, Salem, MA

Local News

January 10, 2007

Decision to free killer shocks victim's family

SALEM - Relatives of a Salem man shot to death 20 years ago are outraged by the state Parole Board's decision to release admitted killer Charles "Chucky" Doucette at the end of the month.

"I don't get it," said Margaret Spenlinhauer, the aunt of Raymond Bufalino, who was shot in the head by Doucette as he sat in his car near Harmony Grove Cemetery on the Salem-Peabody line on Feb. 21, 1987. "It really is a travesty of justice. My nephew did nothing wrong."

Last month, the board voted 4-2 to grant parole to Doucette, who has served 15 years of a life term for second-degree murder - one of seven consecutive life terms he received as part of a plea agreement in 1991 on the eve of a retrial. Doucette is scheduled to be released from prison Jan. 30.

Bufalino was injured working for Doucette's father at a gas station on Canal Street and filed a workers' compensation claim, only to discover that the elder Doucette did not carry the legally required insurance. Chucky Doucette tried to persuade Bufalino to waive his claim, but Bufalino refused. Subsequently, Doucette approached Bufalino as he sat in his car and shot him twice.

Salem police Capt. Paul Tucker, who investigated the murder, called it "a brutal crime" that shattered a young family.

The Essex County District Attorney's Office strongly opposed Doucette's request for parole during a hearing last October, where members of Bufalino's family, including his widow and a son who was just 9 months old when Bufalino died, also spoke in opposition.

"I can't believe the decision," said Shauna Rollins of North Andover, Bufalino's wife. She was just 26 when she was left a widow by the killing. "Being at the parole hearing, the way they were questioning him and grilling him made me feel like they were not going to let him out. I felt for sure they were going to deny him parole."

Arguing against freeing Doucette, prosecutors cited not only the murder but his criminal activities while awaiting trial. Doucette committed two home invasions, in Lynnfield involving a family grieving the death of a young son and in Peabody, in which a stun gun was used.

Assistant District Attorney Elin Graydon told the Parole Board Doucette "defines a career criminal" who "committed all of the crimes in these cases in a self-absorbed quest for money."

"He does whatever criminal act he chooses to do, regardless of the consequences to the victims or to himself," Graydon wrote in a letter to the board last fall.

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