Crime Wire Radio Investigates 64 Year Old Cold Case
Every Tuesday and Wednesday night shortly before 7 p.m., Edward Flynn, Jr. would take a bus from his home on Harriet Ave in Burlington, Massachusetts, to rehearsal with the St. Joseph’s CYO Championship Band in Medford, Massachusetts. On Wednesday, March 19, 1947, Eddie slipped into his brown leather jacket, picked up the case containing his clarinet and started out.
Eddie never got on the bus, and on March 21, 1947 a man hunting crows in the woods of southern Billerica came upon the naked body of Edward Flynn, Jr. Clad only in shoes and socks, his leather jacket lay across his waist and his pants, white shirt and tie were hanging from a low branch of a pine tree about twenty feet away. He was the victim of a violent sexual assault and died of asphyxiation. Eddie Flynn was 12 years old.
Already waiting at the bus stop, on Winn Street, was a friend of Eddies’, “Ed walked by me,” the boy said later, “and I asked him whether he was going to take the bus and he said he wasn’t. I watched him while he walked a couple of hundred yards to a bend in the road. It was the same route the bus took.” Then he added, “I noticed a car pull up near where he would have been. The car was headed towards me. It stopped for a few seconds and then approached me fast. Its lights blinded me and I couldn’t see who was in it.”
The question was – was Eddie Flynn in that car? The questions the boy could not answer were what color, make and year the car was and he never saw the license plate number.
The body was found, supine, 15 feet off a rough road cut by car wheels. It was eight miles from the Flynn home and in the direction opposite from where he was heading when he left to go to the band rehearsal. Photos were taken of the body and the area in which it lay. Casts were made of what appeared to be fresh tire tracks in the road. The medical examiner, Mason D. Bryant, who viewed the body, estimated the boy had been dead at least 24 hours; he noted only that there were superficial wounds on the face and arranged for an autopsy. From the autopsy came three findings: Flynn had been asphyxiated by a cloth or hands held over his mouth and nose, that the killer was clearly a sexual predator and that the victim fought back. Under the boy’s fingernails were scrapings of skin. The time of death was fixed at no more than three hours after he left his home.
Among LE there was a general agreement that the boy had been slain where he was found, but conceded there was a possibility that the crime had been committed in a nearby cottage unused during the winter. A padlock on its front door showed signs of having been only recently snapped and rather fresh residue was found in the kitchen stove.
Within 24 hours of Eddie’s body being found, police worked around the clock. They talked with those who knew him and with those who had last seen him alive. They stopped more than 100 cars moving along the section where the boy who knew Ed had exchanged a few words with him.
Joseph P. Trioli reported he saw a boy answering the description of Eddie Flynn get into a gray 1936 sedan with darker gray fenders on Winn Street at about 7 p.m. on the night in question.
Another Medford man claimed he rode the bus with Eddie to St. Joseph’s Church that night.
Nineteen days prior to Edwards’s murder, 11-year-old Jacqueline Maxwell of Malden was followed into a field near her home and murdered by Robert Coombs, 17, a Malden sex offender parolee.
The prime suspect in this case is a man by the name of Eugene Leach:
The following is taken from the Boston Record, September 11, l947:
Headline: Remorse Leads Sex Killer of Flynn Boy to Suicide~ Remorse over the fiendish sex slaying last March of 12-year-old Edward J. Flynn, Jr., of Burlington, caused the suicide of his believed slayer, Eugene Leroy Leach, former Billerica farmhand, who took his life by carbon monoxide in Chattanooga, Tenn., last May 8, State Police revealed yesterday. The apparent solving of the brutal crime, which came through a letter Leach wrote to his wife in Weymouth four days before his suicide, has been followed by almost five months' tireless work by State Police to seek the (????) clue to the solution of the murder. In the letter to his wife, Leach said he had been informed by a psychiatrist that he was an incurable sex pervert and added that he had done things of which the law had no knowledge. "I must rid the world of a living danger and certain heartbreak for others lurking in my subconscious mind," he wrote, "especially with relation to things the law knows nothing about." In an effort to locate the unnamed psychiatrist who treated Leach, and who, authorities believe, may have heard his actual confession of the slaying of the Flynn boy, state police here have enlisted the aid of the highway patrol of two southern states.
