A 16-year-old student was arrested and charged Saturday after a teen’s body was found decapitated near a river in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
The victim, Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, had been missing since November 18 of this year.
His body was found by a resident walking their dog near the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club Thursday in a scene described as “gruesome”.
The suspect, Mathew Borges, believed to be a fellow student that attended Lawrence High School with the victim, was arrested the following morning.
“He will be arraigned at Lawrence District Court on a count of murder of the first degree and will be charged as an adult,” said Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
Viloria-Paulino, a 10th grader at the high school, was last seen November 18. A friend close to the family said that he left his phone at wallet at home when he disappeared.
Family and friends took to social media and alerted the police, but no new information was uncovered in the weeks after.
It wasn’t until a woman walking her dog alongside the river bank noticed the body and alerted authorities. The victim was found decapitated, and his head was discovered some 50-feet away.
“This was a gruesome, vicious crime,” said family friend Linette Perez.
The family also spoke out against the way the police and authorities handled the case from the initial missing persons report. They claim police treated the disappearance as a runaway situation without considering other options.
“We disagree with the investigation of the police at the beginning,” said the victim’s grandfather, Gustavo Paulino.
He also said that local police only began paying closer attention to the case after state police became involved.
The family insists that they do not feel safe in the city of Lawrence anymore.
“Just the other day he asked permission from his grandmother to go to a party, she said yes and dropped him off, and he called her back 30 minutes later saying it wasn’t his scene and he wanted to come home,” said Perez. She described him as just a normal boy trying to live life as a normal teenager.
Family and friends gathered in the teen’s family home for a personal vigil and expressed their condolences. Another vigil was held at the high school where the victim was enrolled.