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Sudbury weighs combining school superintendents' offices

Posted December 15, 2008 10:00 PM

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Correspondent

A proposal on the floor of the board of selectmen introduced at a meeting Monday calls for Sudbury Public Schools and Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School to combine superintendents' offices, saving a projected $1.05 million to brace for what officials are calling a potentially devastating coming fiscal year.

The proposal would have a single administrator assume responsibility for both the Sudbury K-8 school system and the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School next year, after current Lincoln-Sudbury superintendent John Ritchie retires.

"We are halfway through a very difficult fiscal ear, we are halfway to what can be a very devastating one," said Sudbury Finance Committee member Robert N. Jacobson.

The two school district's school committees would remain intact and separate under the plan.

The consolidation would form what's called a Superintendency Union, under which two or more school districts operate under agreement with a single top level administrator. Twenty such unions exist in Massachusetts, including Concord-Carlisle and Dover Sherborn.

The proposal would cut 10 total non-teaching jobs from the school systems. The proposal is part of several cuts being discussed by the Sudbury Budget Review Task Force, assembled last spring by town meeting voters to look at ways to make the town's budget more efficient.

John Guilfoil can be reached at

Big Sudbury rental project put on hold

Posted October 3, 2008 05:47 PM

AvalonBay has backed away from plans for a 200-unit residential rental community with 50 units of affordable housing on former farm land in Sudbury that had angered local residents, town officials said.

AvalonBay Communities of Alexandria, Va., said August 26 that it had a binding purchase and sale agreement to acquire the land adjacent to a house at 189 Landham Road, but the notified the town this week that they would not carry though with their plans, said Jody Kablack, Sudbury's director of planning and community development

Kablack said that a Michael Roberts from AvalonBay notified her of the company's decision. A spokesman for AvalonBay could not be reached for comment.

The land was owned by Eric and Marian Johnson. Eric died in January 2007 at age 91. Three months before his death, the town's Community Preservation Committee offered him $600,000 for the land, but a deal was never reached. Marian died in February at age 85.

The proposal angered residents and would have put up a 13-building development scattered over the 35-acre parcel. Twenty-five percent of the units would have been affordable housing.

A 2006 Sudbury Community Preservation Committee project submission form researched by the Globe shows town tried to buy the land for $600,000 at the time. They had proposed an eight-unit affordable housing project on a single acre at the front of the property.

-- John M. Guilfoil

Sudbury police look for suspect in sexual assault

Posted September 25, 2008 06:55 PM

Police are on the hunt in Sudbury, armed with a composite sketch and possible vehicle description after a resident was sexually assaulted in the quiet western suburb Wednesday night.

The attack occurred at the Longfellow Glen apartment complex on Boston Post Road/Rt. 20, police said.


The victim was going into her building's laundry room at about 10:40 p.m. when a man approached her and attacked her, said Sudbury police Lt. Scott Nix.

The victim called police and was taken to an area hospital for treatment and examination. Yesterday she spoke with police and provided details for a composite sketch, which was released to the public.

The suspect was described as a white, approximately 25-30 years old, 6' - 6'2" with buzz cut sandy blond hair. He was wearing a blue t-shirt, jeans, and a black baseball cap. Police said the victim did not know her attacker.

The victim told police she had gone for a walk on Boston Post Road earlier that evening and noticed a shiny, black Ford pickup truck following her. She said the suspect may have been driving the truck, with has a large dent in the driver's door.

Police are warning area residents to be careful walking alone, especially as the early nights of fall and winter seasons arrive.

"People should take due diligence and be aware of their surroundings," Nix said. "People should be cautious and report anything suspicious as soon as possible."

The Globe does not name victims of sexual assault.

There are three level 2 and no level 3 sex offenders living in Sudbury, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety.

Authorities would not say whether the woman was raped, saying they did not want to release details of the attack at this stage of the investigation. Nix said the department would be coordinating the investigation with the Middlesex District Attorney's Office.

Rapes and sexual assaults are rare in the community, 20 miles west of Boston. There have been four total sex crimes in 2008 in Sudbury, Nix said. The last reported sexual assault in town was in April.

Longfellow Glen is the only privately-owned rental community in Sudbury. The multi-unit complex has about 300 rental units, according to town officials

The Lincoln Police Department assisted in the case by providing a police sketch artist. Anyone with information is asked to call Sudbury Police at 978-443-1042.

-- John M. Guilfoil

Westborough woman indicted for embezzling more than $220,000 from Sudbury greenhouse

Posted June 23, 2008 11:14 AM

A Westborough woman has been indicted for allegedly embezzling more than $220,000 from her former employer in a ghost employee scam, state and local prosecutors said.

Eda Vivar, 44, was indicted on larceny charges Friday, according to the office of State Attorney General Martha Coakley.

The indictment alleges that Vivar, while employed as a Human Resource Payroll and Benefits Administrator at Cavicchio Greenhouse, Inc., of Sudbury, defrauded the company's payroll system by siphoning the salaries of two non-existent two employees into her personal bank accounts. As a result of this scheme, Vivar allegedly stole funds totaling $220,615.25, the indictment alleges.

The alleged fraud was initially detected by an in-house audit conducted by Cavicchio Greenhouse, Inc. in June 2005, prosecutors said. An arraignment date has not yet been scheduled.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Sudbury woman indicted in crash that killed fiance

Posted May 26, 2008 08:07 AM

A Sudbury woman has been indicted for negligent motor vehicle homicide in the wake of a Feb. 23 crash that killed her fiance, prosecutors said.

