Newton man accused of beating his wife to death pleads not guilty to murder

Richard Hanson is charged with killing his wife Nancy last month while the couple's children were home.

Richard J. Hanson, 64, appeared in Newton District Court in July. He was arrested by Newton police at the family home on Brookline Street after a child inside the house called 911 to report that Hanson was assaulting his wife, Nancy M. Hanson, who later died. Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe Staff

Richard Hanson, the Newton man accused of bludgeoning his wife to death in July, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder during his Middlesex Superior Court arraignment Thursday.

Hanson, 64, was ordered held without bail, court records show. He’s been in custody since his arraignment in Newton District Court last month, though the case shifted to the Superior Court after a grand jury indicted Hanson on Aug. 17. 

Prosecutors allege he assaulted Nancy Hanson, 54, with “one or more objects” on July 15, while the couple’s children were home. 

One of the couple’s sons called 911 and told police that he believed his father was hitting his mother with a baseball bat, Assistant District Attorney Megan McGovern said in court last month.

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A friend of Nancy Hanson’s who had been speaking on the phone with her that evening told investigators that Richard got on the call at one point and accused Nancy of cheating on him, prosecutors said in a statement of the case filed in court Thursday.


The friend “assured him Nancy was not cheating on him,” prosecutors wrote. Later, the friend said she heard Richard Hanson enter the room as Nancy said, “Rich, no,” before dropping the phone to the floor.

“After a moment of silence she heard several loud and repetitive bangs as well as the children screaming something to the effect of, ‘Dad stop, you’re killing her,’” prosecutors wrote.

The friend dialed 911.

When officers arrived, Richard Hanson was standing in the driveway with blood spatter on his clothes and body, prosecutors said.

“Richard Hanson told officers he was ‘sorry’ and that he ‘caught her cheating,’” according to the statement of the case.

Officers found Nancy Hanson lying unconscious on the floor of one of her son’s bedrooms, bleeding from her head, prosecutors said. The officers allegedly found a bloody baseball bat and barbell nearby. 

Nancy Hanson was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, where she later died. 

A medical examiner noted multiple injuries to Nancy Hanson’s body, including a fractured right forearm, a compound fracture to her left forearm, defensive wounds to her fingers, rib fractures, multiple blunt force injuries to her skull, and bruising to her upper torso, according to the statement of the case.


“The three children relayed observing various portions of the incident and the aftermath,” prosecutors said. “All three heard the incident and observed the victim severely injured. One of the children relayed seeing his father hitting the victim in the back and the head with a baseball bat, while a second observed the defendant sitting on the bed holding the bat while the victim was injured and unconscious on the floor.”

The children also told investigators that Richard and Nancy Hanson argued frequently in the weeks leading up to the alleged attack.

Days earlier, Nancy Hanson had obtained a restraining order against her husband, telling Newton police that Richard Hanson took her purse, laptop, and car keys and refused to give them back, according to The Boston Globe.

According to the Globe, she denied cheating on her husband in a written affidavit, also alleging that Richard Hanson refused to give her access to family finances, spent money earmarked for their children, and squandered $10,000 on shoes. 

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan previously said police had been attempting to serve the restraining order when the fatal attack occurred.

Reached by phone Thursday, Richard Hanson’s attorney, Arthur Kelly, declined to comment on the arraignment. 


“The case is going to go through the process as all cases do, and that’s where we are at this point,” he said.


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