Sunday, August 23, 1998

Police officer is adamant about boy's grave spot

By Mark E. Vogler
Eagle-Tribune Writer

LAWRENCE -- Most Lawrence police familiar with the Andy Puglisi case believe the 10-year-old Lawrence boy's body was buried in a shallow grave somewhere near his South Lawrence home in the summer of 1976.

Veteran Lawrence police officer Michael J. Carelli thinks police could have found him if they kept digging 15 years ago in an area north of the Higgins Memorial Pool, bordering the Shawsheen River.

Lawrence Police Office Michael J. Carelli points out the area he believes Andy Puglisi may have been buried.
"I still feel he's over there, in the dump area where we excavated in 1982," said Officer Carelli, who last week revisited the area.

The officer said he believes Andy lies buried in an area 15 feet wide and 75 feet long, on the bank of the Shawsheen. It is at the edge of a paved walking path near a soccer field behind South Lawrence East School.

Officer Carelli's hunch is based on information from a Texas psychic he recruited in 1982 to find Andy. The officer, who served as police department hypnotist, met Andrew Barnhart during a seminar at Texas A&M University.

Mr. Barnhart, who was credited with finding other bodies for police departments throughout the country, convinced the officer he had accurate visions of where Andy was buried. The city paid $1,500 for the psychic's first trip.

But after three days of digging, no body turned up.

Officer Carelli believes a "circus atmosphere" distracted the pyschic.

"The only thing they needed were balloons and vendors," he said.

"If word didn't leak out to the media, and he was able to go about his business like he wanted to do, I don't think we'd be talking about this case today," he said.

Mr. Barnhart was one of several psychics called in to help find the boy.

Mr. Barnhart shocked police with his accurate details about Andy, Mr. Chapman and the area where the search was conducted. The pyschic even told about a checkered shirt Andy was wearing in a photo that was yet developed on the day he vanished.

"I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of Andrew Barnhart. The only thing missing is the red arrow he said would point to the grave," said Officer Carelli.

"He told people things about their own personal lives that made them believe. The man had credentials and he had helped other police departments solve cases," he said.

"But he disappeared off the face of the earth. I have no idea where he is now," he said.

Officer Carelli said he believes the only hope of solving the case is if the primary suspect, Wayne W. Chapman, confesses and tells police where the body is buried.

Mr. Barnhart was unable to interview Mr. Chapman, who was "petrified" of the psychic, Officer Carelli said.

Officer Carelli hopes that some day Mr. Chapman's conscience will bother him to the point where he will want to be rid his guilt.

"Personally, I hope that some day, we can solve this case -- whether through happenstance, circumstance or confession. Then, the Puglisi family can have some peace of mind and put a flower down where the body can finally come to rest," he said.

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