Her family entered the courtroom and exchanged handshakes and hugs with Lexington Police past and present. "I'm glad we got here," one of them said.
It was just before noon and just shy of 143 months after the day they lost their daughter, sister and friend. At last, they were here, in Middlesex Superior Court, for a bit of belated justice in the 1992 murder of Kathleen Dempsey.
Craig Conkey, the man authorities say , on Tuesday pleaded guilty to those acts, committedin the early morning hours of Aug. 23, 1992. with the eligibility of parole after 15 years.
Closure didn't come when Conkey, now a twice-convicted killer, left Courtroom 430 shackled with his second life sentence, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said afterwards. A modicum of justice, he said, is what authorities hope was achieved on this day.
And that much was clear when Evelyn Tobin, the mother of Kathleen Dempsey, took the stand to deliver her victim impact statement. Still obviously livid that she's already outlived her daughter by two decades, Tobin refused to sit in the same chair Conkey had sat in.
"I struggled with whether or not to make a statement. I didn't know if I wanted to give this evil murderer the satisfaction of knowing anything about Kathy, or what he did to our family," said Tobin. "This cowardly psychopath entered her house in the dead of night and took her life for no other reason than the thrill of it."
Aug. 23, 1992 – July 3, 2012
By all accounts, they were two very different people going in two very different directions, Kathleen Dempsey and Craig Conkey.
She was a popular freelance graphic designer with a promising future and plans of pursuing her Master's degree at Lesley University and becoming an art teacher and the best aunt she could be. He was an Army veteran who did a stint in Germany and bounced around to various jobs after his honorable discharge.
But both of them, somehow, wound up in Lexington. And on Aug. 23, 1992, their paths crossed in a way that would forever alter dozens of lives.
Suspended from his job flipping burgers at McDonald's in Bedford, Conkey had taken to burglarizing local homes to scrounge up money to buy food and pay his rent.
Kathleen Dempsey's basement apartment was not her killer's first target on the night of her murder. In fact, he told investigators he tried to burgle a different residence prior to arriving at her home, according to evidence presented by Assistant District Attorney Michael Fabbri, the prosecutor for the case.
When he did enter Dempsey's home, Conkey reportedly was caught off guard when he heard her yell out. "Don't hurt me," she said. "Just go. I can't see you."
But that's not what happened. He didn't go. He set upon her and brutally stabbed her 17 times in her neck, chest and back. And then he left her home, taking only her purse, which was found in the woods behind the house in the spring of 1995.
Dempsey didn't immediately succumb to her wounds, however. She managed to call 911, but dispatch bungled the call and her cries for help went unanswered for hours. At 10:46 a.m., responders found her lying dead on her bedroom floor, covered in blood and still clutching the telephone.
The initial investigation into Dempsey's death focused on an ex-boyfriend and expanded outward from there. Conkey only came into focus after the 1994 murder of another Lexington woman, 49-year-old Mary Lou Sale.
As Conkey was in and out of court appealing guilty verdicts in the Sale case, investigators and Dempsey's family members doggedly pursued justice for the woman with the promising life cut short.
In 2009, Conkey pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and one count of armed burglary in the Sale case was sentenced to life in prison at MCI Cedar Junction. By mid-2010, as investigators mounted more forensic evidence in the Dempsey murder, the convicted killer with the pencil-thin moustache and mousy voice started talking.
New investigative techniques and Conkey's own words—reportedly compelled by a desire to get out of Cedar Junction and belief the Apocalypse is imminent—led to a December 2011 indictment on a first-degree murder charge in the Dempsey slaying.
Watch the videos above for reactions to the plea and sentencing from from and .
At his arraignment in January of this year, but later moved to change his plea, prompting his attorney, Bernard Grossberg, to enlist a doctor to evaluate his client, who was .
Twice since March 30 Dr. Prudence Baxter has pronounced . And twice the judge has found the same. In court on Tuesday, Grossberg also said he believed his client competent to plead guilty to his crime.
Although his sentence, which runs concurrent to the life sentence for Sale's murder, includes the eligibility for parole after 15 years, Conkey said he believes he'll spend the rest of his life behind bars.
"In theory, I'll see the Parole Board," Conkey told the judge, "But they'll never parole someone like me."
