Natalie Scheublin Murder: Judge Sentences Arthur L. Massei to Life in Prison

June 3, 2024

The resurrection of a Bedford murder investigation after half a century culminated on Friday with the sentencing of a habitual criminal to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Arthur L. Massei, 78, was convicted by a jury on May 14 for killing Natalie Scheublin, 54, in her Pine Hill Road home on June 10, 1971.

The sentencing by Judge David A. Deakin at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn took about 20 minutes, including a victim impact statement by Kenneth Scheublin, one of the victim’s two children.

Prior to the sentencing, following two hours of testimony by investigators, the judge ruled that Massei’s “long and steady and serious crime history” meets the statutory definition of a “habitual criminal.” 

That empowered the judge to add 20 concurrent years for Massei’s conviction for solicitation of another person to commit perjury. Massei was charged in March 2022, and while he was in custody awaiting trial, he attempted to procure a witness to give false testimony.

“As a practical matter, Mr. Massei will live the rest of his life in prison, which is appropriate in this case,” Judge Deakin said.

Massei, seated between his two court-appointed lawyers, wore a sports coat and dress shirt with no tie for his sentencing. His hands were secured together, and his jaw was constantly in a chewing motion. When addressed directly by the judge, he used headphones.

In answer to Deakin’s questions, Massei said his education ended after grade 10 at Swampscott High School and was treated for an unnamed mental illness in the 1960s. He said he is not suffering from mental illness now and uses methadone. 

Kenneth Scheublin, 79, dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and tie, sat in the rear of the courtroom until he was invited to speak. He moved to the witness stand, speaking without notes, began, “Fifty-three years ago, my mother was murdered.”

Acknowledging that his perspective changed during different stages of his life, he said, “One thing that hasn’t varied is the ache in my heart that I have carried with me for 53 years.”

He said he has fantasized “an image of the horror of what my mother must have gone through.” Her body was discovered by his father when he returned from work, face down on the basement floor, her ankles bound. An autopsy determined that Mrs. Scheublin had been stabbed with a knife multiple times and struck with an object, causing a massive blunt force injury to her skull.

Scheublin said the call he took from Bedford police informing him of the murder was so traumatizing “that it was 10 years at least before I could hear a phone ring without my heart pounding in my chest.” Even now he dislikes using a telephone, he added.

His father was planning an early retirement and his parents were contemplating moving to Cape Ann, he said. Instead, his father, who died in 2011, was a widower for 40 years.

“One of the saddest things that never happened is that my mother never got to meet her granddaughter,” Scheublin said, his voice catching for the only time. “They would have adored each other.” 

Scheublin said that for decades “I resigned myself to the fact that the murder wouldn’t be solved.” He mused that Massei may have surmised that “I got away with murder. But it didn’t quite work out that way, did it, Mr. Massei?” The defendant yelled something in response, evoking immediate orders of “Quiet!” by two court officers who took a step toward him.

Closing with a memory from his mother’s wake, Scheublin said his father, contemplating the brutality of the crime, said simply, “That bastard. With all due respect to the court, my sentiments exactly.”

As he announced the mandatory life without parole, Judge Deakin said the victim impact statement “says everything that needs to be said” about the severity of the sentence.

Mark Wester, one of the defendant’s lawyers, said Massei is “not the same person he was.” His last felony was 28 years ago, he said, not mentioning the conviction for what the judge called “his efforts to interfere with the proper conduct of this trial.”

During the initial session on Massei’s criminal status, the main witness was State Police Trooper Michael Sullivan of Bedford, an investigator with the Middlesex District Attorney’s office in the case. He was questioned by the lead prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney David Solet, who heads the Cold Case Homicide Unit that was key to the arrest.

Sullivan’s testimony comprised a resume of Massei’s criminal indictments, convictions, and incarcerations for much of three decades in New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia, as well as Massachusetts. Massei was first identified as a possible suspect in the Bedford murder more than 30 years ago.

The crimes for which he was found guilty included armed robbery, larceny, forgery, holding somebody hostage, assault and battery on a correctional officer, fraud, and carrying a dangerous weapon.

Massei was committed to Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley. He has been held at the Middlesex County Jail in Billerica since his arrest.

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