, Salem, MA

Local News

May 28, 2011

Murder suspects' group home is shuttered


"It's a terrific program, but it's always been a program that's been difficult financially at that size to really operate," he said. "This was a difficult decision for the agency. Fortunately all of the youth have been placed in good, appropriate settings."

Beverly Police said there have been more than 20 incidents at the Blaine Avenue home in the past year but described most of them as "minor." Prosecutors say Christensen and Martin met up with Vernazzaro at Balch Playground and killed him with a knife and baseball bat in a dispute over a teenage girl. Christensen and Martin are being held without bail.

On Thursday, Hicks was released on personal recognizance at her arraignment at Salem Superior Court, according to Essex District Attorney spokesman Steve O'Connell. Judge Howard Whitehead ordered that Hicks remain in custody of the Department of Children and Families with a 10 p.m. curfew. She is subject to random drug and alcohol tests and must have no contact with either co-defendant.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by email at

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