A vigil is scheduled to be held Thursday night for a mother who was found dead in a recycling bin behind her home in Medford, Massachusetts, earlier this week.
Police have increased patrols in the city as they continue to investigate the suspicious death.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said Barbara Hovey Novaes, 61, of Medford, was first reported missing by her son around 6:45 a.m. Monday.
He told police he had last seen his mom Sunday afternoon at the home they shared on Emery Street in Medford, and he believed she was leaving for a nail appointment. He also reported that the front door of their home was open when he woke up Monday, and that he found his mom's keys, phone, and purse, and her car was still in the driveway.
Medford police responded to the home to investigate, and an officer found Novaes' body around 8:30 a.m. inside a recycling container in an enclosed area under the porch in the backyard, Ryan said.
There were no obvious signs of trauma, but based on the circumstances and the location of Novaes' body, officials are investigating this as a suspicious death. Officials are currently awaiting autopsy results to determine how Novaes died and whether or not this is a homicide.
The district attorney said the Medford Police Department had past contact with Novaes for a variety of reasons but did not elaborate. Police logs show Medford police were called twice to the home on Nov. 16, 2021 for a suicidal threat.
There were also two other police responses to the home. One on Feb. 8, 2022, for an identity fraud report, and another on April 21, 2022, for a disturbance.
The investigation into Novaes' death is active and ongoing, authorities have said.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have been in the Emery Street neighborhood Sunday night or early Monday to contact them. Detectives are also looking to speak with anyone who may have video that would show the Emery Street area and down onto Winthrop Street. The Medford Police Department can be reached at 781-395-1212.
Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn said at a press conference Monday night that Novaes was a beloved member of the Medford community who touched many people's lives, though she said she did not know Novaes personally.
Novaes is being remembered by many as caring, compassionate and kind -- not only in Medford where she lived, but also in Everett where she worked.
The vice chairman of the Everett School Committee said Novaes positively impacted both Massachusetts communities in such a way that it won't be forgotten.
"Barbara was truly the model of kindness, compassion, and caring. She truly cared about others and always went out of her way to show that. Barbara always had a friendly smile and warm welcome to anyone she came in contact with. When you think of individuals who left a handprint on bettering others lives, Barbara fit that better then most," Michael McLaughlin said, noting his thoughts and prayers are with Novaes' children, family, work family and friends during this extremely difficult and unimaginable time.
"She was always willing to lend a hand when help was needed or stand up for a cause she truly believed in. At most community events you would be hard missed not to find her in the crowd supporting the community," McLaughlin said. "Barbara was truly someone that showed what it means to give back and never ask for anything in return. She was truly about others and not her self."
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria echoed McLaughlin's sentiments, remembering Novaes as an amazing woman with whom his family had a close relationship. She worked at the Everett Co-operative Bank for many years.
"She was very loving and caring to my family, especially my daughter Caroline whom she formed a special bond with over the years," DeMarie said. "We all mourn her tragic loss at this time and pray that her family finds the strength to endure at this terrible time."
A prayer vigil for Novaes will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grace Episcopal Church in Medford, where she was an active parishioner.
The church issued a statement Thursday mourning her passing.
"Barbara Hovey Novaes was a beloved member of Grace Episcopal Church," the Rev. Carol Morehead said. "Barbara had a passion for social justice and was a regular participant in many walks for peace and hunger relief in the Boston area. She was a gifted Sunday school teacher, and she raised her children at Grace, where they developed life-long friendships. Barbara’s smile lit up the room, and her caring was extended to us all. Our hearts are broken by her untimely death. We thank the media and any interested parties for respecting our privacy as our faith community grieves with her family."