Murder Count

The state’s nastiest club may have a new member.

This much is verifiable: In 1984, a Revere seafood peddler named Leonard Paradiso was sentenced to life behind bars for the murder and attempted rape of a 20-year-old woman. But in his new investigative book, The Paradiso Files, case prosecutor Timothy Burke claims Paradiso may have killed six others. And if he’s right, Burke will have introduced Massachusetts to one of the worst killers in its history.

Perhaps it’s a testament to our relative peacefulness that if a man here slays seven people, he’d rank high among the state’s thin ranks of known serial killers. The worst includes Jane Toppan, a nurse who killed at least 31 people with deadly doses of morphine around 1900—a far higher toll than that of our most infamous murderer, Albert “Boston Strangler” DeSalvo, who killed 12. But the list drops off fast, ending with folks like Alfred Gaynor, who was convicted of strangling four women in the 1990s. Then again, Massachusetts has seen its fair share of trigger-happy mobsters (like hit man John Martorano, who admitted to 20 slayings), war criminals (like Charles Taylor, who attended Bentley College before ravaging Liberia), and Indian-killing colonials. So our hands aren’t that clean.