Anna M. Bentley was indicted Thursday for the crash that killed 53-year-old Peter M. Cannistraro. A passenger in Bentley's car, Cannistraro was killed when she crashed into another vehicle on Rt. 117 in Lincoln, according to a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone.

Prosecutors declined to provide more details about the charges pending Bentley's arraignment, which is expected to occur sometime during the next several weeks.

-- John M. Guilfoil

Shoemaker runs onto Wheaties' cover

Posted May 8, 2008 02:20 PM



Jarrod Shoemaker's appearance at the Beijing Olympics this summer was assured when he became the first man selected to the 2008 United States Olympic Triathlon Team.

Before he ever gets to China, though, the 25-year-old Sudbury native will appear on the cover of Wheaties -- “The Breakfast of Champions” -- which is coming out with a new, limited-edition package that features the former Lincoln-Sudbury Regional and Dartmouth College track star.

Shoemaker is a fierce competitor and credits his amazing success in triathlon to a combination of raw talent and personal drive.

He turned professional after competing in just four triathlons in 2003. Within two years Jarrod had won the Under 23 Nationals and World Championship. He qualified for the USA Triathlon's National Elite Team in 2006 and has racked up nine top 10 finishes in the past two years.

Last fall, Shoemaker completed an even more amazing feat by becoming the first member of the USA Triathlon Men's Team competing in the games in Beijing this summer. Now his sights are set on the Hy-Vee ITU World Cup in Des Moines, Iowa in June - the largest prize purse in professional triathlon competition.

"It's a great honor for me to be on the cover of the Wheaties box and to join the remarkable list of great athletes who have appeared on the package," Shoemaker said. "Every athlete dreams about one day seeing themselves on the cover of the 'Breakfast of Champions' package."

The new 15.6-ounce Wheaties package will only be available in Iowa and Boston.

-- Craig Larson

Sudbury Town Meeting approves major land conservation measure

Posted April 8, 2008 11:09 PM


Sudbury's Town Meeting funded 10 Community Preservation Act warrant articles last night, spending about $10 million in the process.

The largest expenditure was a $7.5 million payment to preserve and maintain over 300 acres of open space known as the Nobscot Scout Reservation, which straddles the Framingham border.

With the vote, residents are allowing the town to seek 20-year bonds for a permanent conservation restriction on the land, which is one of the largest open parcels in the western suburbs. The move was a victory for preservationists in the region who were seeking to avoid commercial and residential development on the land.

Jody Kablack, Sudbury's director of planning and community development, said the land will be used for passive recreation activities like nature trails, hiking and cross-country skiing. The landscape is made up of waterfalls, ponds, small caves, and wetlands, and is home to a diverse wildlife population, including foxes, owls, deer, and turtles.

Town meeting also spent $2,300 to help preserve historic town documents, $47,000 to restore windows at town hall, $750,000 for community housing, and $10,000 for an archaeological survey of the Military Training Field on Old County Road.

Members also approved $400,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to buy about 10 acres of railroad right of way running south from Union Avenue to the Framingham line from the CSX Corp. The state provided a $247,000 grant for the land, which would probably be used for trails and road extension.

Two more CPA articles remain on the agenda for a third night of town meeting tomorrow.

Sudbury cuts unveiled

Posted April 7, 2008 10:04 PM

With town meeting opting to make no changes to the non-override budget, all of the town-wide budget cuts will be made unamended as reported in Sunday's Globe West.

That means that even with the additional $225,000 Sudbury K-8 schools will receive, cuts will include:
* At least 10 full time teaching and staff positions in the Lincoln-Sudbury School District;
* At least 21 full time teaching and staff positions in the Sudbury K-8 School District, including funding for 7.5 classroom teachers, 4 music/art/language teachers, seven teaching assistants, and two secretaries, and;
* Two current vacancies on the police department that will not be filled.

Police officer and firefighter overtime budgets will also be cut.

In an effort to curb some of the fallout in the schools, the town's finance committee said that fees will rise across the board.

In Sudbury K-8 schools, bus fees will nearly double, while sports fees and student activity fees will also rise dramatically. In the Lincoln-Sudbury School District, student parking fees will go from $200 to $280 next year, the activities fee will go from $35 to $45, and the athletics fee will rise from $165 to $200.

-- John Guilfoil

Sudbury Town Meeting approves $75 million budget

Posted April 7, 2008 09:10 PM

In the wake of two override proposals failing at last week's town elections, the Sudbury Town Meeting tonight approved a budget of $75,552,508.

Even though the two override proposals (one for $1.8 million and one for $2.8 million) failed, the budget approved was still $400,000 more than town officials had previously announced. Officials said that the town received additional ambulance revenues and increased state aid.

Officials said that $225,000 of the additional funds will be earmarked for the Sudbury Public Schools, which would have received $1 million from the overrides if they had passed.

-- John Guilfoil

Lincoln-Sudbury principal sings tune for grads

Posted June 8, 2007 11:42 AM

(Globe archives)


Last night's graduation ceremony at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School had its heavy moments, with remembrances of the Jan. 19 fatal stabbing of a freshman on campus.

But superintendent and principal John M. Ritchie also wanted to make sure students were able to enjoy their graduation.

So, before they received their diplomas, Ritchie surprised the audience by pulling out his guitar and asking one of the students to join him in singing his interpretation of Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," whose lyrics begin: "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run."

