Prosecutors say killers of two men showed off one victim's hand
HINGHAM - The two homeless men found dead near Bare Cove Park in May 2005 were beaten to death with baseball bats by a pair of white supremacists who showed off one of the victim’s hands at a party that summer, investigators said Tuesday.
Their alleged killers, Eric J. Snow, 25, of Bridgewater and James S. Winquist, 23, of Weymouth, were arraigned in Hingham District Court Tuesday.
Snow was called "Killa," and had the name tattooed on his throat. He had another tattoo on his neck that said "Thug life."
Winquist went by "Twisted," police said.
A person walking in the park discovered the decomposing bodies of William P. Chrapan, 44, and David P. Lyons, 46, in an abandoned military ammunition bunker on a state wildlife preserve next to the Hingham Mutual Fire Insurance Co. at 230 Beal St.
Two unidentified witnesses told police that Snow and Winquist bragged about killing the homeless men at a party at Winquist’s Rhodes Circle home.
“These witnesses stated that at this party James Winquist while in the presence of Eric Snow produced what appeared to the witnesses to be a human hand from a plastic bag and/or cooler,” State Police Sgt. Leonard Coppenrath wrote in his report.
Family members of William Chrapan wept as the witnesses’ recollections from the party were read aloud. They said Winquist and Snow mocked the murder victims by making gurgling sounds to “imitate the death of the two homeless men.”
“Eric Snow and James Winquist had also made crunching sounds to imitate the sound of the damage done to the victims as well as mocking their pleas to have the killers stop,” Coppenrath wrote.
The witnesses said Snow and Winquist bragged about killing Chrapan and Lyons, “stating that they had ‘made their bones’ and that others needed to do the same.”
Snow and Winquist were arrested Aug. 31 and charged with murder. Both pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Hingham District Court. Judge Patrick Hurley ordered them held without bail.
Members of Chrapan’s family were unable to comment after the hearing.
Lisa Winquist, James Winquist’s mother, said her son was innocent and the depiction of him as a white supremacist is untrue. She said his head is shaved because he likes having a bald head.
“They’ve got the wrong guy as far as my son goes,” Lisa Winquist said. “He has nothing against anybody.”
She said someone else is responsible, that her son could never commit such a crime.
Snow’s relatives did not speak to reporters.
During the hearing Snow made several hand gestures and appeared to mouth words to people sitting in the courtroom. Winquist stared out at the courtroom, occasionally looking at his feet.
Following the hearing Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz praised the work of detectives who stayed focused on the case for more than two years.
Snow and Winquist are scheduled to return to court Oct. 5.
The mystery of Lyons’ and Chrapan’s deaths began May 9, 2005, when a 911 caller to the Hingham police reported finding the bodies.
The deaths were not immediately ruled homicides, but it was noted that one had signs of blunt-force injuries.
A few days after the bodies were discovered, Cruz disclosed that autopsies confirmed that Chrapan and Lyons had been murdered. Both died of multiple head injuries caused by blunt force. Their skulls were fractured and they had been stabbed. It was estimated that the pair had been dead seven to 10 days. They were identified through dental records.
Friends of both men said that in high school they seemed to have promising futures.
Lyons graduated from Weymouth South High School in 1977. Friends said the funny and upbeat teen seemed to exemplify the optimism and idealism of kids who grew up in that era.
Friend Peg Hayes, who went to school with Lyons, said he worked as a carpet installer but that a seizure disorder stemming from a car accident made it difficult for him to work. His health problems caused him stress, she said, and he came to to have problems with alcohol.
Hayes could not imagine who would hurt her old friend.
‘‘Whoever did this, they’ve got to be evil,’’ Hayes said shortly after the bodies were found. ‘‘I can’t even comprehend because he was such a gentle soul.’’
Chrapan grew up across town and attended Weymouth Vocational High School, where he was considered among the best students in the electronics shop.
Classmate Rich Marani said Chrapan was ‘‘a great kid,’’ smart and highly regarded by his teachers.
After high school he spent three years in the Navy, then took technical training in Florida. He became homesick, though, and returned to Weymouth and worked for his father’s home-heating business.
It was not clear how Lyons and Chrapan came to be homeless or how they knew each other. It appeared they were sharing the bunker, which was less than 100 yards from a Little League baseball field.
Police and residents who routinely walked in the park said homeless people were known to take shelter in the abandoned bunkers.
Residents spoke of trouble in the area with drugs, vandalism and fights.
Within weeks of the killings, state officials secured the bunkers. By July the state agreed to destroy all the bunkers in the area, and has begun taking them down.
Karen Goulart of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.