WINCHESTER -- A Winchester man arrested today on charges of murdering his wife, his two children, and his mother-in-law inside their home allegedly left behind two letters acknowledging his crimes and the cowardly and selfish nature of the act, prosecutors said today.
Mortimer wrote in the letters that "I murdered my family," Leone said, paraphrasing the contents.
Leone also revealed that Mortimer's wife, Laura Stone Mortimer, 41, and the couple’s children, Charlotte, 2, and Thomas ("Finn"), 4, along with Laura Stone Mortimer's mother, Ragna Ellen Stone, 64, had died of "blunt trauma and wounds caused by sharp objects."
Leone said there was no clear motive for the slayings, but said Mortimer and his wife had a history of marital discord, in which financial issues had played a big part. He also said they had argued as recently as Monday night. The victims' bodies were found Wednesday morning in the home on quiet Windsong Lane after a relative became concerned about them.
After being arrested by Bernardston Police Chief John Palmeri, Mortimer is being returned to the Winchester Police Department, Leone said. He faces arraignment Friday in Woburn District Court.
Earlier today, authorities had announced the charges and sought the public's help in finding Mortimer, a 43-year-old sales executive with no documented prior history of domestic violence. Authorities said they believed he was driving a Toyota Highlander with a Massachusetts license plate of 81VJ58.
Leone said a father and son had encountered Mortimer in the Lake Pleasant area of the western Massachusetts town of Montague and helped him jumpstart his car. They were suspicious, though, and reported his license plate number to police. After matching the plate to the car being sought, police searched for Mortimer, and Palmeri found him in Bernardston.
Bernardston Police Sergeant Brian Ravish said officers received an alert from Montague police that Mortimer's vehicle could be in the area.
Palmeri said he spotted Mortimer traveling south on Route 10 sometime after 1 p.m.
"Was I actively hunting for this car? No," Palmeri said, adding that he was simply in the right place at the right time.
He said he recognized Mortimer from media reports.
"I just saw him, turned around, and stopped him," Palmeri said. "That's it."
He said he placed Mortimer into custody without incident. Mortimer said nothing as he was being arrested, Palmeri said.
Police Chief David Guilbault of nearby Greenfield said Palmeri "did an outstanding job. I'm delighted he got him so fast."
Mortimer was wearing a gray long-sleeved T-shirt and khaki pants as he was placed into a silver Ford 500 this afternoon in Bernardston for the ride to Winchester.
Mortimer did not appear to have any blood or cuts on his person when he was being transferred.
Winchester Police Chief Kenneth C. Albertelli said today that his officers had never responded to investigate a domestic violence call involving Mortimer and his family prior to Wednesday.
"There was nothing that would have drawn our attention to that household for any reason,'' he said.
The chief said his officers have, over the years, dealt with routine complaints about parking and other community issues, but never had to step in between Mortimer and his relatives.
Leone, at a press conference Wednesday, said that what authorities found at the crime scene “was horrific, disturbing, and unspeakable."
Laura Stone Mortimer was a managing economist at an independent research firm owned by CB Richard Ellis, a Boston commercial real estate services company. She was often quoted in business journals talking about commercial real estate.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Laura Stone Mortimer and her family,'' the company said today in a statement. "Laura was a valued and well respected colleague and, more important, a good friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with Laura’s family and loved ones at this terrible time.”
Globe correspondent Matthew Cavanaugh contributed to this report.
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