Suspect charged in Monument Sq. clerk shooting

January 22, 2010
By

David Taber


Photo Courtesy District Attorney’s Office
Suspect Edward Corliss in his drivers licesnse photo from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Alleged killer may have lived in JP before

A man convicted of shooting a store clerk in 1972 was charged last week with the Dec. 26 murder of store clerk Surendra Dangol during a robbery of the Tedeschi Food Store at 783 Centre St.

The suspect, 63-year-old Roslindale resident Edward Corliss, had been on parole since 2006. At the time of his arrest, he was living in Roslindale, but some Jamaica Plain residents say he lived in JP since being released from prison.

Corliss was charged with murdering Dangol, a 39-year-old Nepali immigrant, on Jan. 13. His parole had been revoked and he had been taken into custody about a week before that. He was arraigned Jan. 19 and ordered held without bail.

A “not guilty” plea was entered on Corliss’s behalf, according to the DA’s Office.

Corliss’s attorney, public defender John Hayes, told the Gazette on Wednesday afternoon that most of his thoughts at this time are based on public information. Hayes said police originally said video of the crime showed the perpetrator to be about 6 feet tall, and he pointed out that Corliss is 5’6”. He added that there was no physical evidence presented at the arraignment linking his client to the crime.

The driver of a car that the suspect left the scene in has been identified but not charged with any crime.

Dangol, who was saving money to bring his wife and daughter to the United States, was living in Somerville, but his shocking death provoked a strong reaction in Jamaica Plain.

A Jan. 11 fund-raiser was organized by Brent Refsland of the Hallway Gallery on South Street, and held at three local businesses on the same block as Tedeschi—Station 8 Salon, Vee Vee restaurant and Salmagundi. It reportedly drew overflow crowds and raised over $3,000.

“I thought the community support and outpouring was just amazing,” said local City Councilor John Tobin, who attended the fund-raiser. “It was exactly the way you would expect JP to react…It makes me even more proud to represent a community that turns out in such numbers.”

“Here is a guy, like all of us, who was chasing the American dream,” Tobin said of Dangol. “He leaves his wife and daughter and travels from Nepal—thousands of miles—and this is what he gets.”

While Dangol’s daylight murder has inspired reflection in the community, some say that his alleged murderer may have lived here. “As far as I know, he lived down the street,” said Bradley Brown, the proprietor of Blue Frog Bakery on Green Street.

He said he found out Corliss had been arrested when a regular customer came in and said, “Can you believe they arrested Eddie?”

Recalling Corliss, Brown said he “would walk by every day. He always said hello. He had a happy temperament—always had a smile on his face.”

Brown said he only had a “passing relationship” with Corliss.

DA’s Office spokesperson Jake Wark said Corliss was living with a woman at a Roslindale address at the time of his arrest, but the address listed on his driver’s license is in Roxbury.

Prosecutors alleged at the arraignment that Corliss stole $746 from the convenience store, and took steps to cover up the crime, according to a press release from the DA’s Office.

He threw a wig, hat, gloves and coat he had used to disguise himself in a Dumpster, and “disposed of the murder weapon in a location known to the Commonwealth,” according to the DA’s Office. He also attempted to disguise the car he left in from the scene by affixing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology bumper sticker to the driver’s side door of the car, the DA’s Office said.

Portions of surveillance footage from the day of the crime were released to the public by the Boston Police Department shortly after the shooting. That footage indicates that the shooter left in a car. Wark confirmed that someone else drove the car.

Wark said this week that the driver has been identified, but has not been charged. He declined to comment further “for strategic reasons,” he said.

Citing anonymous law enforcement sources, The Boston Globe this week reported that the driver was Corliss’s wife, Jacqueline Silvia.

The arrest came after what Conley characterized in the Jan. 13 press statement as “two significant breaks” in the case. “First, homicide detectives learned that Corliss had access to such a car through a family member and began investigating him. And second, an alert parole officer contacted police to say that he had a parolee who not only had access to such a car but also facial features similar to those in the Tedeschi surveillance footage,” the press statement said.

According to court documents, Corliss was indicted for first-degree murder, but convicted of second-degree murder, for the 1972 slaying. The sentence for first-degree murder is life without parole. “[A] first-degree convict will never get out of prison and a second-degree convict will serve no less than 15 years (and usually much more),” Wark said in an e-mail.

JP resident Sam Sherwood contacted the Gazette to express his outrage that Corliss was released from prison following his original conviction. “We have a prison system that has more inmates per capita than any industrialized nation” and most inmates are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, he said. “Why is a violent offender back on the streets?…A man lost his life because the system failed. I believe the system failed grievously,” he said.

Tobin took another, less direct lesson from the incident. Noting that local US Rep. Mike Capuano’s intervention had helped secure a visa for Dangol’s daughter to visit the United States for her father’s funeral, he said, “Not to bring politics into this, but that is one of the reasons I was proud to stand with Mike Capuano for Senate.”

Capuano saw a problem “and sprung into action,” Tobin said.

Capuano lost the US Senate primary to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.