By Joseph A. Curtatone
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)
Someone knows. Eighteen years have passed since the murder of Deanna Cremin. Seasons have come and gone without justice for a Somerville High School student who loved children, became the neighborhood babysitter, who worked with third graders, volunteered her time with special needs students and aspired to become a preschool teacher. The person who assaulted and killed Deanna three days after her 17th birthday robbed a young woman, her family and this community of a brilliant life that had touched so many others and held such promise for a future that cruelly will never come. Our grief does not subside but relentlessly aches as the years pass, fueled by the terrible knowledge of one fact: Someone knows who killed Deanna Cremin.
We are waiting. We wait for someone to step forward and provide the information that cannot hope to render our heartache any less, but can provide that small but precious gift of mercy, knowing that the murderer of an innocent girl has been held accountable. That mercy would not only embrace Deanna’s friends, family and our community, who will always wonder what might have been, but would no longer have to wonder who. That mercy would also embrace the person who provides the information that leads to the arrest of a murderer, gracing that person’s conscience with absolution after 18 years of bearing that knowledge, lifting a great weight that must grow more oppressive every day.
The phones in the Somerville Police Department and Middlesex District Attorney’s Office sit in wait, every ring a faint signal of hope that somewhere, someone knows. Anyone with information regarding Deanna’s murder can confidentially contact the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office at 617-679-6660, the Somerville Police at 617-625-1600 or anonymously text a tip to the police at TIP411 with subject 617SPD. One tip. One moment. It’s all we need.
Deanna was murdered the night of March 29, 1995. She had been walking home from her boyfriend’s house, who said he walked her halfway home. Around 8 a.m. the following morning, two girls that Deanna previously babysat found her body behind a senior housing complex on Jaques Street. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted, according to the autopsy, and left lying in the open. Deanna was less than a block from home.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office released a description and composite sketch of a man seen near where Deanna was found, wanting to question him in connection with Deanna’s murder, describing him as between 40 and 45 years old, between 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-11 and between 160 and 170 pounds. No arrest was made. Somerville Police identified three separate persons of interest. No charges were filed. Days became weeks, weeks became months, months became years. Deanna’s murderer walks free.
Last Thursday, I attended a ceremony to mark the addition of 66 new names to the Garden of Peace memorial on Beacon Hill, which pays somber tribute to the victims of homicide. Deanna’s name, etched onto a smooth stone, was among those added, as was the name of Christopher J. Souza, who was murdered in his Mystic Housing apartment in Somerville in 2009. As all 66 new names were read aloud, my heart grew heavy, and it was especially difficult to hear Deanna’s mother, Katherine Cremin, read the name of her daughter. No mother should have to bear such a burden, and the memorial is a stark reminder that we cannot forget this.
Deanna’s name now lies beside the names of almost 860 other murder victims, a permanent reminder of injustice. Even without her stone in that memorial, Deanna would not be forgotten. We have not forgotten. Her family and friends have not forgotten. In March, they held a prayer service at St. Ann’s Church, where Deanna was baptized. They walked the way home that Deanna never got to finish. The corner of Jaques Street and Temple Street is forever named Deanna Cremin Square. Her family delicately hangs a wreath from the square’s sign every year. Each year, they put up a billboard offering a $20,000 reward, asking simply that someone come forward.
Deanna is not forgotten. We are waiting. Someone out there has the ability to help Deanna’s family, her friends and our community heal. Deanna’s murder has left an indelible stain on our community. We wait for the day when we are absolved of this painful unanswered question, when we are granted a small mercy and that will be returned in kind to the person who can help us answer that question. Someone knows who killed Deanna Cremin. We are waiting for your call.