Mary Lou Arruda

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Mary Lou Arruda

Birth
Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 8 Sep 1978 (aged 15)
Raynham, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 90782637 View Source
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On September 8 1978 about 4PM Arruda was last seen riding her bicycle near her home in Raynham Mass. Her bicycle was found around 430PM by the side of the road, next to it was a tire track with an acceleration mark. The tire track showed an abnormal wear pattern, also located close by was a Benson & Hedges cigarette. A number of witnesses came forward reporting seeing a bright green car with a black racing strip. Police obtained a driver's description. At 5PM the boy who found Arruda's bicycle returned it to her parents, who had just finished reporting Arruda missing to the Raynham Police Department. An extensive search was conducted for three (3) days in the area she was last seen On September 9 police had developed photos of the tire tracks found near the bicycle. On September 10 police circulated a wanted poster containing the composite likeness of the driver of the bright green car. On September 13 Police received information on James Kater and a photo. September 19 Kater along with his attorney and wife met with Raynham police. Police notified his appearance matched that of the wanted poster. In addition he smoke Benson & Hedges cigarettes and drove a bright green 1976 Opel with a black racing strip. His right front tire had excessive wear, photos were taken. James Kater from Brockton Mass was a donut maker and was on probation for an incident in 1969. Kater plead guilty to assault with intent to rape, assault & battery with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping. All of the charges were from a 1968 kidnapping and attack on other young girl from Andover Mass.
On November 11 1978 the body of 15 yr old Mary Lou Arruda was discovered decomposing tied to a
tree in the Freetown-Fall River State Forest. Her body was discovered by a dirt bike rider. The cause of death was ruled by the medical examiner as strangulation by ligature or positional asphyxia. The medical examiner determined she was alive and in a standing position when she was tied to the tree, but once she became unconscious the weight of her head against the ligature around her neck caused her to suffocate. It was determined she died the same day she went missing. She was later buried in the St. Joseph's Cemetery in Raynham Mass.
At the trial, James Kater testified on his own behalf and acknowledged his guilt in the 1968 incident. He stated was rebuilding his life since his release from prison in January 1976. Kater denied any involvement with the Arruda case.
In 1979 Kater was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the verdict, and he was convicted again in 1986. The verdict once again was overturned. He was retried in 1992, ending in a mistrial. He was retried in 1996 and was finally convicted. Kater is currently serving his sentence in a federal prison at Lompoc, California where he was moved for his safety.