The principal's rendition paid tribute to the class' role as the last to have had classes in both the school's old building and its new digs, which opened in 2004. Graduating senior Nia K. Ferguson joined him in singing his added lyrics.

"We learned that what matters most is the humans, not the bricks."

And the last line.

"Just go out there and do your best, and that's our last command."

-- John C. Drake

*Read today's story: Lincoln-Sudbury grads look ahead, past tragedy

Smerlas won't take the field in race for Congress

Posted April 26, 2007 04:32 PM


Fred Smerlas, the former NFL player who lives in Sudbury, said he wouldn't toss his hat into the ring for the congressional seat being vacated by Representative Martin Meehan.

Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan also said he wouldn't run.

Both said they would support the candidacy of Air Force Lt. Col. James Ogonowski, whose brother was the pilot of a plane flown into the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ogonowski, a Republican political novice, announced Tuesday that he's running and said his brother's death weighed heavily in his decision.

Both Smerlas and Sullivan said they weren't forced out by state Republicans.

"No one tells me what to do," the former NFL lineman said, saying the campaign would take a toll on his family.

"I have faith in Jim. I believe in this guy," Smerlas said, though he added he's not met him in person.

Ogonowski is the only announced Republican candidate. Six Democrats have announced they intend to run.

-- AP

Program attended by alleged Lincoln-Sudbury killer will close

Posted March 29, 2007 11:23 AM


The special education program attended by John Odgren, the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School sophomore accused of stabbing to death a classmate in January, will be eliminated at the end of the school year.

The Great Opportunities program has been offered for 15 years and has typically served seven to nine students a year.

John M. Ritchie, the Lincoln-Sudbury superintendent and school principal, insisted that the decision to end the program was not prompted by the stabbing. Instead, he said, the board of directors for the Concord Area Special Education Collaborative, which runs Great Opportunities, decided to drop the program because its three current participants are graduating and no other students have applied.

"Independent of anything that happened this year, there will not be a GO program at L-S next year," he told the School Committee at a meeting Tuesday night. "It's leaving because of attrition and economics, not for any other reason."

Read more in today's Boston Globe.

-- Kristen Green

Principal: 'extra step' not taken before stabbing

Posted March 28, 2007 09:07 AM


The principal and superintendent of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School said yesterday that school personnel who confiscated weapons last year from a sophomore accused of stabbing another student to death in January should have taken an additional step to report it to authorities.

John M. Ritchie told the school board in a meeting last night that he didn't think that there was "flagrant neglect, disregard for the welfare of the school, or irresponsible ignoring of school policy."

Still, he said, "Some additional effort had to be made that wasn't made to determine whether this was a pattern, to call it to someone's attention, to determine whether it was completely innocent."

"That was where people did not execute reasonable expectation on my part," Ritchie said. "I think that in a school setting with safety being of paramount concern to us, an extra step had to be taken."

Ritchie did not single out any school staff, and he declined to say whether disciplinary action would be taken, citing confidentiality.

John Odgren, 16, has been arraigned on first-degree murder charges in the death of James Alenson, 15. On Monday, a state-hired psychologist testified in court that Odgren is competent to stand trial.

The Globe has previously reported that Odgren showed a pocketknife and a toy gun to a psychologist on two different occasions last year.

In both instances, the psychologist confiscated the weapons and then gave them back to Odgren on the same day, according to Sudbury Police Chief Peter Fadgen.

Ritchie has said he was not told of either incident, but Fadgen has said the psychologist did report the information to his supervisor.

Ritchie has said the psychologist was employed by the Concord Area Special Education Collaborative, a separate program that placed him at Lincoln-Sudbury. Odgren was technically a student in that program.

-- Kristen Green

Lincoln-Sudbury's Ritchie gets strong support

Posted March 27, 2007 12:22 PM


A group of parents of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School students stood behind John M. Ritchie, superintendent-principal of the school, in a letter to the editor recently.

Globe West reported March 18 that some parents were voicing concerns that school officials had been slow to make changes to improve safety after the Jan. 19 slaying of a student at the school.

The 188 parents who signed the letter said there was another side to the story that the Globe hadn't explored.

The letter reads:

We, the undersigned members of the Lincoln Sudbury community, find it unacceptable that The Boston Globe printed the article "Parents Seek Action On Safety Measures" on March 18 based on a letter sent to the school board by a mere eight parents.

We respect the right of every parent to express his or her opinion, but we believe the tenor of any journalistic article should be balanced by the facts. Lincoln Sudbury has over 1,600 students and likely over 3,000 parents. As such, the letter represents a mere fraction of the parent community, certainly well below one percent.

It is irresponsible to make the article so one-sided and only serves to foster a sense of divisiveness in our community at a time when respect, unity and specific facts about what actually happened are most needed.

To be clear, many of us in the Lincoln Sudbury community are concerned. We believe that mistakes were likely made. We further believe that changes at Lincoln-Sudbury or in the CASE Great Opportunities special education program will be required. However, we steadfastly believe that there is likely no change that could have been made to prevent with 100 percent certainty the murder at our high school on Jan. 19.

But most importantly, we wish to make it clear that for the undersigned, Dr. Ritchie and the entire staff at Lincoln Sudbury have our steadfast support.

The letter was written by Doug McCartney.

"Dr. Ritchie has done a fabulous job over the last 10 years, and we have no reason to question his commitment or ability," McCartney said.

McCartney said he used a high school parent email list to ask people if they wanted to sign onto his letter, receiving a strong response from parents and graduates.

