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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Waltham authorities helpless in Sept murder investigation

Waltham triple homicide answers still largely unanswered two months later

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Featured

Nearly two months after police officers rushed to 12 Harding Ave. on a September afternoon and found three men dead in a triple homicide; nearly two months after reporters from every Boston TV station stood behind the yellow crime scene tape, surrounded by flashing red and blue lights, demanding updates from Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone and airing interviews with neighbors on the nightly news; and nearly two months after three men under the age of 40 were stabbed to death in the neck just three miles from Brandeis University, law enforcement is still searching for answers, officials said Thursday.

The seasons have turned since the warm night on Sept. 12 when detectives began an investigation into the triple murder of Brendan Mess, 25, of Waltham; Erik Weissman, 31, of Cambridge; and Raphael Teken, 37, of Cambridge, who graduated from Brandeis in 1998 and majored in history. Updates on the investigation have not been noticeable.

After describing the apartment that night as a “very graphic crime scene” Leone later released a statement saying that “based on the present state of the investigation, it is believed that the victims knew the assailant or assailants, and the attacks were not random.”

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Leone said there was an “ongoing investigation” and “no further updates at this time.” When prompted for more information, she declined to comment, repeating the same line.

Waltham Police Sgt. Tim King said the District Attorney’s Office and State Police were working on an investigation with his department but have no new updates to report.

Although the Waltham police cruisers, state police detectives dressed in dark suits and Leone’s black Chevy SUV no longer crowd the intersection of Harding Avenue and Main Street, King said he was certain that officials were still investigating the case.

But for the families of Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman and Raphael Teken the pace of that investigation reflects the painful truth that the headline of a triple homicide in the city of Waltham with three bodies found covered in marijuana sounds different than an innocent life slain in the suburb of Wayland or Weston.

A murder in the suburbs appears on the front page of The Boston Globe and the nightly FOX 25 news for an entire week, demanding a search for answers from a public outrage. Murders in the city make the headlines and nightly news for one day and then they disappear. And at Brandeis, students feel a world apart from the families and young children who stood behind the yellow police tape in awe on Sept. 12, asking how such a brutal murder could occur just steps from their quiet homes that fill the neighborhood.

A Facebook tribute page for a young girl found murdered in Wayland gets nearly 20,000 people to like it. Raphael Teken’s page gets only 71.

“You were a good man with a good heart and never deserved anything like this to happen to you,” one friend of Teken’s wrote on the Facebook page in September.

At Brandeis, The Hoot has been unable to find anyone who knew Teken, but classmate John Bohn told The Brookline Tab about Teken’s passion and kind spirit.

“Rafi got addicted to most of the things he enjoyed and he put all of his effort and energy into them, understanding them to their core, becoming an expert. For all of the talk about him never doing anything with his time or his life, you have to recognize that he put more effort into his hobbies than I ever put into anything in my life,” Bohn told The Brookline Tab.

“I think what most people will never know about Rafi is that he was a good friend, a sweet and fun-loving guy who wanted to help people. He just couldn’t figure out how to turn that into a socially acceptable endeavor,” Bohn said.

As the high holidays brought a season to reflect on the preciousness of life, families like the Tekens in Brookline are still grieving, searching for answers and meaning to the irreplaceable hole in their lives. And police are still investigating.