July 15, 2013

Mass. killer of two admits to a third slaying

The former handyman, who is serving a life sentence, confesses he killed a boy, 16, in Massachusetts in 1992.

The Associated Press

WESTFIELD, Mass. – A man already serving a life sentence for killing two children is also responsible for the disappearance and death of a Westfield teenager more than 20 years ago, Massachusetts law enforcement authorities said Monday.

click image to enlarge

In this April 29, 1996 file photo, Lewis Lent Jr. is led from the Berkshire County Courthouse in Pittsfield, Mass., after a competency hearing was postponed. Massachusetts law enforcement authorities said Monday, July 15, 2013, that Lent, who is serving a life sentence for killing two children, also is responsible for the disappearance and death of James Lusher, 16, who was never seen again after leaving his Westfield, Mass., home on a bicycle ride in 1992. (AP Photo/Alan Solomon)

Related headlines

Lewis Lent Jr. has confessed to killing James Lusher, 16, who was never seen again after leaving his home on a bicycle ride in 1992, Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni said at a news conference. Lent confessed after getting assurance that he would not be tried for the death, the district attorney said.

Lent, a former handyman and janitor from North Adams, was convicted of the 1990 killing of Jimmy Bernardo, 12, of Pittsfield. He also pleaded guilty to the 1993 abduction and slaying of Sara Ann Wood, also 12, of Norwich Corners in central New York. Her body was never found.

Lent gave investigators great detail about Lusher's death, Mastroianni said, including where his body could be found. Police will begin a search of a large pond in Becket on Tuesday, state police Col. Timothy Alben said. He said the pond is 88 square acres and 58 feet deep in some places.

"It's a daunting task," he said.

Lusher, known as Jamie, was last seen pedaling away from his Westfield home on the way to his grandmother's house in nearby Blandford. His bike was recovered in the woods days later, but he was never seen again. Authorities even drained a pond near where the bike was found without success.

"To this day, when I see a kid, a 16-year-old kid on a bike with black hair, I will instinctively look," the victim's father, James Lusher, told reporters. "My closure is finding my son."

Lusher loved riding his bike, loved dogs, loved playing in the woods and loved getting dirty, his sister, Jennifer, said Monday. She described her brother as "a little spark that if you didn't catch it right you missed something awesome."

During his 1996 trial for the slaying of Jimmy Bernardo, prosecutors say Lent had a "master plan" to kidnap children for sex and hide them in his apartment.

Prosecutors said Lent kidnapped Bernardo on Oct. 22, 1990, after luring him inside the Pittsfield movie theater where Lent worked as a custodian. Police said Lent held the boy overnight and then drove him to Newfane, N.Y., about 250 miles away, and strangled him. Hunters found his body weeks later.

Sara Anne Wood disappeared on Aug. 18, 1993, while riding her bicycle near her home.

Lent's lawyers had argued in the Bernardo case that he was not mentally competent to stand trial because he suffered from an unspecified brain disorder. Lent told police and psychologists that he suffers from memory blackouts, sees flashing bright lights and sometimes hears a voice in his head named Stephen — Lent's middle name. He also said he once had an encounter with space aliens.

Psychologists for the prosecution, however, argued that Lent was faking mental illness.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)