-- Adam Sell

The joy of victory

Posted March 13, 2007 02:57 PM



Lincoln-Sudbury's Brittany Phillips and teammate Sarah Wetmore celebrate their 56-34 girls' basketball victory yesterday over Bishop Feehan in the EMass Division 2 final at the Garden. Globe staff photographer Jim Davis caught the celebration after the buzzer.

Lincoln-Sudbury suspect brought knife and fake gun to school prior to stabbing incident that killed classmate

Posted March 3, 2007 06:33 AM

(AP photo by Elise Amendola)


A Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School sophomore who is accused of stabbing a classmate to death in January brought a pocketknife and fake handgun to school on separate occasions last fall and did not face disciplinary action, despite showing the items to a psychologist at the school, the Sudbury police chief said yesterday.

In both cases, the psychologist confiscated the items from John Odgren, 16, but returned them to the boy by the end of the school day, said Sudbury Police Chief Peter Fadgen, according to a story in today's Globe by Globe West correspondent Kristen Green and reporter Patricia Wen.

Fadgen said he believes that John M. Ritchie, who is both the principal of the high school and superintendent of the regional school district, was not told of either incident, but that the psychologist did report the information to his supervisor. The chief declined to name the psychologist and said he did not know whether the psychologist was employed by the school district or another agency.

Fadgen said that under state law, the school is required to report children who bring weapons to school to local police. "I was alarmed that even a folding knife . . . was taken and then given back to him at the end of the day," Fadgen said. "I thought it was an improper way to handle it."

Ritchie did not return phone calls to his office yesterday. But in an e-mail to parents late yesterday afternoon, he said that on Monday "it became clear to me that there was some substance to this allegation" about the knife and toy gun.

"We are investigating this matter thoroughly and will report as completely as possible as soon as we are able to do so," he said in the e-mail.

A Lincoln-Sudbury School Committee member, Jack Ryan, said yesterday that Ritchie notified the panel in a closed session this week that he had learned about a week earlier that Odgren had brought a pocketknife to school last year. Ryan said Ritchie told the committee that he and other top school officials are investigating why they were not told last fall of Odgren's confiscated items. School policy requires that a student found with a weapon face a disciplinary hearing.

"Obviously, incidents like that should be reported," Ryan said. ". . . We have to find out what the circumstances were."

-- Kristen Green and Patricia Wen

Sudbury website wins honors

Posted March 2, 2007 10:54 AM


Sudbury was one of 41 cities and towns whose website was recognized by the Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government, a project of Common Cause, for posting essential information which allows local government and its residents to better interact.

The town met the criteria of posting its Board of Selectmen agenda and minutes, budget information, general bylaws, and Town Meeting warrant and results. The town will be recognized in a ceremony at 1 p.m. March 15 in Nurses Hall at the State House.

-- Kristen Green

Teen indicted in Lincoln-Sudbury slaying

Posted March 1, 2007 06:40 PM


The Lincoln-Sudbury High School sophomore accused of fatally stabbing a fellow student in January has been indicted on charges of first degree murder, the Middlesex District Attorney's office said today.

John Odgren, 16, of Princeton, is scheduled to be arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on Tuesday, when prosecutors plan to provide more details about the attack, said Corey Welford, spokesman for District Attorney Gerry T. Leone Jr.

In a prepared statement, the district attorney's office described the attack as "planned" and "unprovoked." Welford declined to more specific.

Odgren is accused of coming to the high school on Jan. 19 with a knife and attacking James Alenson, 15, in a boys bathroom. Alenson was found lying on his stomach and pronounced dead at Emerson Hospital.

-- Maria Cramer

Parents, advocates hope for more special ed funding after Lincoln-Sudbury slaying

Posted February 4, 2007 01:17 PM


In the wake of the stabbing death of a Lincoln-Sudbury High School student, allegedly by a Princeton student with Asperger syndrome, parents and advocates are hoping that increased awareness about the condition will lead to an infusion of money into the special education budgets of Massachusetts school systems.

John Odgren, 16, of Princeton is charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 19 attack on James Alenson, 15, in a boys’ bathroom at the school.

“I think one of the problems sometimes you see in a school system is a child with Asperger’s may do well academically, and so some of the schools don’t really understand the need for children who are very bright to also have the social and communications skills they’re going to need later on in life. It’s a hidden disability,” Dania Jekel, director of the Watertown-based Asperger’s Association of New England said.

-- Telegram Gazette of Worcester

Task force to search for answers in Lincoln-Sudbury slaying

Posted January 25, 2007 02:48 PM

Superintendent and Principal John Ritchie wrote a letter to parents at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School saying he was ready for "tough questions" about last Friday’s fatal stabbing at school.
(Globe Staff Photo by Janet Knott)


Principal John Ritchie plans tonight to announce the formation of a team of town officials, school administrators, and local police to review last week's fatal stabbing at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School that left one student dead and another facing a first-degree murder charge.

Ritchie, who is also superintendent of the regional high school system, sent a letter home to parents that said that the school must, "review this tragedy, and determine what we need to, or can, learn from it."

Officials plan to make the announcement at a community meeting that will include school committee members, public safety officials, and Middlesex District Attorney Gerald T. Leone Jr. The meeting, at 7:30 p.m. at the high school auditorium in Sudbury, promises to bring difficult questions about school safety and early warning signs the accused killer may have shown when he attended Caldwell Alternative School in Fitchburg.

