PEABODY — Drugs and murder have combined to keep the man found guilty of a gruesome Peabody killing in prison more than 40 years after the crime.
Bruce Dabrieo was denied parole on April 17 in the March 27, 1971, shooting of John McCormick, following a parole hearing attended by the inmate’s wife and son on Jan. 5. Dabrieo had been sentenced to life in prison after a May 1974 conviction of second-degree murder.
“It was a pretty infamous crime,” recalled current Peabody police Chief Robert Champagne, who wasn’t on the force at the time but is a lifelong Peabody resident. “Part of the reason for that ... the car was set on fire.”
McCormick was shot in his Cadillac near a Peabody apartment complex, after which the car was driven to a YMCA camp at Cedar Pond, not far from the current YMCA building, where it was set ablaze.
Dabrieo was allegedly dealing drugs for McCormick and owed him money.
A veteran, Dabrieo was paroled twice before and returned to serve his sentence each time due to problems with drugs. The board cited a long history of involvement with hard drugs, including heroin.
“The overriding factor in his parole failures has been his decadeslong struggle and uncontrollable addiction to drugs,” the board reported.
After a parole in August 1989, he was returned to prison in September 1990 after testing positive for opiates. He was paroled again in 2004, despite references to being disciplined in prison in 1996 for heroin use. In March 2011, he was discovered by a state trooper in the Revere Super Stop & Shop Plaza trying to conceal a hypodermic needle.
Additionally, the parole board noted a long history of obtaining drugs from physicians, including, recently, morphine. “He stated at the hearing that he did not believe that he was aware of the ramifications of using morphine,” according to the report. “This is not credible as his drug involvement began in his teens. ... Indeed, the murder he committed was directly related to his drug use.”