TOLD TO SURRENDER: State police of both Tennessee and Mississippi, from where Leach wrote the letter to his wife, have been asked to locate the psychiatrist. At the same time, a notice of the case will be inserted in the American Journal of Medicine, widely read by physicians, in the hope it may reach the psychiatrist and cause him to come forward with further information. Leach, in the letter which told of his forthcoming suicide, wrote his wife, "I have come here to think things out. I am using the assumed name of Ian Korvetsky. I put myself at the mercy of a psychiatrist to determine whether or not I was a sex pervert. I told him everything about myself. He determined I was, and that the chances of my cure for sex perversion are remote. He advised me to return to Massachusetts and give myself up. He said I might be put in an institution where I could harm nobody. But I am going to rid the world of a danger and escape my subconscious."
"LONE WOLF" TYPE: State Police Detective Captain Joseph C. Crescio said the letter made no admission of the Flynn crime, but he added that the exhaustive probe made by state police revealed that Leach was a "lone wolf" type who was absent from his quarters in the Tower Farm, Boston Rd., Billerica on the night and at the time of the crime. Investigation showed that Leach left the Billerica farm on April 17, almost a month after the Flynn (??) murder. Although all known sex criminals in Middlesex County are checked, Leach escaped investigation because his sex record was in Norfolk County. He was found guilty of rape on a 16-year-old girl in Quincy in 1943 and sentenced to two and a half years in state prison. Crescio said he had sent Lieutenant Conniff to Tennessee to check the one link which would definitely establish Leach as young Flynn's slayer - the psychiatrist to whom Leach made his confession. The accumulated evidence in the case, (Crescio said) had caused a "strong suspicion" that the suicide had solved the killing. Police said the letter Leach wrote his wife was postmarked from Poplarsville, Miss, on the Tennessee border, and that the psychiatrist might have been a resident of either state.
HAD AUTO ACCIDENT: Mr. and Mrs. John T. Musgrave, operators of the farm where Leach was employed said yesterday the farmhand was involved in an auto accident two days before the Flynn murder. The Musgraves said his license to operate was suspended, pending a prove of the accident and that he had left his work, April 17, without filling out a report and after getting a $20 advance on his pay. Police believe Leach realized he had a sex offense record and that his residence in the vicinity of the Flynn crime would bring him to the attention of authorities and that he decided to leave immediately. The Flynn boy, a brilliant parochial school student, had been missing two nights and a day when his body was found by a hunter on Friday morning, March 21, beneath a Route 4 bridge in Billerica. Most of the clothing had been torn from his bloodstained and violated body. He had been on his way to a band rehearsal at St. Joseph's Church, Medford, and the clarinet case he carried was found near his corpse. The boy was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Flynn of Medford.
One supreme irony remains. Edward Flynn needn’t have gone to the rehearsal that evening. It was called off after the others arrived, for lack of required sheet music.
From John Flynn: [excerpt]
It is 63 plus years and one might ask why we cling to it or pursue such an old memory and why instead don’t we just move on and let it go. I would answer we have for the most part lived our lives and succeeded to a reasonable extent. To let it completely pass and put it to rest probably is not totally possible because that question of what happened and who might have been responsible does not escape the mind totally. Eddie had begun to grow and experience things and give experiences back i.e. his music, his involvement in the band, respect of his peers or in the sacristy at church as an Alter boy, also his contributions at home with his family as a central part. It is only conjecture from here as to what or who he may have become. Potential ambition and character are all mute testament to a creation robbed. Also, for the records or files to be cast aside, lost or incinerated is the truly big dilemma personally for us and even much deeper for our late parents who never could learn anything or find out where the records might be, if they existed, and never for them to be able to recover any personal effects. For all these reasons we have chosen to pursue this to some sort of answer. That answer whatever it is, might not be to our liking or it might be still somewhat inconclusive but at best will be an answer or a conclusion reached. Eddie, or any person deserves that much. No one should be so brutally eliminated and not have some or any public concern carried on for them. I can write these things because I somewhat understand what was taken or stolen on that dark night in March 1947.