Leone, the district attorney, also said he's "extremely confident" Conkey will never again see the light of day –although it's unclear which prison's walls he'll be behind.
For Evelyn Tobin, however, life in prison is not the only punishment she envisions for Conkey for taking the life of Kathleen Dempsey. During her impact statement, Tobin dressed down her daughter's murderer, and his fear of the Apocalypse.
"I have news for him," Tobin, the founder of the Garden of Peace memorial in Boston, said from the stand. "Kathy is in Heaven, and there is no way he's going to join her there. God is just, and this sinner is going to feel His vengeance."
DA: Lexington man strangled wife to death, staged her body in car
LEXINGTON, Mass. — The husband of a Lexington woman found dead in a car last Thursday night has been arrested, according to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office.
Officials have been investigating the homicide of Shen Cai, 50, who was found dead last week. On Wednesday evening, police announced Hongyan Sun, 49, had been arrested in connection with her death.
Lexington Police responded to Worthen Road around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday and found Cai unresponsive in a white Honda CRV. She was declared dead at the scene.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled Cai's cause of death as "mechanical asphyxiation."
It was later discovered that Cai and Sun had been going through a divorce, according to the DA.
Police say they also learned of a physical altercation on May 28 and a history of physical and verbal abuse by Sun.
Friends of Cai say that she had concerns for her safety.
Neighbors say they're relieved an arrest has been made, but it's unsettling to know someone accused of this lives right next door to them.
"You never know what’s going on behind people’s front doors, you never know," said neighbor Jane Kramer.
The victim's husband returned to their home on Baskin Road Friday evening wearing hospital clothes and had cuts on his hand. He was driving the same kind of car that the victim's body was found in.
When asked about what kind of woman his wife was, Sun had a simple answer.
"She's [a] great lady, that's it," he said. "She's my wife."
"The investigation suggests that after the struggle in their home, Ms. Cai’s body was allegedly staged and left in her vehicle on Worthen Road in an apparent attempt to mislead law enforcement," a release from the Middlesex County District Attorneys Office states.
On Wednesday, police went door-to-door notifying neighbors about the arrest in the case, putting many concerns at ease.
"I know the district attorney said that there's no reason for concern, but how can you not be concerned... there was a murder here," said neighbor Ken Kaitin.
The investigation is ongoing and being conducted by the Middlesex DA, Lexington PD and the State Police Detective Unit.
Sun was ordered held without bail on Thursday. He is due back in court on July 30.
Release: Middlesex DA, local police investigating the homicide of Lexington woman
Cox Media Group
Crime rate in Lexington, Massachusetts (MA): murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, arson, law enforcement employees, police officers, crime map
According to our research of Massachusetts and other state lists, there were 2 registered sex offenders living in Lexington, Massachusetts as of October 14, 2021.
The ratio of all residents to sex offenders in Lexington is 16,701 to 1.
The ratio of registered sex offenders to all residents in this city is much lower than the state average.
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Full-time law enforcement employees in 2019, including police officers: 63 (46 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.36|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2018, including police officers: 63 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.38|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2017, including police officers: 59 (44 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.30|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2016, including police officers: 61 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.40|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2015, including police officers: 62 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.40|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2014, including police officers: 63 (48 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.45|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2013, including police officers: 63 (48 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.47|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2012, including police officers: 63 (48 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.50|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2011, including police officers: 61 (46 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.46|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2010, including police officers: 61 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.53|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2009, including police officers: 61 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.53|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2008, including police officers: 61 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.55|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2007, including police officers: 61 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.56|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2006, including police officers: 61 (47 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.55|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2005, including police officers: 55 (42 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.38|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2004, including police officers: 55 (44 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.45|
Full-time law enforcement employees in 2003, including police officers: 44 (39 officers).
|Officers per 1,000 residents here:||1.28|
Zip codes:02420, 02421.
His lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., has said in court papers that Sun “intends to clear his name at trial.”
But in their filing, Middlesex prosecutors portrayed Sun, the father of a 14-year-old son from a prior marriage, as a controlling spouse who lashed out at Cai in the midst of divorce proceedings.
