More than a year has passed since 66-year-old Bennett Halprin of Lynn was murdered.
On Christmas Eve, 2009, Halprin was shot several times after coming to the front door of his Atlantic Street home, either to check his mail, or answer the doorbell. Described by those who knew him as a gentle soul, Halprin had no enemies. The murder remains unsolved.
Meanwhile, Halprin’s 29-year-old son, Abraham, was arrested the following month after allegedly selling heroin to an undercover state trooper. The Essex District Attorney’s office confirmed what many suspected, that Abraham was believed to have been the intended target of the Christmas Eve shooting.
Although the story initially sent shockwaves throughout the local Jewish community, the Halprins eventually disappeared from the headlines.
Left behind, though, is Ora Halprin, Abraham’s mother and Bennett’s widow.
“Everything is upside down,” Ora said recently, referring to the condition of her home, although she could also be describing her life. “It’s still a mess from the police fingerprinting.”
Ora is a friendly sort, quick to say "God bless," and known for striking up conversations with customers at the Stop & Shop where she works. Now, understandably, her voice cracks with rage. Much of her ire is directed at Saugus attorney Eric Jarosz, the man hired to defend Abraham.
“He robbed me, took my money, and gave up on my son,” Ora said. “I would ask him what was going to happen, and he would say, ‘I don’t have a crystal ball.’ What kind of person says that?”
The Lynn police do not escape Ora's wrath, either. She claims they know more about the case than they will admit, and that Bennett Halprin’s killer may already be behind bars for another crime.
“They know who got my husband,” said Ora. “But they do nothing. Nothing!”
Jarosz didn't respond to the Jewish Journal's queries. Lynn Police Lieutenant Wayne Sharp wouldn’t discuss the case, but assured The Jewish Journal that it was still active.
“We’re working on it,” Sharp said.
Reminded of the axiom that the longer it takes to solve a crime, the less likely it is to be solved, Lt. Sharp waxed positive.
“We're hoping someone takes advantage of our anonymous tip line,” said Sharp, who has seen other cases stagnate for months, only to suddenly turn on the strength of a single tip.
But waiting for anonymous tips is not encouraging for Ora, who now lives alone in the apartment she once shared with her son and husband, the apartment where Bennett bragged about Ora’s cooking, and entertained neighbors with jokes and stories.
“We’re all concerned about her,” said a member of Congregation Ahabat Sholom, where Ora and Bennett were longtime members. “But the truth is we don’t know her well.”
It's not easy to know Ora these days. She's weary, and angry. After 14 months, the only new development in the case is that Abraham was assigned a new attorney in February.
Abraham is currently held at Middlesex jail, awaiting trial. He is facing up to 30 years in prison on various charges, although he claims he was wrongly arrested.
“The police don't like him, but my son is not a criminal,” Ora said.
As the muddy gears of justice turn even slower than usual, Ora Halprin clings to that thought.
To send tips to the Lynn police, consult their website at www.lynnpolice.org
Anonymous tips can also be sent via the phone by dialing 781.477.4444.