"Don't hold back your questions, even if they are tough ones," Ritchie wrote in the letter to parents. He added: "I don't view people asking tough questions of us, or wanting answers, or wanting to know clearly what steps we are planning on taking, or expressing anger, as being unsupportive.

"It is natural, understandable," Ritchie continued. "I -- as a parent myself -- would feel I'm sure many of the same fears and doubts as you may be feeling after what happened on Friday."

Prosecutors charged 16-year-old John Odgren with first-degree murder after they allege he stabbed James F. Alenson, 15, in a bathroom at Lincoln-Sudbury early last Friday morning. Odgren pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The community and the students have rallied together, Ritchie told parents in the letter, and have leaned on each other.

"In profound ways, your children have helped me and us get through these past days, and I am deeply sorry that they have had to deal with something that no one should have to deal with," the letter says.

Regardless, Ritchie wrote that the school needs to examine its programs, policies, practices, and procedures with "unblinking eyes to determine what, if anything we've learned, and what we can or should do differently."

-- Andrew Ryan

Emotions run high as Lincoln-Sudbury Regional reopens

Posted January 22, 2007 01:54 PM

Lincoln-Sudbury Superintendent John M. Ritchie meets with the media.
(Globe staff photo by Janet Knott)


Students broke into a spontaneous and sustained applause today inside Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School auditorium, the first gathering since last week's murder of a student by a classmate inside a school bathroom.

"It wasn't for me," school Superintendent John M. Ritchie said to reporters, referring to the applause. "They wanted the school to feel they really love the place."

Last Friday, 16-year-old sophomore John Odgren allegedly stabbed fellow student, 15-year-old James Alenson, to death in a bathroom. Odgren is charged with first degree murder as an adult, has pleaded not guilty and is currently being held in a Department of Youth Services facility in Plymouth. His defense attorney, Jonathan Shapiro, has said Odgren was taking medications for a Asperger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, and hyperactivity.

Police kept reporters off school grounds this morning, but officials met with the media. The press conference included the police chiefs of Sudbury and Lincoln.

Without going into specifics, Ritchie was skeptical of claims by students that Odgren had spoken of a desire to commit violence. He suggested the school staff did not hear of that kind of information before last Friday. "Who knows what he said to other students,'' Ritchie said.

Ritchie said he expects the school's security policy and its involvement in the special needs program utilized by Odgren to be closely scrutinized, a process he said he welcomes and supports. "It's totally expected for people to have questions, concerns and fears," he said.

Ritchie said attendance appeared close to normal for the 1,600 student body and that grief counselors, parents and police officers were spread throughout the school's campus. He described the mood as "somber ... right now, we are into grieving."

As he walked the halls, Ritchie said he was frequently embraced by students. "I've gotten more hugs today," he said. "I'm glad I am not germophobic."

Dismissal will be at the regular time today and a regular class schedule is planned for Tuesday. He said the school is still trying to figure how when to begin mid-term exams, originally set for this Thursday.

-- John R. Ellement

Listen to an audio clip of a classmate describing murder suspect John Odgren

Posted January 20, 2007 02:17 PM


Classmates yesterday described 16-year-old murder suspect John Odgren as a social outcast who seemed obsessed with violent crime and weapons and whose questions and comments managed to seen inappropriate even in a class about crime scene forensics at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

Odgren, who called himself "Jack" at school, sometimes wore trench coats and a fedora and small, round black sunglasses indoors. He appeared to have few friends, but would boast that he had a collection of weapons and that he knew about internet sites were weapons could be purchased, said a classmate, 16-year-old junior Brianna Hodge.

Listen to an audio clip of Brianna Hodge describing John Odgren.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Update: DA reassures Lincoln-Sudbury school community school is safe

Posted January 20, 2007 12:46 PM


Middlesex district attorney Gerard Leone says he told parents and students gathered at the school today that yesterday's slaying at the school was an isolated incident and the school is safe.

"There's no reason to believe, based on everything we know, that this isn't a safe school," he said, after meeting with about 200 parents and students this morning.

Grief counselors were on hand at the school to help people cope with the incident. Another meeting will be held tomorrow.

John Odgren, 16, of Princeton is facing a murder charge in the killing of James Alenson, 15, at the school yesterday at about 7:20 a.m. after an argument erupted in the boys' bathroom.

-- Brian Ballou

Crisis counseling offered after Lincoln-Sudbury slaying

Posted January 20, 2007 10:38 AM


Crisis counselors are meeting with Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School students and their parents this morning, a day after a 16-year-old student allegedly brought a long knife to school and fatally stabbed another student.

The students and parents walked past a makeshift of memorial candles on the ground in front of the school and a sign on the front entrance that read "In Memory of James Alenson -- Our Thoughts Are With You and Your Family."

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone was expected to give a brief speech to the assemblage.

John Odgren, of Princeton, is facing a murder charge in the killing of the 15-year-old Alenson, which happened at about 7:20 a.m. yesterday after an argument erupted in a boys' bathroom. Students were just arriving for classes.

The tragedy also generated an outpouring on blogs and message boards, the Globe's Local News Updates reports today.

-- Brian Ballou

Update: Fellow students say slaying suspect was an outcast

Posted January 19, 2007 08:56 PM

John Odgren dusts fingerprints during a summer crime scene forensics class at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner
(Worcester Telegram & Gazette file photo)


Sixteen-year-old John Odgren earlier this school year participated in a lab experiment for his forensic sciences class in which students used lead pipes and toy knives to splatter red corn-syrup ‘‘blood’’ against pieces of paper.

