Suspect in death of woman found at Athol wastewater plant held without bail

Suspect in death of woman found at Athol wastewater plant held without bail

ORANGE, Mass. — A man accused of killing a 26-year-old mother and then dumping her body near a wastewater treatment facility appeared in court for the first time.

Keith Hamel, 23, of Athol, was arrested in the town's downtown area on Monday and then faced a judge in Orange on Tuesday, the same day of the funeral held for the victim, Kelsey Clifford.

"We made a personal commitment to her family and her 4-year-old son Jaiden that we will be there moving forward and we made a commitment that he will know what a wonderful mother Kelsey was and share all the stories," said Brian Campbell, the victim's uncle.

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Clifford's family members, in court, were lashing out at him, calling Hamel an animal. His friends, however, defended his innocence.

"Definitely go find the dude who did that," said Markus Luchock, one of Hamel's friends. "That's not Keith, he's not capable of this kind of thing."

Prosecutors said Hamel was last seen with Clifford leaving her car at a Cumberland Farms in Athol just hours before her body was found at the wastewater plant. Court paperwork alleges Hamel beat and killed Clifford.

A sweatshirt with her blood and his DNA was found between the plant and his house.

According to her family, Clifford is a mother of a four-year-old and has been sorely missed by her loved ones.

"She was very free-spirited," said Shiane Cordio, a friend of the victim. "I do not believe anytime they give either is justice enough, I want to look into his eyes and see if he has a soul because how can you do that to somebody? She just turned 26."

Hamel sat in the prison holding area of the courtroom throughout the arraignment. He pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

Very little details are being released on this case.