The Herald News, May 11, 2003
GREGG M. MILIOTE, Herald News Staff ReporterMay 10, 2003
FALL RIVER — Tricia Franco was once a friend of convicted murderer Robin Marie Murphy and her gang of prostitutes, pimps and Satan worshippers, but the Rhode Island resident says she is glad to have left the city before it was too late and feels terrible about the murders she has tried to forget for the past 23 years.
Franco said reading the recent news of Murphy’s request for a new trial in the cult murder of Karen Marsden in 1980 brought back a flood of memories she has repressed for two decades.
Franco was a close friend of Barbara Ann Raposa, another teen who was murdered during the same period by Andre Maltais. Raposa was brought to the woods by Murphy and Maltais on the night of her murder.
Murphy, who was the district attorney’s star witness in the case against Maltais, claimed to have witnessed the brutal murder.
Authorities believe that a third teenage prostitute, Doreen Levesque, was also killed by members of the cult, but no one was ever convicted in that case.
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“I couldn’t even bring myself to find out the details of Barbara’s murder when it happened,” Franco said. “I hung around with all of these people back in high school, but luckily I went to live in Maine just before the murders began.”
Franco said she will be contacting the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office to offer any assistance she can because she doesn’t want Murphy “to see the light of day.”
Murphy claims her constitutional rights were violated when she pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Marsden. She said she was told she would be out of prison in 15 years.
Murphy admitted to accompanying convicted murderer Carl Drew and Marsden to a remote area of Westport on the night of Marsden’s murder.
Murphy said she slit Marsden’s throat while Drew tore her head from her body. The pair, and a third man, Carl Davis, performed satanic rituals on the body.
The trio held an anointing of the blood ceremony, kicked Marsden’s head around the woods and performed sex acts on the cadaver.
“I know Robin very well. She was never a victim like she is saying,” Franco said. “She was very tough, always beating up guys. This girl knew what she was doing at all times.”
Franco said she came back to Fall River from Maine just months before the three murders occurred in 1979 and 1980. She had come back to visit Raposa.
But when she arrived in the city, Franco said Raposa was a completely different person.
“She was a mess. I tried to find out what was going on and she said she was afraid for her life,” Franco explained. “She was all drugged up, laughing and nervously giggling while telling me about how Murphy and Drew kept her and all the other prostitutes heavily medicated.”
Franco said she told her friend to get away from these people.
“She completely had her life controlled by Drew and Murphy,” Franco said. “Before this all started to happen, Barbara was a straight-A student and as sweet as can be.”
Franco said although she was close to Raposa and Murphy, she had only met Drew one time and knew he was “an evil guy.”
“Barbara told me about how they would hold these satanic ceremonies out in the woods or in Drew’s apartment,” Franco said while fighting tears. “They killed animals and did other things to scare the rest of the girls.
“I was so disturbed when I came back to Maine,” Franco said. “I could have ended up the same way.” She said she will instead fight to make sure neither Murphy nor Drew is granted a new trial.
Although a formal motion has yet to be filed, sources close to the investigation say that Drew’s legal team is working to exonerate him.
Drew is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the Marsden murder.
“I’m very concerned that these cases will just slip through,” Franco said. “I don’t want that to happen. I know what they did and how they controlled my best friend.
“I saw how Marsden’s family was upset by this, but no one was talking about Barbara. I want to do what I can.”