DA: "She has a name, and it's a beautiful name: Bella"

By Greg Hanlon
September 18, 2015 05:00 PM
Rachelle and Michael McCarthy
Courtesy Massachusetts State Police (2)

The boyfriend of the mother of Bella Bond, or “Baby Doe,” has been charged with her murder, and the mother has been charged with accessory to murder after the fact, authorities announced Friday.

Bella Bond was the previously unidentified Massachusetts toddler found dead in a plastic bag along a shoreline near Boston in June. Until today, when her identify was ascertained, she had been known as “Baby Doe.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said at a press conference late Friday that Michael McCarthy, 35, killed Bella intentionally. McCarthy and Rachelle Bond, 40, will be arraigned Monday in Dorchester Municipal Court, Conley said. (McCarthy is currently hospitalized for a medical condition unrelated to the case.)

“We allege that McCarthy caused Bella’s death, that he did so intentionally, that he and Bond took specific steps to keep Bella’s death a secret and to avoid prosecution,” he said.

Bella was just 2½ years old, Conley said. He said Bella died from “an act of violence in the very place where she should have felt safe: in her home.”

“She has a name, and it’s a beautiful name: Bella,” Conley said of a girl whose mysterious death has been the subject of nationwide media attention.

“And now we’re going to do our very best to speak for her in a court of law.”

Conley was short on specifics: He said authorities “have a very good idea of what happened to her based on the evidence,” but added he’s not at liberty to divulge many specifics now, and that authorities will reveal a more “descriptive account” on Monday.

Several friends of Rachelle Bond told PEOPLE that she had problems with drugs. One friend, Dominiquea Price, who met Bond in the Mary Eliza Mahoney House Family Shelter, say that Bond’s problems became worse when she took up with McCarthy.

“When he came about, I feel like she got worse with the drugs,” Price says.

Agency officials at the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families said in a statement to PEOPLE that DCF had contact with Bella from two neglect cases in 2012 and 2013. In both cases, services were provided and the cases were closed, the agency said.

Between 2001 and 2006, DCF terminated Rachelle Bond’s parental rights for two of her other children, the statement said. One of the children remains with the maternal grandmother, while the other was adopted by a non-related family.

According to the DCF statement, when Bella’s body was discovered in June, officials immediately did a sweep of all open cases, with agency social workers visiting every child to ensure their well-being. Because Bella’s cases was closed, it was not among those involved in the sweep.

In June, a woman walking her dog discovered Bella in a plastic bag on Deer Island, a beach near Boston. Conley said authorities believe that Bella’s body had been there for 48 to 72 hours, saying, “There wasn’t a lot of decomposition.”

Conley said that multiple search warrants executed over the previous 24 hours led to Bella’s identification and the subsequent arrests of McCarthy and Bond.

Jarilyn Acevedo, who met Rachelle Bond in the shelter, told PEOPLE that Bella “was always happy. She’s just so beautiful and she was such a sweet little girl.”

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