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Old 07-19-2002, 08:20 AM   #1
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Random, Senseless Acts Of Violence

This just happened in Massachusetts. I just can't stop thinking about that poor woman and her valiant struggle to save her own life. I keep putting myself in her place, and I can't even conceive of the horror..

Woman slain at Route 24 rest stop

By Francie Latour, Globe Staff and Emily Ramshaw, Globe Correspondent, 7/19/2002

BRIDGEWATER - On the other side of the bathroom door, she would find cars, lights, people, the highway - safety, if Alexandra Zapp could dodge the man blocking the way out with his body, and a knife.

The man had seen her pull in to the rest stop off Route 24, prosecutors said, wearing flip-flops and clutching her wallet and keys as she headed for the ladies' room in the early morning hours yesterday. He had pulled the knife and he had waited for her. Zapp opened the door to her attacker, and what police say happened next surprised no one who knew the fiery athlete: She began to struggle.

Zapp weighed less than 100 pounds, but she was strong. Prosecutors said she fought savagely against Paul J. Leahy, biting and head-butting her way out of his grip. Then, already bloody and still cornered by the stalls, she tried to reason with her killer: If he let her go, she would tell others that Leahy had rescued her from another attacker.

Her pleas failed: Moments later, the struggle began again, and shortly before dawn it ended with her death.

In a random killing already raising new questions about the state's sex offender registry, Leahy, 39, of East Bridgewater, was charged with murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, and armed assault. Within hours of the murder, Bridgewater police officials revealed that they had known about Leahy for years. He is a convicted rapist with a criminal record stretching back 19 years. But a backlog in the classification of sex offenders in the state prevented his name from being registered.

Police said Zapp, who was heading home to Newport, R.I., was stabbed repeatedly in the neck, chest, hands, and shoulders after she bolted for the door hoping to escape. In details they said came from Leahy's own vivid statements to police, prosecutors said Zapp threw herself to the floor, trying desperately to kick Leahy as he overpowered her.

''She walked into that restroom, and she never came out alive,'' said Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton, describing in a Brockton courtroom yesterday the brutal struggle that unfolded as Leahy, an employee of the Burger King at the service stop on Route 24 southbound in Bridgewater, allegedly stabbed the 30-year-old Zapp to death.

''Anybody willing to do what he did to an innocent woman is nothing else than a cold-blooded killer,'' said Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz.

Help came within seconds of the stabbing, but there would be no rescue. At about 4:20 a.m., an off-duty State Police officer who had stopped for gas heard thuds and groans through the wall as he entered the adjoining men's room.

Still in uniform, Lieutenant Stephen O'Reilly dipped his boot into the blood he saw coming from the women's room, according to a State Police spokesman. It was still wet, and as O'Reilly approached the door with his gun drawn, he could hear the sound of running water.

When he opened the door, prosecutors said, O'Reilly found Leahy standing by a sink and holding Zapp's wallet. All around him, O'Reilly told police, bloody streaks covered the restroom walls. Steps away, behind the second-to-last bathroom stall, O'Reilly said, he saw the lower half of Zapp's body.

''`I lost it, I lost it,''' O'Reilly told police Leahy said to him, moments before a lifeless Zapp was rushed to Morton Hospital in Taunton. At 5:40 a.m., just over an hour after her Volvo pulled into the side entrance of the Burger King, Zapp was pronounced dead.

A court-appointed lawyer for Leahy, Frank Spillane, said he would have no comment on the charges until Leahy's court appearance Aug. 8.

Calling the crime heinous, Middleton asked that Leahy be held without bail. As the prosecutor recounted the details of the killing for 15 minutes yesterday, Leahy never lifted his head. He kept his head down as Middleton described Leahy's lengthy criminal record, which began at age 18.

It began with motor vehicle violations, but the crimes quickly turned violent, and then sexual, after Leahy was convicted in 1984 of entering the home of a 13-year-old Brockton girl, forcing her into a bathroom at knifepoint, and assaulting her.

Then, after a short stint in the Plymouth County House of Correction, Leahy walked into a Brockton pizza shop, forced a woman into a back room, and raped her. He served 13 years of a 15-year sentence for the charge. By 2000, he was back in court again, this time charged with accosting a minor and asking her to perform oral sex. He served six months in county jail, and sometime later he began working at the Burger King on Route 24.

As a convicted rapist, Leahy would be a candidate for the state's sex offender registry. But because of legal challenges, the registry board was blocked from processing cases until last year. As a result, only 1,000 of 18,000 offenders have been registered.

Officials at Burger King would not comment on Leahy's employment or whether they conducted a routine background check before hiring him. In a statement, the fast-food chain said only that it was saddened by the crime and was working with authorities in the investigation.

In Newport, at Papers, the stationery store where Zapp worked part time, friends and customers gathered to grieve and express shock at Zapp's murder.

''We can't comprehend that it happened, even now,'' said Judith Carroll, who owns the store. ''It should not have happened to her.''

To Zapp's friends, she was known as Ally, a confessed daddy's girl whose personality towered over her diminutive size. From horseback riding to sailing - in which she was certified to instruct - she had a voracious appetite for life, according to her friends.

''She was so full of energy and a nonstop talker. She was always telling us stories,'' said Carroll. ''An elegant lady with a bubbly personality. She commanded an audience. She had so much charisma, people were just attracted to her.''

An animal lover, Zapp cared for her coworkers' pets when they were out of town. She had been working at Papers for about 18 months. Absorbing the loss yesterday, Carroll embraced customers as they rushed into the store.

