By Marjorie Nesin
---- — The local woman who brutally murdered a Gloucester mother, stabbing the woman 108 times in her Mansfield Street home in 1998, has been denied her bid for parole in a unanimous decision released last week by the Massachusetts Parole Board.
Barbara Goucher pleaded guilty to her crime in 1999, 500 days after she stabbed Florence “Bunny” Munroe, then tried to cover up her involvement by seeking out a false alias and thoroughly cleaning the woman’s home. Now, more than 14 years later, she failed to show sufficient remorse for her violent actions, and showed no history of participating in drug rehabilitation programs despite the fact that drugs fueled the Munroe’s murder, according to the board’s official decision.
“Ms. Goucher’s responses focused on her remorse for taking Ms. Munroe’s life; however, she appeared to struggle with appreciating that the level of violence she inflected puts her in a small category of offenders,” the board wrote. “The (Munroe) family and board members expressed concern that Ms. Goucher may not appreciate the gravity of how many people were affect by Ms. Munroe’s death.”
Goucher has served 15 years of a life sentence for the second degree murder charge, and this year marked her first eligibility for parole.
According to court documents, Munroe had allowed Goucher, who was reportedly indigent and drug-addicted, to live in her home for a period of time, but eventually asked her to leave. Goucher returned to the home and chased Munroe around the house, grasping for her purse and stabbing her in a pursuit of money and drugs, according to court documents. Goucher had stolen a $50 hand-held gaming device and other items from Munroe and her then-13-year-old daughter while living in their home, and she was unable to repay the debt.
Munroe’s children — including the daughter, who discovered her body after the slaying — spoke against Goucher’s release at her March 26 parole hearing.
“Tammy Munroe provided testimony of how finding her mother’s body has resulted in her own trauma history and as a result, her own children have suffered,” the parole board noted.
Goucher gave a tearful opening statement at her parole hearing, according to documents. She accepted responsibility for Munroe’s death, but said her drug addiction and drug abuse had led to her actions. Goucher acknowledged her continued struggle with her own anger, but spoke about her desires to “learn responsibility all over again” and to “learn to co-exist again in society in a productive manner.”
Essex Assistant District Attorney Elin Graydon, prosecuting the case, argued the basis of Goucher’s goals and insisted that Goucher has not demonstrated her desire to overcome her demons because she has yet to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program or in anger management counseling.
“Before she was incarcerated, she did not live responsibly or as a productive member of society,” Graydon said. “Moreover, it does not appear that she has engaged in significant programming specifically to address her anger and impulsiveness.”
Goucher told the board she had focused her time instead on enrolling in occupational and educational classes. A Boston Globe article about a program that connects military veterans with assistance dogs trained in jails, featured Barbara Goucher as a program participant in 2007. The prosecution noted that Goucher has not participated in that program since September 2012.
The parole board, in deciding against granting Goucher parole, noted that members could not be certain that, if released, Goucher would follow the law and not be “incompatible with the welfare of society.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.