“During the course of the marriage the defendant became increasingly verbally abusive and controlling, including installed [sic] hidden cameras in the home to monitor her activities without her knowledge,” wrote Assistant District Attorney Suzanne M. Wiseman in the filing.
Wiseman wrote that Sun “also started siphoning the victim’s money from her private and their joint accounts into his private accounts.”
In addition, Wiseman wrote, there was at least one incident of prior physical abuse, and Sun used Cai’s immigration status as a means to control her.
Cai told a friend days before her slaying that if she was found dead “it would be a homicide, not a suicide,” Wiseman said. Two days before her body was discovered, Cai met with a new divorce attorney who advised her “of a more aggressive approach to her divorce,” Wiseman wrote.
Sun admitted to getting into a fight with Cai the night of her meeting with the lawyer, Wiseman said, and police observed “numerous injuries” on his body “consistent with a significant physical struggle.”
Cai’s body was found in her vehicle on Worthen Road in Lexington early on the morning of May 30. The state medical examiner’s office ruled her death a homicide by mechanical asphyxiation, according to court records.
Investigators also learned that Sun arrived late to work on May 30, giving him time to “place the victim’s vehicle with her body staged as found on the public street by their residence,” Wiseman wrote. “It was also determined that there was evidence of the defendant’s efforts to clean up the crime scene at the house, and later attempt to dispose of shoes that were determined to have blood on them.”
Carney, a prominent defense attorney whose client roster has included notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, declined to comment Friday on Wiseman’s filing.
But in a separate court filing in which he sought bail for Sun, Carney described his client as a “dedicated family man” who is “extremely proud” of his teenage son.
“Dr. Sun has always lived a law-abiding life,” Carney wrote. “Dr. Sun is grieving the sudden and unexpected death of his wife, and the allegations against him have shocked and deeply saddened him.”
Carney said he has received “an outpouring” of support for his client from community members, which he said was “especially rare” for a murder defendant in a pending case.
“The letters . . . provide powerful evidence of Dr. Sun’s mild, steady, and calm character,” Carney wrote.
Among those who wrote letters of support were Sun’s first wife, Yanmei Liu, and Jun Liu, a statistics professor at Harvard University, according to Carney.
Yanmei Liu, Carney said, wrote in her letter that when she and Sun were divorcing, Sun “recognized their differences” and tried to work with her for the best interests of their son. Sun’s former wife also described him as a “dedicated and supportive father.”
Jun Liu called Sun “good-tempered” and “considerate,” the filing said.
Prior to Sun’s tenure at Yintech — where he conducted research on artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and derivatives — he held positions at Lucent Technologies, Kuberre Systems, Ameriprise Financial Inc., and Charles River Development, records show.
The next hearing in the case is slated for Dec. 17. A trial date hasn’t been set.
Travis Andersen can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
Ma murders lexington
A Lexington woman was found dead in a car on the side of the road by her friends after she told them she was concerned for her safety.
Shen Cai, 49, died of “multiple blunt trauma,” according to an autopsy by the medical examiner. Investigators described the trauma as “suspicious.” This is the first homicide case in Lexington since 1994. She had a daughter, a husband and a stepson.
Cai was found Thursday morning around 12:30 a.m. in a white Honda CRV registered to her family on Worthen Road near Lexington High School, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. Her friends searched for her for hours before they found her and then called the police.
She was last seen on May 28 by her friends and husband.
“Her friends became concerned because she missed at least two scheduled appointments and because Ms. Cai had previously reported to them — to her friends — that she had concerns about her safety,” Ryan said during a press conference Friday. “Based on our preliminary investigation, this does not appear to be a random act.”
Police were not previously notified about her concerns for her safety, according to Ryan. Ryan said “we are very early in the investigation” when asked if the husband also had concern for her safety, if he is cooperating with the investigation and if he is a suspect. She said there were no prior police reports of “violent episodes.”
“We will continue to work very closely with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office as well as the Massachusetts State Police on this investigation,” Lexington police Chief Mark Corr said. “We are confident at this time that the community is not at risk in any manner as a result of this incident.”
The Lexington, Massachusetts man charged with the murder of his wife, who was found dead in her car a week ago, was ordered held without bail at his arraignment Thursday morning.
