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January 10, 2013

Killer denied parole

Beverly man beat and stabbed his mom, a popular eighth-grade teacher, in '97

BEVERLY — A Beverly Farms man who admitted to beating and stabbing his mother, a beloved middle school teacher, to death in 1997 has been denied parole.

The state Parole Board found that Benjamin Murray, who was 19 at the time he killed Gail Murray, shows a “remarkable lack of insight” about serious problems, including the very mental health issues that Murray and his family blamed for the murder.

“In his parole hearing testimony, Murray took the positions that he did not have problems with alcohol, anger, violence or mental health,” the board concluded in its Dec. 27 decision. The parole hearing took place on Nov. 15.

Despite support for Murray from his father, brother and other family members, the board voted unanimously (with two former Essex County prosecutors abstaining) to deny Murray’s first request for parole and ordered that he not reapply for five years. The decision was released Tuesday.

Testifying against parole was an assistant district attorney from Middlesex County, which prosecuted the case because one of Murray’s uncles (now a judge) was an assistant district attorney in Essex County.

The Dec. 23, 1997, murder in a gambrel-style home on Valley Street shocked both the normally quiet neighborhood and the schools where Gail Murray had taught and “Benny” Murray had studied.

Gail Murray was 49 and an eighth-grade English teacher at Beverly’s Memorial Middle School. Colleagues and students described her to a reporter at the time as a beautiful woman who always had a smile on her face and who was “like a mom” to everyone.

Her younger son, Benjamin, had also been an outstanding athlete and well-liked student throughout most of his school years. But after his parents’ divorce and the breakup of his own first serious relationship, Benjamin Murray began to decline, family members said after the killing.

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