10 Years

Deanna Cremin

A mother’s renewed hope for justice
With new technology, authorities strive to solve ’95 slaying of Somerville girl
By Megan Tench, Globe Staff  |  March 30, 2005

Ten years ago, someone strangled 17-year-old Deanna Cremin, leaving her body behind a senior citizen housing complex and stirring fear and anger in her hometown of Somerville. Investigators vowed to catch the killer.

A decade and more than 100 police interviews later, the homicide remains unsolved.

”I want justice,” said Deanna’s mother, Katherine Cremin, sitting alone yesterday inside her apartment in Malden, her face swollen from crying. ”I want it for my daughter.”

There may be hope.

Authorities said yesterday they are closer than they have ever been to finding the person who killed the popular high school junior on March 29, 1995.

The Middlesex district attorney’s office said that new forensic technology has helped authorities make progress in the case and that investigators are looking for specific people who they believe know what happened.

”In the last couple of months, we believe we’ve made some developments on the forensic front,” said Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley.

Coakley declined to provide details about the type of forensic testing that has been done, and she would not say much about any new leads in the case, because the investigation remains active.

”We do believe that a person or people know about this murder and may have seen this murder, and we urge them to come forward,” she said. ”We need help on the witness front. Whoever comes forward would be considered heroes.”

The district attorney’s office also plans to unveil a billboard today on Broadway in Somerville asking for the public’s help in solving the crime and announcing a new reward amount: $20,000, double what it has been up to now.

Still, surrounded yesterday by photographs and memories of her daughter, Katherine Cremin said the latest hint of progress does little to ease the anguish.

”I want them to catch the man who killed my daughter,” she said. ”I believe I know who is the person responsible, but I am not allowed to talk about it. I don’t want to hurt the investigation.”

Since the slaying, Cremin’s life has taken several tragic twists and turns. She lost custody of two of her three other children. She lost her house. She lost her job. She and her husband divorced, and she got hooked on prescription medications.

While she has rebounded in recent years, reconnecting with her family and finding comfort in support groups and counseling, Cremin said the memories of that ill-fated night when Deanna didn’t come home still haunt her.

She said Deanna’s boyfriend was the last to see her daughter on that spring night. The two had walked along Jacques Street in Winter Hill, where they both lived at the time, but unlike other occasions when he would walk Deanna to the door, her boyfriend said that he only walked her halfway and that she continued on her own toward her house.

Cremin said she was worried about where her daughter could be, but talked herself into believing Deanna spent the night out, which she did now and then. ”She was a teenager,” said Cremin, adding that she planned to give her daughter a lecture.

Cremin went to work the next morning. Her husband, Michael Cremin, called the high school to make sure Deanna was in class.

But instead of getting a phone call from her husband saying everything was all right, Cremin received the worst news of her life.

”He just said, ‘You better come home,’ ” Cremin recalled, wiping away tears.

But the news had already spread.

”People were talking about it on the train,” she said. ”I don’t remember breathing. I don’t remember what I said or did. The closer I got to my home, the more State Police cars I saw. I wanted to tell them: ‘I’m Deanna’s mother. What’s going on?’ But I didn’t want to know.”

In the 10 years since, that has changed.

Cremin has made it her mission to know, to find the hands that ended her daughter’s life.

”In the morning, if I wake up and she isn’t the first thing on my mind, I feel the guilt,” she said. ”This isn’t about closure. I will never get over it. This is about justice. My daughter’s killer is out there somewhere.”

Megan Tench can be reached at mtench@globe.com.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

I want them to catch the man who killed my daughter,’’ Katherine Cremin said. ‘‘I believe I know who is the person responsible.’’ (Globe Staff Photo / Dominic Chavez)