A Boston gang expert will be called to testify in the trial of Mathew Borges, a teen who is accused of beheading his high school classmate, Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino.
On November 18, 2016, sixteen-year-old Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino went missing. His family reported him missing the following day. His body wasn’t found until December 1, 2016, when a woman who was walking her dog spotted it near the Merrimack River. Viloria-Paulino’s body was found decapitated, with his head discovered a short distance away.
Police arrested Viloria-Paulino’s classmate, Matthew Borges, for the murder. When Viloria-Paulino’s body was found, the police questioned Borges. Borges,15, told police that he had walked to the river with Viloria-Paulino to smoke marijuana on the last night the he was seen. A witness also told investigators that Borges had confided in him, “Mathew told him he did something bad. . . . Mathew then told him that he stabbed a kid and cut off his head killing him. When Mathew said this he was motioning with his hands as if he was stabbing someone and cutting someone’s head off.”
Police also seized Borges’ cell phone and phone records. The phone contains a deleted message from October 2016 where Borges allegedly wrote, “You and I need to discuss demons we will face when the task is done.” Borges’ defense attorney, Edward Hayden, filed a motion to suppress the evidence that was retrieved from the cell phone. Judge James Lang denied the motion.
Borges is facing a first-degree murder charge and will be tried as an adult. Borges pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Borges’ defense attorney hired Emmett Folgert, a gang expert and executive director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, to testify at trial. Folgert is a program developer, gang peace negotiator, and public policy advocate whose experience includes creating workforce training programs for youth with criminal records as well as direct service to street gangs, runaway homeless youth and substance abusers. Folgert was one of the architects of the Boston Miracle, a highly effective community and police partnership that reduced violence in Boston.
Folgert said that he does not have specific knowledge about this case and that he does not plan to interview Borges. He stated, “I have been called by the defense to talk about the organization of gangs in general and the Latin Kings.” Folgert explained gang leaders will order minors to “do murders to cover for older gang members.” These minors are known as “crash dummies” or “crashes” and are used to give the gang leaders deniability.
Lawrence police Chief Roy Vasque said that that the city used to have a serious problem with the Latin Kings gang, but that it had been “pretty much dismantled.” Vasque noted that the city is currently combating the Trinitarios gang, which has ties to New York and New Jersey. Vasque said that he can not comment specifically on the Borges case because of a gag order by the Essex District Attorney’s Office.