Thirty-seven years ago, 15-year-old Bonnie Sue Mitchell was murdered in the bathroom of a Lynn cemetery. Her ex-boyfriend was convicted and sent away for life, but Boston 25 News has learned he might get his freedom back.
George Christopher MacNeill was almost 17 years old at the time of the murder. In a confession, he told police he strangled Bonnie and left her tied to a toilet so that Bonnie would strangle herself if she later regained consciousness.
"We'll never get Bonnie back. She's gone forever. So there really is no justice for us at all," said Bonnie's niece May Hitaj.
MacNeill was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but in 2013, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder without the possibility for parole were unconstitutional. MacNeill now has a parole hearing scheduled for Jan. 15.
"Bonnie had rights. He took those rights away from her the day he murdered her. Now, he expects to have all these rights and because he's been in jail for 37 years, all should be forgiven and he should walk away? I don't see the fairness in that for anybody," said Hitaj.
In recent years, the state parole board has held hearings for many teen killers who were originally given the state's harshest sentence, life no-parole. Some have been released.
Bonnie Sue's family is convinced her killed is too dangerous to release.
"He stood behind her and held that rope and literally chocked the life out of her. That's not a human being. That's not a person. That's not somebody that can be rehabilitated," said Hitaj.
Two years ago, MacNeill first became parole eligible. He delayed his hearings, May says, so he could take some classes behind bars to increase his chances of winning. May says she will attend this parole hearing - not because she wants to, but because she feels she has to.
"I'm afraid. I'm afraid to see him. I'm afraid he will get out of jail, but at the same time, I have to be strong. We're all that's left of her. We have to be her voice. We have to stand up and fight for her," said Hitaj.
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