Mar 9, 2022

Robin Murphy, convicted in Fall River 'cult murder,' tells her story to the parole board

Audrey Cooney
The Herald News
March 9, 2022

NATICK — Robin Murphy, one of three people convicted in the Fall River “cult murders,” is again looking to be paroled after spending more than three decades behind bars.

“I feel as though the board doesn’t think I take responsibility for my actions. I don’t know how to better express that I have,” she said during a parole hearing on Tuesday.

In 1979 and 1980, two local young women and one teenage girl — Doreen Levesque, Barbara Raposa and Karen Marsden — were gruesomely murdered in the Fall River area. The graphic nature of their killings and the involvement of a so-called Satanic cult, at a time when “Satanic panic” gripped the nation, contributed to a subsequent frenzy that surrounded the murders.

Alleged cult leader and pimp Carl Drew was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the Marsden murder and remains in prison. Andrew Maltias, another alleged cult member, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Raposa murder and has since died. No one has ever been convicted for Levesque’s killing.

Murphy, who was just 17 when she was arrested, took a deal in exchange for testifying against Drew and Maltais. She admitted to killing Marsden and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. In 1985, she recanted her testimony and has maintained her innocence since then.

Convicted murderer Robin Murphy is interviewed from Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Framingham for the Epix documentary "Fall River."
Murphy was released on parole in 2004. She returned to prison in 2011 after allegedly violating her parole by failing to discuss a relationship with a woman who had a felony conviction to her parole officer and by being in the vicinity of a drug transaction.

Robin Murphy tells board she lied about murders 

During Tuesday’s hearing, Murphy told the parole board she lied about the murders under oath to ensure Maltias and Drew would go to prison.

Murphy first met Maltais when she was 11. He sexually abused her over the course of several years, she told the board. She later saw him with other young girls and was determined to put an end to it, she said.

And, she was convinced that Drew killed Marsden, with whom Murphy had a romantic relationship.

“I really wanted to make sure Carl went to jail. I really believed he killed my girlfriend,” she said. “She told me he was gonna kill her, and I believed her.”

Murphy described her false testimony as a “suicide mission” and said she didn’t fully consider the impact her confession would have, especially on her family.

“I didn’t care what happened to me,” she said.

She said she feels the cases would never have been solved without her testimony, but that she now regrets lying.

“I feel like I should have let it play out,” she said. “If Carl Drew is guilty, that’s his own battle to fight.”

Parole board questions past behavior

Dr. Charlene Bonner, chair of the parole board, acknowledged that Murphy’s history includes “incredible trauma, sexual, physical (trauma), neglect.” She said Murphy has a positive “institutional resume” which includes earning a bachelor’s degree while imprisoned.

“You’ve done everything you can do,” she said.

Still, she said, she was concerned by Murphy’s involvement while out on parole with a woman with a felony record who was an active drug user, saying it mirrored previous unhealthy relationships of Murphy’s that preceded the murders.

Murphy said she thought when she was first paroled in 2004 that she had dealt with her childhood trauma enough to avoid repeating the mistake of getting into codependent, unhealthy relationships, but has since realized that her work was not done. After another 11 years in prison, she’s made more progress, she said.

“I make decisions about who I interact with today and I plan to carry that out for the rest of my days,” she said.

Programs during incarceration 
Attorney Courtney Kenyon, who represented Murphy, stressed the positive things her client has done while incarcerated, especially since returning to prison in 2011. These include becoming involved with a program to train service dogs for veterans. And unlike during previous attempts at parole, Murphy has grappled with the implications that her false testimony may have sent an innocent person to prison, Kenyon said, referencing a theory that Maltais committed all three murders.

“There really has been a growth and change in Robin in the five years that I’ve known her,” she said.

One person besides Kenyon, psychologist Frank DiCataldo, spoke in favor of Murphy’s release. He pointed out that Murphy spent seven years on parole “without criminal or violent relapse,” saying that alongside her age and history indicates that she can return to the wider community without committing further crimes.

Victim's friend: Murphy's a narcissist

Three people spoke in favor of keeping Murphy behind bars: Assistant District Attorney in Bristol County Patrick Bomberg, retired Fall River detective and state Rep. Alan Silvia, who investigated the murders, and Patricia DeSouto, who was friends with Raposa.

DeSouto described Murphy as a “narcissistic, psychopathic, sociopathic liar” who, far from being the victim of circumstances, relished violence and was actually the ringleader in all three murders.

“She loved it,” DeSouto said.

She downplayed Murphy’s depiction of Maltais as a pedophile, saying he began a consensual relationship with Raposa when she was 15 or 16, when he was about twice her age. He never hit Raposa or coerced her, she said.  

“Andy was a mouse, as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “Robin was violent.”

DeSouto scoffed at Murphy’s work with the VetDogs program and said, as a Christian herself, she was amused by Murphy saying during the hearing that she wants to be released to a Christian residential community.

“In hell, Robin, you won’t be anybody’s boss,” she said. “You can’t lie or pretend with God.”

The parole board will accept written testimony for the next two weeks. They can take several months to issue a decision.

Audrey Cooney can be reached at Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.

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