Investigator: Druce Thought Killing Was Morally Right

By Denise Lavoie
The Associated Press, carried in SouthCoastToday
January 14, 2006

WORCESTER -- The inmate accused of killing John Geoghan claims he found religion and saw himself as a savior of abused children when he strangled the pedophile priest in his cell, an investigator said yesterday.

Testifying in Joseph Druce's murder trial, Lt. Edward Hammond said Druce told him he had been ordained through the mail as a minister of the Church of the Chosen Ones.

He also said Druce said he and Geoghan, a defrocked Catholic priest accused of molesting 150 boys, used to sit together in the cell block and talk about religion.

Hammond, an internal affairs investigator with the state Department of Correction who interviewed Druce after Geoghan's death, said Druce told him he had "been theologized," and that the convicted killer signed a waiver of his Miranda rights as "Rev. Joseph Druce."

Geoghan, a central figure in Boston's clergy sex abuse scandal, was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy.

Defense lawyer John LaChance does not dispute that Druce strangled, beat and stomped on Geoghan in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski prison in August 2003. But he says Druce should not be held criminally responsible because he was suffering from dissociative disorder, a severe mental illness that can lead patients to have delusions and adopt alternate personalities.

Under cross-examination by LaChance, Hammond conceded yesterday that Druce told him he thought he was doing the right thing.

"He was portraying himself essentially as the savior of the kids for having killed Geoghan?" Druce's attorney asked.

"He was boastful of his actions and said he did it for the kids," Hammond said.

"He thought what he was doing was morally right?" LaChance asked.

"Right," Hammond replied.

Hammond also testified about a diary found in Druce's cell after Geoghan's death. Reading from one entry dated four days before the killing, he said, "Mind racing. Can't read and concentrate. Can't write a letter. Subjects jumping back and forth."

Earlier, Hammond testified that Druce appeared "pleased with himself" as he gave a confession shortly after guards pulled him from Geoghan's cell.

"I killed the child molester," Hammond said Druce boasted. "He won't touch any more kids."

Several prison guards testified this week that Druce told them he killed Geoghan after he heard Geoghan say he would move to South America when he got out of prison in order to work with children. Druce also claimed he overheard Geoghan talking with other sex offenders in the prison about what they did to children.

Yesterday, at a hearing outside the jury's presence, LaChance questioned two inmates that have been listed as potential witnesses about Druce's claims. Typically, witnesses are deposed before trial, but this was the first opportunity LaChance had to question them.

One of the inmates, Lewis Lent, said he was housed with Geoghan at MCI-Concord in spring 2003. He said Geoghan denied molesting any boys.

"In my presence, John refuted the charges that were against him in court," Lent said. "He never admitted anything to do with that kind of thing, no."

Lent, a North Adams handyman, was sentenced to life in prison for the 1990 murder of 12-year-old Jimmy Bernardo and the attempted abduction of a Pittsfield girl. Lent also admitted killing 12-year-old Sara Anne Wood in upstate New York in 1993.

Another inmate, Jesus Quintana, who was convicted of molesting a mentally retarded person, told LaChance that he played cards with Geoghan at Souza-Baranowski prison, and that Geoghan bragged about molesting children.

"He started talking about what he did to little kids," Quintana said

Earlier, Joy Charon, a nurse's assistant in the prison hospital unit, testified that Druce received "lots of fan mail" after Geoghan's killing.

Druce, 40, unsuccessfully used an insanity defense during his 1989 trial for the killing of a man who allegedly made a sexual advance toward him after picking Druce up hitchhiking.

Geoghan helped set off the sex scandal in the Roman Catholic Church after court records were unsealed showing that Boston Archdiocese officials allowed him to continue having contact with children even after the abuse allegations surfaced.


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