Beheaded Lawrence Teenager Identified as Missing 16-Year-Old
A search for answers continued Friday after the body of a beheaded teenager was discovered Thursday along the banks of the Merrimack River in Lawrence.
The body found decapitated has been identified as Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, a 16-year-old Lawrence boy who had been missing since November 19, the Essex County District Attorney’s office tells Fox 25.
Officials did not want to say much about the investigation Friday, at the risk of tainting the efforts to find those responsible for the teen’s death.
Police say the body was discovered at 2:45 p.m. yesterday by a dog-walker. The victim’s head has also been recovered.
Despite saying little about what they know, officials say they do not believe the attack was random, nor do they believe anyone else is in danger. “There is no further threat to the city of Lawrence,” Police Chief James Fitzpatrick said at an early afternoon news conference.
Mayor Dan Rivera urged law enforcement, as well as the medical examiner’s office and Gov. Charlie Baker, to devote all the resources they can to solving the crime, which has shocked residents of the city.
At the news conference, he cautioned against jumping to conclusions. “Rumors and innuendo” are spreading quickly on Facebook and elsewhere, he says, adding that the investigation doesn’t “happen at the speed of social media.”
“I share everyone’s frustration and anger about the incident itself, about the lack of information currently available, and frankly about how this could happen in our community,” he says. He also reiterated what Fitzpatrick said. “As far as we know today … our neighborhoods and our kids are not at threat to what happened to this victim.”
There had been speculation about the possibility that the body would be identified as that of Viloria-Paulino, whose disappearance has led officials to offer support at schools and to plead with fellow students for help solving the case. The boy’s father had told media his son was the victim. But that had not been confirmed until the District Attorney’s office confirmed his identity Friday.
Those with information were urged to contact the DA at 978-745-8908 or law enforcement at 978-794-5900. Tipsters can also send information via text by sending the message “lawpd” to 274 637.