New London man arraigned in 'extremely gruesome' murder case

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Delma Murphy
A family photo of New London murder victim Delma Murphy. Photo courtesy the Murphy family

New London resident David McKeever, who court officials say is legally blind, hearing impaired and mentally ill, was arraigned today in Superior Court on charges that he fatally stabbed his live-in girlfriend at their home on 53 Cole St.

McKeever, 47, is charged with murder in the death of 46-year-old Delma Murphy.

Autopsy results were expected to be released later Thursday, but a police report indicates that Murphy, found unclothed in her bed, appeared to have suffered "multiple deep puncture wounds consistent with stab type injuries about her body to include her chest, abdomen, hands and legs."

"This is an extremely, extremely gruesome murder," prosecutor Sarah W. Bowman said at McKeever's arraignment.

Judge Omar Williams set McKeever's bond at $1.25 million and transferred the case to the court where major crimes are heard.

According to a police report, McKeever and Murphy have a history of domestic violence incidents.

A friend who had not seen the victim since last Friday went to the home to check on her at about 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

McKeever told the friend Murphy was upstairs sleeping and did not want to be disturbed.

The friend, who is unidentified in the police report, noticed broken glass from a china cabinet and mirror on the floor, and McKeever told her he had "gone on a rampage."

The friend told police that Murphy sometimes drinks heavily and that she figured the couple had argued about her drinking.

But while she helped McKeever clean up the broken glass, McKeever told her, "I think I did something bad. I think I killed her," according to the police report.

The friend said she went upstairs and found Murphy in bed, cold to the touch, and called 911.

First responders noted blood on the wall and steps, and at the top of the stairs found a large, blood-stained knife on the floor.

According to police, when questioned, McKeever said that he had become upset a few nights earlier and left the house.

He said Murphy asked him to come back into the house so she could calm him down.

"I thought I could control her with my mind, so I stabbed her with a knife," he told police.

Murphy had worked in the restaurant industry in and around New London for decades.

She was currently employed as a banquet manager at the Port 'N Starboard at Ocean Beach.

"It's a tremendous loss," said Dave Sugrue, general manager of Ocean Beach. "We're all still trying to understand it here."

Murphy had a "can-do" attitude and customers loved her, Sugrue said.

"You wouldn't have known there was trouble there," he said. "She always showed up with her A-game."

Across the street from the Broad Street courthouse where McKeever was arraigned, customers at the Little Galapagos Restaurant and Bar were mourning their longtime friend.

Murphy had worked there for a time and also had been a bartender when the business was known as the Sundowner.

"She was a good soul," said Nancy Halprin, a longtime friend. "She thought she could help everyone in the world. She was happy if everyone around her was happy, and now everyone's sad."

The police report indicates Murphy was wrapped in towels and covered with a comforter.

Blood-covered clothing was found between the bed and the wall, according to the police report.

In addition to the stab wounds, she appeared to have defensive wounds on her hands.

Supported by a judicial marshal during his court appearance, McKeever, whose back and neck are heavily tattooed, slumped and appeared almost unresponsive as he stood before Judge Williams in a hospital gown.

Police said that during their investigation, he was acting erratically and was taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital for a psychological evaluation. 

He also struggled with police and additionally was charged with interfering with police and disorderly conduct.

It is unclear how long Murphy had been dead.

The friend who found her body Wednesday had become concerned when Murphy did not respond to voice messages left on Monday and Tuesday, but did not immediately check on her because Murphy sometimes ran out of minutes on her cellphone.

Murphy's supervisor, who is not identified in the police report, told police that Murphy had failed to show up at work on Saturday, which is out of character.

The supervisor drove by the Cole Street home on Monday evening and saw Murphy's car parked in front of the house.

The supervisor could hear the television on, but left the home after ringing the doorbell and banging on the side door and window and getting no response.

At the arraignment, attorney Jassette A. Henry from the public defender's office said McKeever is 100 percent disabled and collects Social Security.

She said he has lived in Connecticut since 1987 and has a history of hospitalizations for mental illness.

She said he takes medications but she doesn't believe he currently is on any medications.

"I submit any admissions he made were not of sound mind," she said. "At this time, his mental health is in question."

Judge Williams ordered the Department of Correction to provide McKeever with medical attention and a mental health evaluation.

McKeever's next court appearance is Dec. 1.

k.florin@theday.com

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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