On the day Ben LaGuer was arrested in July 1983 word on the street was that the police had gotten the wrong guy. But that message didn’t get through to Leominster’s Finest, which quickly closed ranks around a theory that the 20-year-old kid just home from the Army and staying in the next door apartment committed a brutal assault on an elderly woman. The victim wasn’t saying much. She was traumatized, heavily medicated and had a history of severe mental illness. The building manager told police that LaGuer was the logical suspect.
If Ben didn’t commit this crime, then who did? In August 1983 a pair of private investigators discovered that the man the street would have indicted had a troubled past related to sexual misconduct. His name is Jose Orlando Gomez.
Consider that this man:
Is near in age to LaGuer (five years older).
Is of the same height (within an inch) and build as LaGuer.
Is of the same (Afro-Puerto Rican) ethnicity as LaGuer.
Had access to the building in which the crime occurred because his mother had moved out a few months earlier.
Had previously been sent to Worcester State Hospital for observation related to sexual misconduct.
Is suspected of suffering from mental illness (bipolar disorder).
Has been implicated in the crime by several hearsay witnesses, including one, a former bar tender, who claimed that he actually confessed.
Was arrested 15 years later (in 1998) and charged with a different rape with a very similar modus operendi.
Has a history of violence against women which includes a restraining order.
Has to this day not been questioned by police.
It was recently revealed that a man closely fitting his description:
Had previously known and befriended the victim and would fetch cigarettes for her while they sat on a park bench.
Had been invited to stay over night in the victim’s apartment on occasions when his mother wouldn’t let him in because he was drunk.
And finally consider that Ben had never been in trouble with the law other than a minor drug infraction while stationed overseas in the Army. He comes from a solid, upwardly mobile family. Several psychiatrists have evaluated him and all say he does not even remotely fit the profile of a dangerous person. He refused a plea bargain under which he would have been released in 1985.