Police searching for Dorchester man in death of woman found burned along MBTA tracks

Fernando Owens, 43, a Dorchester man police say murdered Ashley Bortner, whose body was found in Bridgewater in November.
Fernando Owens, 43, a Dorchester man police say murdered Ashley Bortner, whose body was found in Bridgewater in November. –Plymouth County District Attorney's Office

Authorities issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for a Dorchester man who they say killed and burned a 29-year-old woman in retaliation for his son’s killing earlier this month.

Fernando Owens, 43, is wanted for the Nov. 3 murder of Ashley Bortner, a New Jersey woman he believed had a hand in the death of his son Domenic earlier the same day, according to Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz.

State Police investigators say Bortner’s body was found burning, gagged by her own clothing with her hands and legs bound, just before midnight Nov. 3 next to the MBTA tracks in Bridgewater, after police responded to a 911 call reporting two people and a suspicious vehicle in the area.

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Owens knew Bortner and believed she was in some way responsible for the death of his son, Domenic, 21, who was shot in Dorchester less than 12 hours before her body was found, according to the investigators.

Police were able to link Owen to the murder from items seized from his Dorchester home, including a “sort of Egyptian bath towel’’ and electrical cord. They say it was unclear if Bortner was killed at the scene, but scorch marks in the grass indicate her body was set on fire where it was discovered.

State and local police investigate the discovery of a burned body, later determined to be that of 29-year-old Ashley Bortner. —George Rizer / The Boston Globe

On Tuesday, Cruz also upgraded charges for Manchester, New Hampshire, couple Julian and Shannon Squires — ages 40 and 39, respectively — to accessory to murder. The couple had previously been arraigned on charges of misleading investigators, but now prosecutors allege the couple helped Ownes dispose of Bortner’s body.

Cell phone records put the Squires in Bridgewater around the time of the 911 call, and the couple owns a dark SUV similar to the one described by the caller.

Anyone with information about Owens should call Massachusetts State Police at 508-947-8087 or Bridgewater Police at 508-697-6118.

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