Yesterday, investigators from the State Police Crime Laboratory in Sudbury were conducting similar tests on the blood of Odgren’s 15-year-old classmate, James Alenson, which was spattered in a boy’s bathroom at Lincoln-Sudbury High School.

‘‘It’s so strange thinking about that now,’’ said one of Odgren’s lab partners for the experiment. ‘‘It’s real.’’’

Odgren appeared to have few friends, but would boast to anyone within earshot that he had a collection of weapons and that he knew about Internet sites where weapons could be purchased, said Brianna Hodge, 16, a junior.

Odgren, who called himself ‘‘Jack’’ at school, sometimes wore trench coats, and often wore a fedora and small, round black sunglasses indoors, schoolmates said.

Katie Crowley, also a junior, said that Odgren’s manner of dress — especially his trenchcoat — made him the object of frequent jokes students told about the possibility that he might go on a rampage similar to the Columbine High School massacre. The Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, often wore long overcoats and had dubbed themselves the ‘‘Trenchcoat Mafia’’ before killing 12 fellow students and a teacher and wounding 23 others at the Colorado high school in 1999.

No one is laughing now, Crowley said.

‘‘Who would honestly be like, ‘I want to go out and kill someone,’’’ she said.

Hodge said Odgren would follow girls around and make inappropriate comments.

‘‘He wasn’t quite a stalker, but he kept asking my friend out, very persistent, very creepy,’’ Hodge said. ‘‘He just wouldn’t take no for an answer.’’

Odgren’s lab partner said he had frequently asked her out to lunch, but that his frequent questions to their forensic science teacher about ‘‘the best way to cover up a murder’’ and his talk about weapons had put her off. She mostly tried to avoid him, she said.

At Odgren’s arraignment in Framingham Juvenile Court yesterday, defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro of Boston said his client suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, as well as a hyperactivity disorder and that he had been taking medication for both in recent years.

Children with Asperger’s are often bright and articulate but often have trouble relating to peers because they become fixated on seemingly random topics and talk about them obsessively.

That tendency, known as ‘‘monologuing,’’ combined with an inability to read the facial cues for boredom or annoyance of those they are talking to, often results in Asperger’s children being unable to form peer friendships, specialists said.

Although friends said that Odgren’s fixation seemed to be on killing and weapons, specialists said children with Asperger’s are not generally violent.

Yesterday, two police cars were parked in front of the driveway of the Odgren home on Ball Hill Road in Princeton. Police officers said the family was not speaking to the media.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Update: teenager pleads not guilty in Lincoln-Sudbury slaying

Posted January 19, 2007 03:55 PM


A 16-year-old student pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges today after prosecutors accused him of stabbing a classmate to death inside a bathroom at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

John Odgren appeared in Framingham District Court wearing a white hooded jump suit and black wire-rim glasses. His father stood motionless in the front row of the public gallery as his wife, dressed in a nurses uniformed, leaned against her husband.

Middlesex County prosecutor Daniel Bennett told the judge that Odgren attacked 15-year-old James Alenson inside a school bathroom with a long knife just after 7 a.m. Bennett alleged that Odgren stabbed Alenson twice and said the blade pieced the freshman's heart. Thirty minutes after the attack, Alenson was found in a hallway in a pool of blood without a pulse, Bennett said.

In the principal's office, Bennett said that Odgren told investigators: "I did it. I did it."

Odgren also pleaded not guilty to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds.

Outside court, defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro said Odgren had been under the care of doctors for psychological illnesses for years and took numerous medications.

"I know my client and his family feel for the victim and his family," Shapiro said.

Alenson, a freshman from Sudbury, was rushed to Emerson Hospital in Concord and pronounced dead at 8:12 a.m., said Bonnie Goldsmith, a hospital spokeswoman.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone Jr. would not discuss what investigators suspect may have motivated the stabbing.

"What we believe now is that this is an isolated incident between these two students," Leone said. "There is no thought or belief that anyone else is in danger at this time."

Dozens of parents rushed to the school on Lincoln Road where there are about 1,600 students. The school went on lock-down for the next few hours as students were brought to the gymnasium. At about 10 a.m., all the students were sent home for the day, according to an e-mail school officials sent to parents in Sudbury.

High school Superintendent and Principal John Ritchie said at the press conference that teachers and staff were "obviously heart broken dealing with this." As recently as Wednesday, the faculty had met with police from Sudbury and Lincoln to discuss the high school's emergency safety response plan.

"That didn't prevent this from happening," Ritchie said. "But it did help us have a sense of how to respond, how to be calm, how to reassure students, where to go, how to listen to announcements. For me, that's a small consolation right now obviously what we are dealing with is the heartbreak of this student dying."

The response drew praise from State Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll, who extended his condolence to the victim's family in what he called "everyone's worst nightmare."

"Fortunately, the school and local authorities were well prepared and responded immediately," Driscoll said. "As a result, no one else was injured, the school was put into temporary lockdown quickly, and the entire student body was sent home safely soon after."

Grief counselors will be available today and through the weekend for students at the high school, Leone said.

At the time of the stabbing, Dr. Robert Sackstein, a physician at Harvard Medical School, had just dropped off his two twins, who are both freshmen at the high school. Sackstein didn't know someone had been stabbed at the time and was frustrated because he said he could have offered some medical assistance.

Several hours later he got a frantic phone call from his wife and rushed back to the school to get his children.

