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January 15, 2013

Salem man goes on trial for 1969 murder

Salem man faces life without parole if convicted

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin today in the first-degree murder trial of a Salem, N.H., man charged in the 1969 slaying of a Lowell teen.

Michael Ferreira, 58, faces life in prison without parole if convicted in the death of 15-year-old John McCabe of Tewksbury on Sept. 27, 1969.

The trial is being held in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, where proceedings begin this morning with jury selection, according to MaryBeth Long of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Eleven jurors were chosen yesterday, she said.

Once the final jurors are selected, opening arguments will be heard by Judge Richard Ricciardone, Long said. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Thomas O’Reilly.

Ferreira and two other men, Walter Shelley, 61, of Tewksbury and Edward Brown, 60, of Londonderry, also have been charged in the case.

The three men were teenagers when they allegedly killed McCabe, who did not return home after attending a Knights of Columbus dance in Lowell.

Investigators believe the three men abducted McCabe and held him in a car against his will while they assaulted him. They then allegedly abandoned him in a Lowell field where McCabe, bound and gagged, died of asphyxiation, according to a medical examiner.

The boy’s wrists, legs and neck were bound with rope and his eyes and mouth were taped shut, according to a police report.

No one was charged in the murder until April 2011 — 41 years after McCabe’s death. That’s when a Lowell detective started interviewing people who provided information during the original investigation. Those tips led them to the three suspects.

Ferreira, who pleaded not guilty, has been held on $500,000 cash bail. He also has been charged with perjury for lying to a grand jury.

Shelley has been charged with first-degree murder and witness intimidation. Brown has been charged with manslaughter and is expected to plead guilty in exchange for his testimony against the co-defendants.

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