photos presented at hearing

Parole opposed for Topsfield man convicted of murdering parents and sister 40 years ago

NATICK — The parole application of a man convicted of killing his mother, father, and sister 40 years ago has been opposed by his surviving sibling and current and former prosecutors.

The case was heard by the Massachusetts Parole Board in Natick yesterday.

Now 55, Alfred Brown was given life without parole in 1978 for the murders in the family home on Mansion Drive, Topsfield, when he was just 15 years old.

Although sentenced to life without parole, Brown became eligible when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2013 those sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

In a statement issued before the hearing, the Essex County District Attorney’s office said it would oppose Brown’s release.

“Assistant District Attorney Kim Faitella will present the Commonwealth’s opposition to Mr. Brown’s parole,” the statement said.

“In my opinion, if you let him out, he will kill again,” retired prosecutor John Doherty told the hearing.

Sister Beth, then 21, who avoided the slaughter because she was living in Hawaii at the time, also opposed Brown’s release.

A police officer at the crime scene in 1978 (old footage via WHDH)

“Although she has since changed her name and is now living in hiding, a prosecutor read a letter from her at the hearing,” WHDH Channel 7 news reported.

“I don’t feel that 40 years is sufficient punishment for what he did. He was adamant they deserved what they got,” she was quoted as writing.

The D.A.’s office said on the evening of Friday, Jan. 27, 1978, Brown, “shot and killed his mother, his 20-year old sister, and his father with the .22-caliber rifle that his parents gave him for Christmas. He then fled his Topsfield home in his father’s car.”

NBC 10 Boston quoted Brown as saying: “I murdered three members of my own family for essentially senseless reasons.”

Brown was chased through Boxford and Middleton (old footage via WHDH)

“I raised the rifle, and he saw the rifle, and he said ‘no’ to me,” Brown recalled of his father. “I shot at him at least twice,” the report said.

“I think it would have been too personal to kill my family with a knife. Truthfully, I think the gun made it easier,” WHDH quoted Brown as saying.

He committed the murders because he was afraid a failing grade in math would get him into trouble at home.

According to a 1998 recount of the murders, the Brown family had returned to America from Japan after Wilfred lost his job in Tokyo. “The move was jarring for the entire family,” the report said.

Both daughters went away to college over their father’s strong objections, but Dorina tried to commit suicide in her freshman year and returned home, the account said.

The Brown family plot at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Danvers (photo by Jack Parker on

After Brown killed his family, he left in his father’s car.

However, he caught the attention of an off-duty police officer, who chased him until he crashed into a tree.

In the police station, cops tried to contact his family until Brown told them not to bother.

Shortly afterwards, the bodies were found.

On February 2, 1979, a jury returned guilty verdicts of first-degree murder on each of the three charges.

The judge sentenced Brown to life without the possibility of parole on each conviction, but ordered the terms to be served concurrently.

Brown told the parole board he has been fighting mental health issues all his life.

The hearing was also told that while Brown attacked a guard in prison and had other angry outbursts, but that he has been on good behavior for the last 20 years.

A decision is expected by the parole board in a few weeks.





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