Lifestyle » Vol. 55

Local author pens a chilling chronicle of true crimes in central Massachusetts

By Paul Collins

Like a lot of people who are just a tad reluctant to admit it openly, from time to time over the years, I too have found the minds of murderers to be of passing interest. There is that sense of macabre allure that percolates up to the surface when reading accounts of the heinous crimes of legendary serial killers like Ted Bundy. What scares us down to our toes is how, all too often, they walk among us, hiding in plain sight, wearing a mask of sanity.

Rachel Faugno, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, and an adjunct English professor at Quinsigamond Community College since 1996, has lived in Central Massachusetts since 1970. The graduate of Worcester State College and Clark University has compiled a chilling chronicle of local true-life murders that reach back into the long-forgotten seamy history of Worcester County. She writes of a time and place that has vanished. That is, until now.

In her book, Murder & Mayhem in Central Massachusetts, Faugno delves into a past that hides some very dark and gruesome homicides beneath the gauzy veil of the tranquil, rustic and pastoral image of Central Massachusetts. These true tales recall the grisly acts of Arthur Toby, an escaped slave from the Worcester jail in a colonial settlement who was hanged for his crimes in 1768 Worcester County, to the 1936 execution of Sutton choir singer Newel Sherman, who was convicted of the drowning death of his wife in Sutton’s placid Lake Singletary.

“I’ve been writing since I was a kid, mostly poems and songs when I was a teenager, and then, in my 20s, I started writing novels.” Faugno said. “I have a bunch of rejected manuscripts gathering dust. I think I was inspired to write because I love reading. The power of words on pages to open new worlds has always fascinated me. “

She has always had an interest in the horrific 1901 murder of the Naramore children by their mother, which she recounts in the chapter, “Slaughter of Innocents.” It was a catalyst for her to submit a book proposal about it to the History Press, the publisher of Murder & Mayhem in Central Massachusetts. After reading it, the publisher asked her to expand her effort to include additional crimes.

As to the road she’s traveled as a published author, Faugno said that she has published several nonfiction books under a pseudonym and a couple of privately commissioned books.

“I have two new books published this year. Murder & Mayhem in Central Massachusetts, released on Feb. 29, is the latest edition to the History Press’ True Crime series. My first published novel, The Witching Time, was released by Ravenswood Publishing on April 20.”

After reading this book, I believe that truth really is, as the old saying goes, stranger than fiction. The pages of Murder & Mayhem in Central Massachusetts take the reader on a brief journey into the murky world of troubled souls who were held in the grip of mental illness and tormented obsession. In the end, it is a chronicle that reveals the tragedy that is often at the heart of most violent crimes and murder.

Murder & Mayhem in Central Massachusetts is available on amazon.com. For more information, visit acadiapublishing.com.

Paul Collins is a freelance writer from Southborough.

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