A 35-year-old man is charged with murder in the death of a toddler found nearly three months ago along a Boston Harbor shoreline, and the girl’s mother is accused of helping him after her daughter was killed.
Baby Doe is Bella Neveah Amoroso Bond, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said Friday. She was 2 1/2 years old when she was killed at her home on Maxwell Street in Dorchester, he said.
For months, investigators have searched for her name, and tens of millions of people viewed her photo around the world. But it was a tip to the Boston Police homicide unit that broke the case open Thursday night.
“Someone who acquired some information called Boston Police,’’ Conley said. “We were able to build this case in 24 hours and solve it.’’
On Friday, police arrested Michael P. McCarthy, charging him with the murder of Bella. He was arrested at a hospital where he is being treated for an “unrelated medical condition,’’ according to Conley.
Bella’s mother, 40-year-old Rachelle Bond, has also been arrested, and police are planning to charge her with accessory after the fact to murder, Conley said at a Friday press conference.
“We allege McCarthy caused Bella’s death,’’ he said, “that he did so intentionally, that he and Bond took specific steps to keep Bella’s death a secret and to avoid prosecution.’’
McCarthy and Bond are expected to be arraigned Monday at Boston Municipal Court in Dorchester. Conley said more information about what happened to Bella will be discussed in court.
“We have a very good idea of what happened to her based on the evidence,’’ he said.
Conley thanked law enforcement, media, and the public for sharing the composite image of Baby Doe on social media. “We never could have knocked on 50 million doors in the investigation, but we had the equivalent of that,’’ he said.
It’s unclear when Bella died, and investigators have given little information about how she was killed, other than that it was at home. Conley said in Friday’s press conference that the girl was 2 1/2 years old when she died. Bond posted on Facebook that her daughter’s birthday was Aug. 6, meaning she would have turned 2 1/2 not long after the last photo was posted of her on her mother’s Facebook page on Dec. 25 of last year.
Conley, who referred to Bella as a “true innocent,’’ said DNA testing is pending but authorities are “extremely confident’’ with the identification. He said authorities believe they know how she died but a state medical examiner is working to determine her official cause and manner of death.
“This child whose very name means beauty was murdered,’’ he said.
Conley noted that Friday marked the beginning, not the end, of the case.
“The men and women who investigated this case have given her name back, now we will give her justice,’’ he said.
Earlier in the day, the Department of Children and Families released a statement saying they had “brief involvement’’ with the child as an infant, but has not had an open case with the family in more than two years.
“Since June, the Department has been working closely with law enforcement on exploring dozens of leads in hopes to identify the little girl found on Deer Island,’’ said DCF spokesperson Rhonda Mann. “Now that we know her name, the story is no less tragic.’’
DCF had contact with Bella twice in 2012 and 2013, both times involving support for neglect, the department said. Both cases were closed.
Between 2001 and 2006, the department terminated parental rights for two of Bond’s other children, who were adopted by their maternal grandmother, the department said. Gov. Charlie Baker said the mother’s other children were much older and no longer live with her.
After the child’s body was found June 25, law enforcement and DCF officials scoured the department’s open cases, looking for any children that matched Baby Doe’s physical description.
In July, a memorial Mass was held for the then-unidentified girl. Conley said 10 people, including Cardinal Sean O’Malley, have offered to bury her.