Hongyan Sun, 50, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of his wife, 49-year-old Shen Cai. The victim's body was found on May 30 in the driver's seat of her SUV, which was parked near Lexington High School.
Prosecutors said in court Thursday that Sun strangled his wife after a fight at their Lexington home on May 28 and then staged her body in her vehicle to mislead investigators. They also said he used hidden cameras to spy on his wife in the days before her death.
Sun's attorney, Melinda Thompson, said her client is still processing the situation.
"He's just sort of shocked, and again, just learning the facts, so we don't really know where this goes from here," she said.
After his wife's body was found last week, Sun told NBC10 Boston he didn't know what happened to her.
"Don't ask me," he told NBC10 Boston as he returned home from the hospital. "I can't tell anything. I don't want to do any more damage to anybody, OK?"
Prosecutors said before Sun was arrested, he purchased a plane to China and was planning to fly there in the coming days.
Police learned of Cai's death after they responded to a call from several of the victim's friends. They had been searching for her after they became concerned that she missed two scheduled appointments. They later found her unresponsive in the car and called 911.
Cai was pronounced dead at the scene, and prosecutors said investigators initially observed some suspicious trauma. An autopsy was conducted, and the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide by mechanical asphyxiation.
The autopsy found injuries "consistent with a violent struggle and being strangled to death," court documents said. The tip of Sun's finger was bitten off during the struggle with his wife, according to police. They said he tried to conceal the injury with bandages. According to the police report, Sun threw away his bloody shoes at work and attempted to clean up the crime scene.
Prosecutors said Sun and Cai were going through a divorce and she previously told friends and her attorney about a history of controlling behavior and verbal abuse. She also told friends about an instance of physical violence and that she worried about her own safety.
Court documents show that shortly before Cai died, she told a friend that "if she ever was found dead, it would be a homicide not a suicide."
She also said her husband had threatened to kill both her and her daughter from a previous marriage.
Sun's next scheduled court date is on July 30.
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Lexington man accused of murder arraigned, pleads not guilty
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Hongyan Sun, the Lexington man accused of killing his wife in May, was arraigned at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn on Tuesday. He has been charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of his wife, Shen Cai. At the arraignment, Sun appeared in a separate room, behind a glass window. He officially entered a not guilty plea.
Sun has been held without bail since he was arrested on June 5. His lawyer, J.W. Carney, stated that Sun was not currently asking for bail to be posted. In August, Sun requested to be released on $25,000 bail, which was denied based on his potential danger to the community, court records showed. Carney is known for defending high-profile clients, including notorious crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.
Sun will next appear in Lowell Superior Court on Dec. 17.
Cai was initially found unresponsive in a car on Worthen Road on May 30. After an investigation, police determined that Cai was allegedly killed in a violent struggle in the couple’s home on Baskin Road by mechanical asphyxiation. Cai fought for her life, biting part of Sun’s finger off and leaving other marks, Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Wiseman said at Sun’s first arraignment in June. Sun then allegedly left Cai’s body in a white car nearby, in an apparent staging attempt designed to mislead authorities.
The bite mark on Sun’s finger and other injuries were visible when he appeared in June. Blood was found on Sun’s clothes, Wiseman said. Biological evidence consistent with a violent struggle was also found in the couple’s home.
Sun has maintained his innocence since late May.
“I can’t tell anything. I don’t even know the details of what happened. She’s a great lady,” Sun told reporters from Wicked Local media partner WCVB-TV in June before he was arrested.
Cai allegedly had told her friends that she feared for her safety in the days before she died. Cai and her husband were in the process of finalizing a contentious divorce, and there was a history in the relationship of verbal and physical violence, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office.
Both Lexington and the state are treating this as a domestic violence case. Over the summer, Director of Human Services Melissa Interess and her department hosted a community conversation at Cary Hall, where residents were encouraged to share their thoughts on the incident and learn more about domestic violence. Homicide cases are rare in Lexington, as the last time the town saw a violent crime like this was in 1994.
Before this incident, the town was already working to increase awareness about domestic violence, Interess said. The Lexington human services department can provide emotional support for those in abusive relationships, she said, as well as connect them with Domestic Violence professionals who are trained to help.
People in a dangerous domestic violence situation can call the state’s toll-free hotline at (877) 785-2020.
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