Recalling Zapp's athletic physique and ease at hoisting heavy boxes through the store, Carroll and employees imagined aloud that she put up a gutsy fight before succumbing to her attacker. ''Ally was not a naive young lady,'' Carroll said. ''She was strong physically and mentally.''

Zapp was a keelboat training coordinator at USA Sailing Association in Portsmouth. Monday was her last day in that post.

''We are greatly saddened to announce that former US SAILING Keelboat coordinator and caring friend Ally Zapp was murdered early this morning,'' the organization said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. ''On behalf of the entire US SAILING family, we express our sincerest condolences to her family and friends.''

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 7/19/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Old 07-19-2002, 09:04 AM   #2
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I can't imagine what drives humans to commit these kinds of random violent acts against other humans that never had any connection to them, never did them wrong, never even spoke to them. And the notion that we let animals like this out on the streets and call it justice...it turns my stomach.

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Old 07-19-2002, 11:08 AM   #3
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This is just awful. I can't comprehend either why someone would commit such a sadistic act to an innocent person. He should have been in prison in the first place.
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Old 07-19-2002, 12:41 PM   #4
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they should have known better than to let him on the street...he was a volcano that erruped so many times in the past, they had to know it was going to happen again...and it kept getting worse and worse...logic people...logic
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Old 07-19-2002, 12:52 PM   #5
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Of course, everyone should be able to go anywhere they want at anytime and not get murdered, but this story can be a good lesson for us all.

Ally Zapp didn't do anything we wouldn't have done in her place. She must have had to go badly. She pulled into a rest stop in the wee hours of the morning and went into a deserted restroom alone. I'm sure that she thought it would only take a second and maybe she told herself that nothing could possibly happen in that time. But it did.

I don't know what I would have done differently, but her story will defintely make me think twice the next time I find myself in a similar situation. Because of her I will remember how quickly something so mundane as a restroom trip can go so wrong. Maybe other women will think twice too.

Its an absolute shame that we have to, or that this sh*t happens at all, but if we take an extra safety lesson from her case it might prevent it from happening to us someday.

God rest her brave soul.

Is anyone here in favor of chemical castration for sex offenders? I hear it also makes men less violent too, although I can't pretend that I know all the facts about it.
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Old 07-19-2002, 01:33 PM   #6
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That's just what I was thinking Whiteflag. You take your 'normal' precautions every day, but how often do you do certain things or go to certain places where you never dream such a thing could happen?

My attitude is that I am safe NOWHERE and in NO situation. The State Trooper says that while he was so grateful to catch this animal, he can't stop thinking about 'if only I had been there a few minutes earlier'

You just have to love that red tape that makes the sex offender registry useless. Also, I recently saw a news report about how many convicted criminals work in fast food places, or service jobs such as carpet cleaning,where they go into peoples' homes and commit rape or murder. Most of these companies do no criminal background checks because it's 'too expensive' for them.
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Old 07-19-2002, 02:50 PM   #7
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May she rest in peace. This story actually has me sobbing at my desk. It's so hard to live in a world where we have to be on guard at every moment. I hope her family and friends are able to cope with the tragedy.

And hopefully, this time, they'll give that monster the a real sentence.
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Old 07-19-2002, 05:42 PM   #8
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Unbelievable..yes, we MUST protect the rights of these sex offenders at all costs

And just what I was saying about the background checks-they wouldn't spend a lousy $25 to do one on this guy The DA was trying to get him jailed last year as a sexually dangerous person, but red tape delayed the hearing until next month.

Rapist Allegedly Lied On Job Application
State Had Not Gotten Around To Leahy's Sex Offender Hearing

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Paul Leahy, the Burger King worker accused of killing a woman at a Route 24 rest stop bathroom, was convicted and served time for raping a woman in 1984 at another restaurant where he worked, but the public didn't know about it because of a state Supreme Court ruling.

Leahy was arrested Thursday for allegedly fatally stabbing Alexandra Zapp, 30, of Newport, R.I., inside a rest stop restroom in Bridgewater, Mass.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that Leahy, 39, served time in prison for the 1984 rape of a woman at knifepoint in Brockton, Mass., and was released in 1998. He then registered with the police in East Bridgewater, Mass., as a sex offender, but his status was never made public because of a ruling by the state's Supreme Judicial Court says all sex offenders must be given hearings before their sex offender status can be made public.

There are 17,000 sex offenders in the state, but only 1,000 of them have been given hearings so far, Huff reported, and Leahy, who spent most of the last 20 years in prison, was one of the sex offenders who hadn't yet had a hearing. If he had, his neighbors and co-workers would have been warned that he had a violent criminal past.

Leahy, however, lied about his criminal record on his Burger King job application six months ago and the company apparently did not spend $25 to do a background check on him.

Burger King won't comment on the crime but said it is cooperating with the investigation.


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Old 07-19-2002, 10:05 PM   #9
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I travel Route 24 every single time I go visit my best friend.

God Bless this woman.

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Old 07-19-2002, 10:13 PM   #10
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Originally posted by Peaseblossom
It's so hard to live in a world where we have to be on guard at every moment. I hope her family and friends are able to cope with the tragedy.
That scares me. That's one of the reasons I'm not sure if I can have children. As it is, I worry about friends and family sometimes to an extreme...I can't imagine the type of worry I'd have about my own child.

"Knight in shining Zubaz."

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