In Wake of Schena Murder, Police Chief Gillen Calls Groveland a ‘Wonderful Place to Live’

Groveland's town hall paid tribute to the late Patsy Schena on June 28. (WHAV News photograph)

As Groveland neighbors continue to reel from the June 21 murder of beloved former building inspector Patsy Schena, Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen tells WHAV it was an isolated incident that should not cause concern for the community at large.

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett and Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen spoke June 28. (WHAV News photograph)

Speaking in a press conference Friday alongside Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett and the team of local and state law enforcement officials that helped capture Schena’s accused killer, 48-year-old Haverhill man Leedell Graham, Gillen said the town’s first murder in nearly 30 years has bent but will not break the town of 6,800.

“Groveland remains a safe community and we, the members of Groveland Police, work every day to make sure it remains that way,” Gillen said. “As a community, we will stay strong to rebuild and continue to work together to make this a wonderful place to live.”

As WHAV previously reported, Cedar Street’s Graham was taken into custody Thursday night just before 9 p.m. by Haverhill Police at his home on a warrant out of Groveland and booked at the Haverhill Police station by Det. Sean Scharneck on a single count of murder. Haverhill was aided in the arrest by Groveland’s Det. Sgt. Heather Riley, among others. WHAV was in the courtroom Friday morning as Graham appeared before First Justice Stephen Abany during arraignment and was ordered held without bail.

During Friday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo revealed that Graham was seen on public and private surveillance cameras walking from Haverhill into Groveland and into Schena’s home at 4:16 p.m. on June 21. Schena arrived home at 4:23 p.m. and a call to Groveland Police came in just before midnight. A forensic investigation done by Groveland Police Saturday morning determined he was killed Friday night.

Patsy Schena (Courtesy photograph)

A State Police investigation—coupled with evidence found by passersby less than a mile from Schena’s home—led officials to determine Schena’s death was the result of “blunt and sharp force trauma.” The murder weapon, according to DePaulo, is believed to be a lamp.

Schena and Graham are said to have known one another through business dealings not related to his town position.

Gillen, for one, will miss his friend—a Haverhill native buried in the city’s Linwood Cemetery over the weekend—around town.

“Mr. Schena was the building inspector here in Groveland from 1979-2015. He was very popular and well known and he was a gentleman,” Gillen remembered. “He was well liked by everyone that knew him. I personally knew him and it’s cut to the core of our community. He was a wonderful man.”

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