New England’s Unsolved: The Disappearance of Susan DeQuina

LYNN, Mass. — In October 1979, Adam DeQuina was a four-year-old boy living in Lynn with his mother and brother.

Adam’s memories are faded, but he remembers life was not easy and that his earliest years were a very chaotic time.

Recently, Adam told me about one memory that still stands out.

“My mother chased her boyfriend out of the house with a hammer,” Adam DeQuina recalled. “No one got arrested. I can remember that whole situation, just crying.”

It's a strong memory, and it's an important one, too.

That’s because the man Adam’s mother was chasing was Michele Gagnon, a member of the Quebec chapter of Hell’s Angels.

It is believed Gagnon was one of the last people to see Adam’s mother, Susan DeQuina, alive.

Susan DeQuina disappeared on the night of October 3, 1979. To this day, no one knows what happened to Susan. And Adam DeQuina is determined to find answers.

“That’s the thing that kills you: the questions. It’s like nothing solid. You can only speculate. You can only assume what happened,” Adam told me recently.

On the night Susan was last seen alive, Michele Gagnon and others who are still not identified, took Susan out. He told her he wanted to buy her a new refrigerator.

Susan hired a neighbor to babysit Adam and his brother.

About 6 p.m., Adam said goodbye to his mother as she left the house.

Adam never saw her again.

Adam's memory of his mother is fleeting.

"I remember bits and pieces, like dreams almost. I can close my mind and see her face," Adam said.

Lynn Police Captain Mark O’Toole tells me Susan lived a risky lifestyle.

“Simply associating with those individuals, dangerous individuals, those with records of firearms, crimes, assaults, narcotic dealings, traveling in those circles, can certainly be risky for anybody,” O’Toole said.

It's anyone's guess what Susan DeQuina was thinking when she left the house that night with Michele Gagnon, but it is safe to say she had no way to predict the wave of violence that swept through her circle in the next few weeks.

Soon after Susan disappeared, her car was found across town near the Saugus line, burned.

And on November 4, near the area where Susan’s car was located, police made a horrifying discovery: a human torso.

Eventually the torso was identified as the remains of Robert Garbino, a member of a Lynn Outlaw bike gang and a roommate of Michele Gagnon’s.

A search of the Lynn house Gagnon and Garbino shared, revealed even more: Garbino’s severed head and hands.

Lynn Police tried to find Michele Gagnon, but on November 25, 1979, Gagnon was found shot to death in an apartment in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Authorities suspect Gagnon's death was a suicide, but Captain O'Toole is skeptical.

"It looks like a suicide," Captain O'Toole told me. "But when you look at Gagnon's background, he didn't seem like a candidate to take his own life."

Adam DeQuina and Lynn Police don't believe Susan DeQuina is still alive. Adam doesn't think his mother would abandon her children and Lynn Police say there is no evidence that Susan lived beyond October 3, 1979.

Why would anyone want to kill Susan DeQuina?

Here’s a possible motive: Lynn Police believe Susan had threatened to breakup with Michele Gagnon because the motorcycle gang was using her credit cards to rent cars that were used to move drugs.

Left unanswered is why Robert Garbino was murdered and dismembered? Garbino’s grisly death likely served as a warning to someone. But who?

And then there is Michele Gagnon himself. He is connected to two victims, and shortly afterwards, died a violent death.

If he committed suicide, why did he do it?

And if he didn't, why was he killed? How does Susan's disappearance fit into this?

So many unanswered questions.

But at the heart of it is the fate of Susan DeQuina. Where is she right now?

Four decades is a long time to search for answers. But Adam DeQuina is determined to find them.

"I'm the last man standing," Adam told me. "Hopefully we can get some kind of closure for my family."

If you can help, call Lynn Police at 781-595-2000.