I’ve been swamped working on this tonight, so instead of doing an independent blog entry I’m just going to post the story that Nick and I put together over the course of the night.
Someone will be checking in the courts tomorrow to try and see if there is a history of violence here, and what the assault and battery charges against Gulla were all about back in December.
By Robert Mills
SHIRLEY — A 19-year-old Shirley man who suffered stab and gunshot wounds during a Saturday night incident in Shirley that also left a 19-year-old Groton woman dead has been described as a person of interest in the investigation.
Meanwhile, the family of the girl, Allison Myrick of Groton, said their daughter’s death “stemmed from an abusive relationship.”
Acting Police Chief Gregory Massak would not comment on the statements of the Myrick family, but called Robert Gulla, 19, a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation into what happened inside the small, ranch-style house at 4 Morin St.
Massak was clear that he was not calling Gulla a suspect.
Police went to the home on a small dead-end off Leominster Street on Saturday about 8 p.m., and found Myrick already dead. She had “obvious stab wounds,” according to a spokesman for District Attorney Gerard Leone.
Gulla was found suffering from both stab and gunshot wounds, and was flown to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, where he remained in critical condition last night, according to a statement from Leone’s office.
A plainclothes investigator at the crime scene Saturday night was overhead saying, “He’s shot in the head,” while speaking on a cell phone.
Jessica Venezia, a spokesman for Leone, would not comment on the Myrick family’s statements, but said investigators have no reason to believe that a suspect is at large in the community.
She said authorities continue to investigate the circumstances of the incident, but they do not believe it to be a random attack.
Myrick’s family said she was a freshman at Fitchburg State College. She was a 2008 graduate of Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, where she was an honors student.
“She was a smart, talented, funny, courageous, compassionate and sweet young woman,” Myrick’s parents said in a statement. “Her death stemmed from an abusive relationship with a young man she met a few short months ago. Despite all our efforts, we were unable to convince Alli of the danger she was in.”
In a separate statement released through police, the Myrick family requested their privacy as they grieve.
Arrest logs show Gulla was arrested at 4 Morin St., on Dec. 10, and charged with vandalism and three counts of assault and battery. More details of that arrest were not immediately available yesterday, and Massak said he could not comment.
Gulla is a 2008 graduate of North Middlesex Regional High School in Townsend.
Groton-Dunstable Superintendent of Schools Alan Genovese said councilors will be available for students and staff this morning.
“Allison had really solid grades and was really respected by her peers and staff,” he said. “She was very involved with the yearbook. She was a really good kid. On behalf of the district, my sympathy and condolences go out to her family and friends. We’ll do what we can to provide support.
“It truly is a tragedy,” he added.
Fitchburg State College released a statement offering “deepest condolences,” and said staff members had already met with Myrick’s friends and roommates. Staff will be available to other students in the coming days.
“This is truly a sad day for the family, the college and for the many friends she has on campus,” college President Robert Antonucci said. “Words cannot adequately express the feelings we all have when the life of such a young student is taken away.”
The killing was the first in Shirley since July 8, 2001. Samuel Baker of Shirley is serving 10 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter for causing the death of his longtime girlfriend, Karen Costos, in another case that involved an abusive relationship.
Costos died of a heart attack as she lay unconscious on the floor of Baker’s father’s home at 60-6 Great Road in Shirley after Baker beat her with a broom handle.
The rural town is home to the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center but has been hit by budget problems in recent years, in part because the state stopped payments previously made to the town for hosting the prison.
Shirley has only nine full-time police officers, and Massak, the acting chief, is a former lieutenant who commands the department since selectmen have said they cannot afford to hire a permanent chief. Even as he serves as acting chief, Massak patrols the town five nights a week.
Don Parker, 60, who has lived in the town for more than 30 years, said, “You don’t hear about things like that happening around here,” a sentiment of disbelief and shock shared by several others.
Rich Dill, 54, of Shirley called the event “hard to imagine.”
Amy Williams, 44, of 3 Morin Road called her neighbors “good people” and described the dead-end street as “a nice, quiet neighborhood.”
Myrick’s family said they hope the incident will “bring to light the ongoing struggle with abusive relationships.”
“This horrible act of violence illustrates how volatile an abusive relationship can be, and how strong is the abuser’s control over his victim,” the family said. “We tried so hard to get through to Allison, but we couldn’t save her.
“If it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.”