WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — A man who fatally stabbed, slashed and hit his wife, mother-in-law and two young children at their home in Massachusetts after an argument over a bounced check has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Thomas Mortimer IV pleaded guilty in Woburn Superior Court to first-degree murder by deliberate meditation and extreme atrocity and cruelty in the deaths of his mother-in-law, Ellen Stone; his wife, Laura Stone Mortimer; and their two children, 2-year-old Charlotte and 4-year-old Thomas Mortimer V, nicknamed Finn.
Court documents indicate that the 4-year-old witnessed the brutal killings of his mother, grandmother and sister before he died between June 14 and June 15, 2010.
"I did these horrible things," Thomas Mortimer wrote in one of two confessions that prosecutors found in the house. "What I have done is extremely selfish and cowardly."
In the note, Mortimer said he flew into a rage after he and his wife argued over a bounced check he sent to the Internal Revenue Service.
Prosecutors say Mortimer killed the victims shortly after his parents left their home after babysitting his two children for the day. They described in court a gruesome attack that left Laura with dozens of stab wounds as well as a broken nose from a frying pan.
"I am especially sorry to Finn that he had to witness these horrid acts. It was not supposed to be this way. I disgust myself," Mortimer said in the note.
Prosecutors said emergency responders found the victims' bodies in pools of blood after Mortimer's sister-in-law, Deborah Stone Sochat, reported that her mother and sister had not answered repeated phone calls. The children's throats were slashed. Mortimer's mother-in-law was killed near the doorway, apparently as she tried to flee the home, Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Lynch said in court.
Mortimer, who grew up in Avon, Conn., was caught the next day in northwestern Massachusetts.
He indicated in the written confession he left behind that he was in turmoil after the killings.
"I can't think of much else. Actually I can think of a lot ... Ashamed, frightened, relieved, surprised that I murdered my family. Disgusted with myself," he said in the note.
Stone Sochat gave a tearful statement Wednesday, calling her mother and sister her best friends.