"The fact that it happened in Sudbury, Massachusetts," Sackstein said, "means that it can happen anywhere."

Fatal stabbing at Lincoln-Sudbury High School

Posted January 19, 2007 10:44 AM


A ninth grader at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School was stabbed early this morning in a school bathroom, according to an e-mail notice officials sent to parents.

An unidentified stabbing victim was brought to Emerson Hospital in Concord early this morning and pronounced dead at 8:12 a.m., said Bonnie Goldsmith, a hospital spokeswoman, who would not say if the victim came from the high school. Goldsmith referred all additional questions to the Middlesex District Attorney's office.

Corey Welford, a spokesman for the district attorney, would only say that an "incident" took place and both police and investigators from the district attorney's office responded to the school. Sudbury police also referred all questions to the district attorney.

The notice sent out by school officials said that stabbing took place at about 7:20 a.m. The other student involved in the incident has been identified, school officials said. School officials did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

All of the 1,600 students at the high school were sent home at about 10 a.m. after the school was placed in lockdown following the stabbing, according to the notice.

Curtis Middle School and all Sudbury elementary schools will continue on a regular schedule today, according to the notice. Staff at those schools have been told about the stabbing, but they will not be telling the elementary school students.

For updates on this story, check The Boston Globe's Local News Updates section on

-- Andrew Ryan

Emergency planning extends to pets in Sudbury

Posted January 16, 2007 12:11 PM


Sure, there are emergency plans in place for people. But what about their pets?

The Sudbury Senior Center is offering a workshop on emergency planning Feb. 5 that will focus on planning how to evacuate pets during an emergency.

Paula Adelson, the town’s former assistant dog officer, will lead the session.

The 2:30 p.m. workshop is free, but reservations are suggested by calling (978) 443-3055.

-- Kristen Green

Sudbury man facing charges in Aspen Technology case

Posted January 9, 2007 03:06 PM


Federal regulators yesterday lodged criminal and civil charges against the former chief executive of Aspen Technology Inc., alleging he engaged in fraud to win his job at the Cambridge software firm.

David McQuillin, 48, of Sudbury surrendered yesterday to face the criminal charges, according to a joint statement by the US attorney's office and the FBI office in New York.

He was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of securities fraud in connection with a scheme to falsify the revenue of Aspen, which makes software for oil refineries, when he was co-chief operating officer early this decade, the Globe Business section reports today.

-- Robert Weisman

Service slated for former Sudbury man

Posted January 4, 2007 03:56 PM


A memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow in Sudbury for 26-year-old Thomas P. Lueders.

Lueders, who lived in Washington D.C. but whose hometown was Sudbury, died Dec. 27 in a Key West, Fla. hotel from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Lueders and his father, Richard, were found unconscious in their rooms at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort, the Miami Herald reports. Richard Lueders recovered.

The hotel, which has been closed since Dec. 27, has been sued by an Iowa family that was sickened by the fumes a few days earlier. The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the hotel.

Thomas Lueders' mother, Beth Thomas, said her son's funeral would take precedence over any legal action.

"We have to get through the next couple of days to do what is proper for Tom," she said.

The service will begin at 11 a.m. at Sudbury United Methodist Church, 251 Old Sudbury Road.

-- Adam Sell

Sudbury woman remembers Ford

Posted December 28, 2006 12:51 PM


With the recent death of former President Gerald Ford, people nationwide are fondly recalling his short time as president.

Lisa Sheehan remembers meeting the former president when she was 10 years old during a visit he made to Springfield.

Sheehan, who now lives in Sudbury, was Little Miss Massachusetts at the time, and handed him a bouquet of roses.

"I remember saying, 'These are for you Mr. President'," she said. "'He said, 'Thank you,' and he gave me a kiss on the cheek and a little hug. I just remember him being very warm," she told The Republican of Springfield.

-- Erica Tochin

Make a difference

Posted December 26, 2006 03:31 PM


The town clerk's office has announced that there will be 15 official positions open for election at the March 26 annual town election.

The positions include one member of the Board of Selectmen, one member of the Board of Assessors, two Goodnow Library trustees, one Board of Health member, one moderator, two Park and Recreation Commissioners, two Planning Board members, two members for the Sudbury Housing Authority, one member of the Sudbury School Committee and two members of the L-S Regional District School Committee.

Interested candidates must file their intent to run with the town clerk on or before Feb. 1.

- Jennifer Nelson

Lit up with holiday spirit in Sudbury

Posted December 19, 2006 08:25 AM


How do you politely ask a man if he's completely crazy? How do you get him to admit that he's gone stark raving mad?

City & Region columnist Brian McGrory writes today that that's what he was wondering when he went to John Paolucci's massive house at the end of Trailside Circle in the Tall Pines neighborhood of Sudbury.

Paolucci has an elaborate Christmas display and his enthusiasm has spread right down the street, turning it into a veritable tourist attraction.

Fall colors galore

Posted October 26, 2006 07:31 PM


This weekend's winds may lay bare all the trees, but the pretty photos of the season will remain.

Someone who calls himself or herself "rad1212" online has a thing about fall foliage and has posted an album of foliage photos from the area on the "Your Photos" site of boston. com.

The album includes pictures of Stow and Sudbury.

Check out this one from Stow.


An idea whose lime -- and strawberry and kiwi -- has come

Posted September 23, 2006 09:25 AM


The space-aged Jetson family could conjure up a nice juicy steak with the push of a button.

