BOSTON (AP) — The world finally knows her name — Bella Bond — and some of the grisly circumstances of how she was killed and later found on a beach in Boston Harbor.
But there are many lingering questions: Why didn’t those who knew the 2-year-old girl call police when they stopped seeing her with her mother, Rachelle Bond? Why didn’t state child protection workers remove her from her home when her mother had a history of drug and prostitution arrests? What’s next in the case?
Bella’s body was found in a plastic bag on a beach on Deer Island on June 25 by a woman walking her dog. Bond’s boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, 35, is charged with murder for allegedly punching the girl in the abdomen until she stopped breathing. Bond, 40, is charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Q: Why didn’t anyone report Bella missing when she first disappeared or after police began an intensive investigation and media blitz to figure out who she was when her body was found?
A: One neighbor said she assumed that the girl had been taken by the state Department of Children and Families, given the erratic behavior shown by her mother, Rachelle Bond. Another said she wondered where the girl went, but never asked Bond because she felt it was none of her business. Others said they did not connect her disappearance with the composite image that was widely distributed on Facebook, reaching millions of people. Bond’s mother and sister told reporters they had been estranged from Bond because of her drug use.
Q: Why didn’t the state Department of Children and Families take custody of Bella?
A: DCF said the agency had been involved with the girl twice when she was an infant — in 2012 and 2013 — providing neglect-related support. The cases were then closed. The agency had terminated Bond’s parental rights for two older children between 2001 and 2006.
Gov. Charlie Baker said Sunday that the agency will review its involvement with the girl, and move quickly to put into effect recommendations to identify and protect at-risk children. Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo attended a candlelight vigil for the girl on Deer Island Monday night.
Q: What’s next in the case against Bond and McCarthy?
A: Bond is being held on a $1 million cash bail. McCarthy is being held without bail. A status hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 20.
Bond’s lawyer said she was afraid of McCarthy and was essentially held captive by him after her daughter was killed. McCarthy’s lawyer said McCarthy claims he knows nothing about Bella’s death. McCarthy contends Bond told him that her daughter was taken away by state child protection workers.
In Massachusetts, murder can only be prosecuted in Superior Court, so the case eventually will have to be transferred from Dorchester Municipal Court to Suffolk Superior Court. Prosecutors will first seek indictments from a grand jury. Because this case is complex, prosecutors do not expect a grand jury to issue indictments against McCarthy and Bond until after the Oct. 20 status date. After indictment, the case moves to Superior Court.