the chubby-cheeked girl with deep brown eyes was widely shared on Facebook and reached a staggering 47 million people within two weeks.
State police ran down hundreds of leads and did well-being checks on at least 200 little girls. They didn’t learn her identity until last week, when Bond told Sprinsky that McCarthy had punched her in the abdomen over and over again until she died, Deakin said. He did it after Bella didn’t want to go to sleep, he said.
Deakin said Bond told police that when she saw her daughter’s body, McCarthy said: “She was a demon anyway. It was her time to die.”
A judge ordered McCarthy held without bail and Bond held on $1 million cash bail. They are due back in court Oct. 20.
Bond’s lawyer, Janice Bassil, said McCarthy “essentially held her captive” and wouldn’t allow her to leave after Bella’s death.
“She wants to see Mr. McCarthy held responsible for his actions,” Bassil said. “This is a very sad case. It is sad for everyone.”
McCarthy’s lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro, said McCarthy said he knew nothing about Bella’s death. Shapiro said Bond told McCarthy that Bella had been taken away by the state Department of Children and Families.
“He is shocked and saddened by the death of baby Bella, but he did not kill her,” Shapiro said.
A woman who identified herself as Bella’s godmother left court yelling “I hope you rot in hell!” as Deakin described how the girl died while Bond and McCarthy stood in a glass enclosure near the front of the courtroom.
The woman, Megan Fewtrell, said Bond, who has a long record of drug and prostitution arrests, would leave Bella with her for two-week periods.
Fewtrell said she contacted police twice to ask for a well-being check on Bella and her mother after she saw the composite image of Baby Doe and thought the girl looked like Bella around the eyes.
But state police and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office denied that investigators received such a tip.
When McCarthy was told by state police that Bond’s story differed from his, he indicated Bond might be lying to save herself, according to a criminal complaint.
Deakin said Bond told authorities McCarthy threatened to kill her if she told anyone what he had done to Bella. Bond said McCarthy got a plastic construction bag, placed Bella’s body inside and put the bag inside a refrigerator, the prosecutor said.
Later, Bond said, McCarthy put the bag inside the trunk of his car, Deakin said. He drove to the Boston Seaport, added weights to the bag and dumped it into the water, the prosecutor said.
On Monday night, Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and other officials joined clergy members and local residents for a candlelight vigil on the beach across the harbor where Bella’s body washed up.