Now, a Sudbury-based company is hoping to create the soda bottle of the future. Ipifini has created a new, programmable soft drink bottle that could provide consumers with multiple beverage choices in one container.

What's next? The company is also looking to improve choices for shampoos,sauces, paints and perfumes. The products would take up less shelf space and reduce manufacturing costs, according to the Discovery Channel website.

Check out our story about the bottle in Sunday's Globe West.

-- Erica Tochin


(Inventor Tod Woolf, of Sudbury-based Ipifini, with his product, Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

9/11 victims remembered in Sudbury

Posted September 11, 2006 10:07 AM



(A 9/11 memorial service today in Sudbury, Globe Staff Photo by Janet Knott)

In Sudbury, as the bells at churches tolled at 8:46 a.m. this morning, three granite benches sat empty in a lush park across from Town Hall.

That is because this western suburb of some 17,000 people had three victims in the attacks five years ago on Sept. 11. There is a bench for Peter Goodrich, 33, and another for Cora Holland, 52, who both died on hijacked planes.

The third empty bench is for Geoffrey Cloud, 36, who grew up in town and died on the 105th floor of the north tower.

The benches are arranged in a semi-circle around a one-ton bolder of local granite that bears a plaque naming each victim.

"It means everything to us," said Bette Cloud, the mother Geoffrey Cloud, a senior partner at Cantor Fitzgerald.

-- Kristen Green and Andrew Ryan

Maine murder victim had Sudbury roots

Posted September 9, 2006 10:05 AM


Dorothy Cabral of Sudbury says her daughter was "a happy, bubbly effervescent beacon of joy."

Cynthia Cabral Beatson, 43, who grew up in Sudbury was one of four people killed over the Labor Day weekend in Newry, Maine.

Christian Nielsen, a cook who worked at an inn in the area, is being held in the case, the Globe reports today.

Moving into the dorm

Posted August 21, 2006 10:51 AM


It's that time of year. While younger kids are still enjoying their summer vacations, many freshmen are already moving into their dorms.

Sarah Wells of Sudbury is one of those newcomers. This past weekend, she and 930 other freshmen moved into their dorms at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, the Daily Item of Sunbury, Pa. reports.

The students converged on the university's campus for a week of orientation and activities before the school year actually begins.

"There is a lot to do," Ms. Wells told the newspaper. "I'm excited about being here. It was tough to say good-bye to everyone back home, but I'm ready to get started here."

Her mother, who helped move her in, said "Sarah is our only child, so we knew this would be tough."

-- Erica Tochin

Who will rebuild Lebanon?

Posted August 16, 2006 07:09 AM


Parker Coddington of Sudbury says Hezbollah, rather than the United States and Israel, is going to end up rebuilding Lebanon in a Letter to the Editor today.

NOW THAT the Israeli-American attack on Lebanon has been forced to end who will undertake the task of restoring water, electric power, housing, and an operating economy to that shattered country?

Israel? America? Of course not.

Hezbollah? Of course.

And while President Bush has promised to do everything he can to see that Iranian and Syrian aid is prevented from reaching Hezbollah, his military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan will prevent an effective blockade and allow the needed reconstruction to proceed. And it surely will -- largely under what most Lebanese, and Muslims world wide, will properly understand to be the direction of Hezbollah.

To see the enormous benefit of a joint American-Israeli effort to restore happy civilian life to that once-lovely country is simply beyond President Bush's narrow imagination.


Sudbury man sentenced

Posted July 21, 2006 04:17 PM


A Sudbury man was sentenced to six months on probation today after pleading guilty in connection with allegedly sending child pornography to an undercover police officer whom he believed was a 14-year-old boy.

Robert Shoemaker, 51, a former Little League coach, originally faced the more serious charge of distribution of child pornography, but pleaded guilty to one count of possession in a plea bargain, the Middlesex District Attorney's office said.

District Court Judge Paul Healy Jr. imposed a host of conditions on the probation, including not going near anyplace with children, not entering any Internet chat rooms, and completing any therapy that is ordered.

Authorities say that Shoemaker began communicating in September with the undercover detective in Keene, N.H., who had set up an online profile as a 14-year-old boy. After Shoemaker allegedly sent a photo of a nude boy, the detective was able to trace the email address, authorities say.

-- Globe City and Region Staff

Sudbury baseball thriving

Posted July 12, 2006 11:29 AM


The American Legion baseball regular season is coming to a close this week in Boston's western suburbs. One of the area's most impressive teams has been Sudbury. At 14-2 and with two games remaining, Sudbury has clinched first place in Zone 5A.

Sudbury coach Len Noce credited his team's coaching staff as a factor in the club's success. The assistants are Eric Natoli, Michael Noce (Noce's son) and Matt Corcin.

Sudbury is in action tonight at Natick (7 p.m.). The team finishes its season on Thursday night in Cambridge (6 p.m.), then is scheduled for playoff action starting Wednesday, July 19.

-- Mike Reiss

A familiar face with tired feet

Posted July 4, 2006 11:31 AM


You might see a familiar face in the Sudbury Fourth of July parade this afternoon. Attorney General Tom Reilly, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is planning to march in the 1 p.m. event.

It's a rough life for a candidate. Reilly also planned to march in the Plymouth parade in the morning and the Norwood parade later in the afternoon.

Reilly is vying for the Democratic nomination with Chris Gabrieli, who's marching in a couple of parades, and Deval Patrick, whose supporters have also planned an event.

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