The mother of "Baby Doe," the little girl whose body was found on Deer Island in Massachusetts earlier this year, will be charged as an accessory in the young girl's death, and her boyfriend will be charged with the child's murder.
The victim was identified Friday as Bella Bond. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said that 35-year-old Michael Patrick McCarthy, the boyfriend of the girl's mother, murdered her.
Bella's mother, 40-year-old Rachelle Bond of Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, has been arrested and charged as an accessory after the fact. McCarthy is hospitalized for an unrelated medical condition, but Conley said his arrest had been authorized.
"This child, whose very name means 'beauty,' was murdered," Conley said. "We allege that McCarthy caused Bella's death, that he did so intentionally, and that he and Bond took specific steps to keep Bella's death a secret and to avoid prosecution."
Conley went on to say that the cause of Bella's death has "puzzled" investigators since her body was found, but that they have "a very good idea" of what happened to her based on the evidence."
The district attorney would not elaborate on that, saying that more details would be available Monday.
Officials say the death was violent and it happened at the family's apartment on Maxwell Street in Dorchester.
Neighbors said they had noticed Bella wasn't around for the past few months, but say they assumed, like Rachelle Bond's two other children, she had been taken away by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
DCF issued a statement Friday, confirming that the agency hasn't had an open case with the family for over two years.
"Since June, the Department has been working closely with law enforcement on exploring dozens of leads in hopes to identify the little girl found on Deer Island. Now that we know her name, the story is no less tragic. DCF has not had an open case with this family for over two years, but did have brief involvement with Baby Bella as an infant. Our thoughts are with Bella's extended family as the investigation into her death continues."
DCF had contact with Bella Bond in 2012 and 2013 for neglect. In both instances, it provided services and the case was closed.
Between 2001 and 2006, DCF terminated parental rights regarding two of Rachelle Bond's other children. One remains with the maternal grandmother, and the other was adopted by a non-related family.
Court documents show Bond was arrested by an undercover Boston police officer on a prostitution charge in 2010. She pleaded guilty and was placed on probation for one year.
A woman walking her dog along Deer Island found the girl's body on June 25. The child was found wearing a distinctive pair of white leggings with black polka dots and was with a zebra-print fleece blanket.
Friday, many people who felt connected to the case headed to Deer Island for closure, paying their respects to a girl who, for so long, had no name.
"We know her now," said Patricia Bonita. "We know it's baby Bella."
Bonita, who has been coming to the spot where Bella was discarded since the first vigil, says she's happy she can finally call her by her true name. Each time she goes to the makeshift memorial, she arranges rocks. Friday, she was able to write "God bless Bella."
Bella was identified thanks to a tip to the Boston Police Department's Homicide Unit. Throughout the investigation, state police have lauded the persistence of social media users who shared a computer-generated composite image of the girl - one that strongly resembled photos of Bella posted on Rachelle Bond's Facebook page.
Conley echoed those sentiments Friday, thanking everyone who helped keep Bella's face in public view.
"It was a very valuable tip," Conley said. "It's just a very good example of someone who acquired some information and called the Boston Police."
Tips from the public generated more than 100 leads, according to police.
Testing conducted on pollen samples recovered from the trash bag the girl's remains were found in suggested she spent time in the Greater Boston area. The girl's body did not show signs of advanced decomposition, suggesting that she died in the area rather than at a distant location.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the family has no current involvement with the state Department of Children and Families, but was briefly involved with DCF in 2013 regarding Bella.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that McCarthy and Rachelle Bond are blaming each other.