He was a Burlington elementary school gym teacher in his rookie year. She was an Arlington playground instructor and a legal cleric. Thomas J. Curtin, 24, and 20-year-old Ann Rosalie Pierce were set to be married in August, 1968. The Arlington residents had known each other since childhood, had dated for a few years and were a month away from their marriage ceremony. They had just rented a venue for the big event.
But then Pierce broke off the engagement. And Curtin snapped.
On July 2, 1968, Curtin stabbed Arlington police officer James Crocker in the neck, stole his gun and drove to Pierce’s house at 109 Milton Street. She was walking nearby, about to return a bridal shower gift to a friend. Curtin shot her five times and fled to his own house on Fairmont Street. His sister called the police. They arrived to find Curtain being forcibly held by his father.
Pierce died hours later at Symmes Hospital in Arlington. She’d been working for Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson on a team preparing evidence for special grand jury in Bristol County, but Richardson said he had no reason to believe her slaying was related to her work. Officer Crocker suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Curtin was “an extremely fine young man with a nice personality,” according to Curtin’s boss, Burlington school Superintendent Dr. Herman J. Dunseith, talking to the Lowell Sun after the attack.
Curtin’s arraignment was delayed twice. Once because his lawyer, Ronald Chisholm, was in Europe, and again because Curtin collapsed outside the courtroom. Chisholm told judge Robert Sullivan his client belonged in a mental hospital. “I have spoken to the defendant three or four times within the last 90 minutes, and I believe that his appearance before the court would cause him further emotional and mental problems.”
Judge Sullivan: “In light of your remarks, I can’t see putting the defendant through another emotional trauma unnecessarily.” And so off went Curtin, to this place.
A scholarship fund in Arlington under Ann’s name is still active today.
On a happier note, the Burlington Mall opened 50 years ago today. Full mall story with lots of campy photos here.
The town finally decided to install A/C in the library (not the current one).
ZAP! On July 2, 1968, lightning caused electrical damage to the home of Joseph Medeiros, 7 Peach Orchard Road. Road crews removed a downed tree on Terrace Hall Ave. that was struck by lightning, and a TV was set on fire at Keith Sullivan’s house, 102 Bedford St.