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 Latest coverage

October 25
Victims could now collect

October 2
Geoghan's sister hits guards

October 1
Geoghan's sister to speak

September 27
Conviction erasure protested
Druce is hospitalized again
Guard ad seeks understanding

September 24
Inquiry: Druce beaten as child

September 20
Druce pleads not guilty in slay
Geoghan claims guard assault

September 14
Report says Druce in a rage

September 13
Letter: Druce abused as a boy

September 12
Geoghan bore guards' abuse
Lawyer: Mail deluges accused

September 11
Expanded panel is sought

September 8
Druce is returned from hospital

September 5
Geoghan consultant ties eyed

September 4
Conflict raised on consultant

September 3
Bias concerns raised in probe

September 2
No new panel members seen

August 31
Geoghan panel to expand

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Alleged Geoghan killer led troubled life, records show

Addiction, theft prefaced murder

By John McElhenny, Globe Correspondent, 8/26/2003


Joseph L. Druce in a 1986 arrest photo.

 Related stories
Geoghan killed
10/2/2003
Geoghan's sister criticizes guards

10/1/2003
Geoghan's sister to speak

9/27/2003
Victims protest conviction erasure
Druce is hospitalized again
Guards' ad seeks understanding

9/24/2003
Inquiry: Druce beaten as a child

9/20/2003
Druce pleads not guilty to killing
Geoghan claimed guard assault

9/14/2003
Report describes Druce in a rage

9/13/2003
Letter says Druce abused as boy

9/12/2003
Inmate: Geoghan bore abuse
Lawyer: Mail deluging accused

9/11/2003
Expanded Geoghan panel sought

9/8/2003
Druce is returned from hospital

9/7/2003
McNamara: A back-page death

9/5/2003
Geoghan consultant's ties eyed
McGrory: Romney can do better

9/4/2003
Conflict issue raised on consultant

9/3/2003
Bias concerns are raised in probe

9/2/2003
No new members seen for panel

8/31/2003
Geoghan panel will be expanded

8/29/2003
Group assails prison guards
Geoghan is buried in Brookline
Op-Ed: Geoghan's 'innocence'

8/28/2003
Priest in 'aggressive' case unit
Records show Druce as deviant
Voiding of record is challenged

8/27/2003
Bid to keep Geoghan at Concord
Geoghan's death voids conviction
Prison units see volatile mixes
US attorney won't rush decision

8/26/2003
Monthlong plot to kill Geoghan
Alleged killer led troubled life

8/25/2003
Geoghan was tied and beaten
Death doesn't end victim suffering
Similiarities in suspect's '88 crime
Priest seen as a prison target

8/24/2003
Geoghan is strangled in prison
A troubled life exploiting vocation

 Documents
Geoghan case letters, documents
Law deposition in Geoghan case

 From the archives
Key stories in the Geoghan case

1/6/2003
Church allowed abuse for years

1/19/2002
Geoghan found guilty of sex abuse

2/22/2002
Geoghan receives 9-10 years

5/9/2002
Law recalls little on Geoghan case

9/19/2002
Geoghan victims settle for $10m

 Complete coverage
The John Geoghan case

Joseph L. Druce, while being interviewed by a prison psychiatrist in 1989, declared that he expected to "go to Satan" and await the arrival of his enemies, and announced, "I'll die before I serve a life sentence!"

A more detailed picture began to emerge yesterday of Druce, a onetime truck driver and mechanic who authorities say beat and strangled John J. Geoghan at a maximum-security state prison Saturday.

Court records obtained by the Associated Press said that Druce had been under various forms of psychiatric treatment since about age 5 and had taken medication for his mental condition until his middle teens. By then, Druce had become addicted to various drugs, the records showed.

Druce was born Darrin Smiledge in Danvers in 1965, the son of a sheet metal worker. He finished the 10th grade before taking jobs as a mechanic and truck driver, according to court records. He changed his name in 1999, while in prison.

His criminal career began soon after he left high school. He was charged with more than two dozen crimes, from drug possession to larceny to forgery. It was in 1988 in Gloucester that Druce's life of crime took a violent turn. Druce was hitchhiking with a friend in Gloucester when a man who drove a bus for the elderly picked them up.

According to testimony during the trial, once they had arrived in a secluded section of Gloucester, the driver, 51-year-old George Rollo, touched Druce in the groin, and Druce reacted violently, beating Rollo, tying him up, and throwing him in the trunk of Rollo's car.

After Rollo's beating, Druce and his friend picked up some beer and Druce drove the car to a parking lot near the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, where he strangled Rollo with a rope, the prosecutor said.

He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. While Druce was in prison, a psychiatrist noted his rage in explicit detail.

"Angry, frustrated, blaming, remorseless, intense, determined man, believes in Satan, unafraid, laughing as he declares his intent to kill himself," the psychiatrist's notes said.

In a May 2001 letter to prison officials, Druce offered to provide information on the unsolved murders of two Massachusetts girls, Molly Bish and Holly Piirainen, in exchange for a commutation of his life sentence.

Worcester District Attorney John Conte said investigators looked into Druce's offer but found that it wasn't credible.

In 1999, Darrin Ernest Smiledge formally applied to change his name to Joseph Lee Druce, according to court records. In the space marked "reason for change," Smiledge wrote, "Saftey and enemy issue's, very important to change identity."

Druce's father, Dana Smiledge of Byfield, said Saturday that his son has had a longstanding animosity toward gay people, Jews, and African-Americans. Druce also pleaded guilty last year to mailing anthrax hoax letters to 39 lawyers around the country with Jewish-sounding names. Dana Smiledge said Saturday that Druce had also threatened to kill his family.

Efforts to reach Druce's former attorneys were unsuccessful yesterday.

J. Martin Richey, who defended him in the anthrax hoax case, did not return two calls yesterday. Martin Gideonse, who defended him in the 1988 murder case, died several years ago.

Stephen Kurkjian and John Ellement of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Renee Wright contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was also used.


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