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October 9, 2013

Editorial: Lenient Pike term can't diminish work of dedicated police

If a state prison sentence of 14 to 15 years sounds lenient for a crime that even a Superior Court judge described Tuesday as a “hideous murder,” (see news story, Page 1), there’s a good reason for that:

It is.

Yet the 14- to 15-year term handed to one-time Gloucester teenager Norman Pike firmed up Tuesday as part of a plea agreement — while frankly shortchanging Wadsworth family members who were seeking justice and talked Tuesday of the devastating effect the killing had on their extended family — should not, in any way, diminish the work of the Gloucester Police Department on this extraordinary case.

And that especially includes the efforts of then-Chief of Detectives and now-former interim chief Mike Lane and longtime detective Steve Mizzoni, who worked the case after revisiting and reopening it three years ago, and who remained committed to finding answers, at last, to a three-decades-old Gloucester murder mystery that clearly shocked the community at the time — and, in some ways, had hovered as a cloud over it for too many years going forward.

Lawrence Superior Court Judge Richard E. Welch sentenced Pike to his 14-15 years in a state prison Tuesday, a day after Pike ultimately agreed to a manslaughter plea just minutes before the court was about to begin his trial in first-degree murder charges.

By virtually all counts, no, Pike was not the shooter who fired three bullets into the 65-year-old woman who had long worked as manager for the Pike Funeral Home, then solely owned by Norman Pike’s grandfather, Harold.

Reportedly, the one who pulled the trigger was a man named Richard Kennedy, who died in 2003 in Florida. The other man charged in the case, Gloucester resident Keith Ireland, walked in 2012 after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of breaking and entering, agreeing to cooperate with police against Pike, and drawing a prison term of six to seven years in prison, but with just two years to serve — and that credited for time already served.

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