Trial of Man Charged in 1971 Bedford Murder Begins Next Week

April 19, 2024
Arthur L. Massei’s trial begins on Tuesday at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn. Image:

The trial of a 78-year-old man accused of murdering a Pine Hill Road woman more than a half-century ago is scheduled to begin on Tuesday morning in Middlesex Superior Court, Woburn.

Arthur L. Massei is charged with killing Natalie Scheublin on June 10, 1971. He was arrested in March 2022 following a resurrected investigation by a new cold-case unit. 

Concurrently, Massei faces several charges of extortion and solicitation to commit a crime in connection with attempts to intimidate a potential witness to give false testimony.

Judge David A. Deakin, a former prosecutor, has been assigned to the trial, which is on the court calendar for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and continuing April 29-May 2.

The prosecutors assigned to this case are David Solet, the chief of the Cold Case Homicide Unit, and Senior Appellate Counsel Jamie Charles. Solet headed the group that Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan set up in 2019, leading to Massei’s arrest.

The court appointed Sean Cannon and Mark Wester to represent Massei, who is listed on the court docket as an indigent defendant. Cannon’s office is in Wakefield and Wester is with a Hudson firm.

A pool of 50 jurors was requested with selection expected to get underway on Tuesday. Police Chief John Fisher said members of his department are scheduled to testify.

The district attorney’s officer and Kenneth Fong, who was Bedford’s acting chief of police at the time, outlined the details of the murder when they announced Massei’s arrest, following indictment by a grand jury.

Scheublin’s husband Raymond, who was president of the Lexington Savings Bank, found her body in the basement of their home after returning from work. Investigators had little to work with at the time. They recovered the victim’s car in a VA Hospital parking lot nearby. 

According to a detailed announcement last year from the DA’s office, advances in technology and dogged investigative work, including Bedford detectives, resulted in the arrest, beginning with the car. 

“Although the car appeared to have been intentionally wiped down to remove fingerprints, police were able to observe and collect several latent fingerprints from it, including one from the right rear window.”

The case was reexamined in 1999 when State Police began using the Automated Fingerprint Identification System with the FBI. The computerized database matched a thumbprint to Massei, who had been interviewed several times over the course of the investigation. Massei told authorities his deceased cousin carried out the murder. 

Besides the fingerprint, new witness testimony helped authorities identify Massei as a suspect in the case. State Police troopers and Bedford Police detectives sifted through Massei’s past and identified a woman who admitted to helping Massei defraud banks in the 1990s. 

“She revealed that Massei habitually carried a knife and had bragged to her about having killed someone with a knife,” according to the district attorney’s office.

Last year a grand jury indicted Massei for an array of criminal offenses he committed from behind bars in 2022 following his arrest for murder.

“The most serious of these indictments alleges that Massei offered to pay a witness to offer false testimony in order to derail his prosecution for murder,” according to a detailed statement from the district attorney’s office.

According to Ryan’s office, “In October of 2022, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Cold Case Homicide Unit, working with detectives from the State Police and Bedford Police Department, learned that the defendant, who was in the custody of the Middlesex sheriff’s office in Billerica, had been communicating by letter with a woman outside the prison.

“The letters revealed an escalating level of threats from Massei toward the recipient of the letters if she did not perform tasks to his satisfaction. Threats included that the defendant would send a third party to do the woman harm and that the defendant himself would get to her ‘like a bullet’.”

The district attorney’s statement said that in letters written by Massei, “investigators discovered that the defendant had asked for assistance recruiting someone who would pretend to be a witness, and who would be willing to testify falsely that she had information that the defendant had been framed for murder.

“Massei allegedly offered to pay $1,000 to a witness who would offer such fictitious testimony, and provided detailed instructions about what the witness should say, including what she had heard, who she had heard it from, and where she was when she heard it.”

The indictments are for solicitation to suborn perjury in a capital case, attempted extortion, and threatening to cause physical injury or death. Massei also was arraigned for solicitation to commit common usury in connection with allegations that Massei, after his arrest for murder, directed others by letter to collect illegal debts.

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