John McCabe was a 15-year-old boy when he was bound, gagged, and strangled to death after a Knights of Columbus dance in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1969. Police had no witnesses, no physical evidence. The murder case was cold for 42 years until one of the three teens, Edward Brown (then 57), broke the teen killer pact and confessed to the murder. Brown made a deal with prosecutors that if he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and testified against the other two — Walter Shelley and Michael Ferreira — he would get five years probation.
The same evidence was presented by the same prosecutor in the trials of both Shelley and Ferreira. Ferreira was acquitted of all charges and Shelley was sentenced to life in jail with the possibility of parole. According to The Boston Globe, during Ferreira’s trial, “jurors were left with too many questions about the case, and he [Ferreira’s lawyer, Eric Wilson] had argued that there were too many other possibilities that were not investigated.” 48 Hours will air its investigative report on the McCabe murder trials on October 31 at 9pm on CBS.