Court documents sought in slasher killing


GREENFIELD, Mass. -- Lawyers for two newspapers argued Thursday for the release of court documents on a mentally ill man who murdered a college student who did a psychological profile on him by acting out the 'Final Chapter' scene from a horror movie.

A lawyer for the killer's family, however, said the documents should not be brought to 'the public eye by the media.'


Greenfield District Court Judge Benjamin Atkin took under advisement the motions by The Recorder of Greenfield and The Union-News of Springfield to release impounded affidavits submitted for a murder warrant for Mark Branch.

Branch, 19, of Greenfield, was the lone suspect in the slasher-murder of Greenfield Community College student Sharon Gregory, 18, whose mutilated body was found Oct. 24 by her twin sister in a bathroom of their home.

Branch's partially decomposed body was found by a deer hunter Tuesday, hanging by bootlaces and a belt from a tree in a wooded area off Route 112 in nearby Buckland.


Greenfield Police Chief David McCarthy said Wednesday that Branch was a mentally ill young man acting out the 'Final Chapter' of his favorite 'Friday the 13th' horror movie when he murdered Gregory because she had compiled a psychological profile of him.

Lawyers for the two newspapers argued before Atkin Thursday the affidavits, which reportedly contain information on a motive and evidence seized from Branch's home, should be released.

The lawyers called the documents 'public information' and said the newspapers needed the affidavits to fill in gaps in reporting the case.

But the lawyer for Branch's family, Robert Carlson, argued the documents were not public information.

'They ought not to be brought into the public eye by the media,' Carlson told the court.

Hampshire and Franklin County District Attorney Judd Carhart did not oppose the newspaper motions, although he did initially argue successfully to have the documents impounded.

McCarthy said Wednesday he wanted 'to close the case' by revealing that Branch's motive for the killing was to get the psychological profile Gregory had on him.

'As far as I'm concerned, the bottom line motive was that Sharon Gregory had in her possession a psychological profile of Mark Branch and that profile was wanted badly by Mark Branch. He didn't like her having it and he wanted it,' McCarthy said. 'She did a profile on him and she made it known to him what the profile was.'


Gregory was a freshman psychology major at Greenfield Community College, but McCarthy was not sure whether she compiled the profile for course work. He said the paper had not been found.

McCarthy said Branch's particular interest in Jason, the maniacal murderer featured in the 'Friday the 13th' horror films, was also part of the motive for the Oct. 24 stabbing.

'He was so entrenched with Jason that he had to have the final chapter in his own feelings. He wanted to know what it felt like to live out the part of Jason,' McCarthy said.

Branch's death was 'tentatively ruled a suicide by self-inflicted hanging,' Carhart said.

Reports of his fetish for slasher films and the failure of intensive manhunts to locate the suspect had terrorized Greenfield, a town of 19,000 people near the Vermont border.

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