MANCHESTER, NH – The man accused of killing a Manchester man in March of 2020 and then burying him in Lawrence, Mass., will be held without bail pending trial even though the case against him is largely circumstantial, a judge has ruled.
Judge N. William Delker, presiding in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District, issued the order in the case of Anderson Pereira, 42, formerly of 142 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen, Mass., who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Zakhia Chabaty, 52, of 245 Pasture Drive.
Pereira is also charged with two counts of falsifying physical evidence for moving Chabaty’s body and cellphone to prevent their discovery by the police.
Delker issued the nine-page order on Feb. 11, 2022, after a hearing concerning bail that spanned five days and involved testimony from Chabaty’s widow, Flavia Deoliveira, and the lead investigator, Manchester Police Detective Brian O’Leary.
Delker said there is no dispute in the case that Chabaty’s widow, Flavia Deoliveira, lied to the police and the grand jury at various points in the investigation.
However, he said much of her testimony was corroborated by contemporaneous text messages and other information.
“To the extent any of her testimony is credible it tends to bolster the already strong case against the defendant,” the judge said.
The defense argued that Deoliveira lied to cover up her own culpability in the murder and to protect her son, Gabriel, who, the defense contended, had the motive and the opportunity to murder Chabaty.
“Even if that is true, what is lacking is any independent evidence that actually ties Gabriel to the murder or the evidence deposited in Methuen and Lawrence,” Delker wrote. “The defendant too had the motive and opportunity to murder Chabaty. The difference is that the theory that Gabriel is the murderer stands in stark contrast to the specific evidence that connects the defendant to important events in connection with the disappearance and murder of Chabaty and disposal of evidence connected with the crime.”
He said both parties in the case acknowledge that the case against Pereira is entirely circumstantial. There are no eyewitnesses, and the defendant did not admit to the crime.
“Nevertheless, the State laid out an overwhelming case of the defendant’s guilt,” Delker said.
Deoliveira, who is Pereira’s ex-girlfriend and Chabaty’s widow, dated and lived with Pereira for a number of years before she met the victim. She moved out of Pereira’s apartment suddenly in the fall of 2019 and moved in with Chabaty. They married in January 2020.
Deoliveira continued to maintain a relationship with Pereira, including sexual encounters, after she moved in with Chabaty.
Following the wedding, Deoliveira’s son, Gabriel, was on an extended visit from Brazil and was staying with his mother and her new husband.
They lived in a home at 245 Pasture Drive in Manchester. On March 7, 2020, Chabaty and Gabriel got into a heated argument. Chabaty kicked Gabriel out of his home and Deoliveira left with him, moving back to Pereira’s apartment in Methuen, Mass.
Over the next several days, Chabaty and Deoliveira made amends and Chabaty asked her and Gabriel to return to the Pasture Drive residence.
Chabaty, however, went missing on the evening of March 12, 2020. His last known contact was a text message he sent to Deoliveira at 9:29 p.m. that night wishing her a good night. When she arrived at the residence the next morning, Chabaty was not home and his work truck was gone. She thought he was working.
When he did not return home later that day, she called police. Chabaty’s truck was found in Lawrence, Mass. on March 14, 2020. His body was found on July 12, 2020, buried at a construction site in Massachusetts.
Surveillance video from homes in Chabaty’s neighborhood depict a box truck—one consistent with the victim’s — leaving the area from the direction of the victim’s home about 1:15 a.m. on March 13, 2020.
A few minutes later a similar truck appears on surveillance video at Market Basket in Bedford. One person gets out of the truck, approaches the store, which is closed, and gets back into the truck. Cell tower records for the defendant’s and Chabaty’s cellphones indicate that both devices were in the area of that Market Basket at the time the truck is seen in the video.
A few minutes later, the truck left the store and headed towards I-293 and I-93. Cell tower data for both phones are consistent with the truck traveling south on I-93. The last transmission from the victim’s phone is captured at 1:49 a.m. on March 13, 2020, in the vicinity of the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border near Methuen.
Surveillance video from businesses near the Texas Roadhouse in Methuen, where Pereira worked, show a box truck consistent with Chabaty’s at 2:14 a.m. A person exits the truck and deposits several filled bags into separate dumpsters.
This person then damages some object and throws it over the fence. Police later recover Chabaty’s cellphone, which was sending signals until 1:49 a.m., from that area. His iWatch, which also sends and receives signals from cell towers, was connected with towers in the vicinity of the Texas Roadhouse at the time the box truck was seen on the video.
Chabaty’s nephew last saw the iWatch in the truck on March 12, 2020.
The truck left the restaurant and, a few minutes late, a similar box truck appears on video at Home Depot in Methuen, a short drive from the Texas Roadhouse and a 15-minute walk from Pereira’s apartment complex. A person got out of the truck and walked away. Chabaty’s iWatch again connected to cell towers in the area of the Home Depot at that time.
About 13 hours after the person walked away from the box truck, the Home Depot video shows another vehicle consistent with Deoliveira’s SUV enter the parking lot at 3:24 p.m. on March 13, 2020. A person gets out of it and gets into the box truck, and moves the truck to another parking spot in the Home Depot lot near the SUV. The same person then got out of the truck and went into the store.
Surveillance video from the store records Pereira entering the business at 3:29 p.m. Detective O’Leary testified he watch the video and identified Pereira as the person buying a spade shovel and leaving the store. A person is then recorded leaving the store, getting into the SUV and driving away.
Surveillance video from 96A Milk St. in Methuen captures an SUV consistent with Deoliveira’s entering the parking lot shortly after 8 p.m. on March 13, 2020. Pereira, O’Leary testified, is the person who gets out of the driver’s side, removes an item that appears to be a shovel and a bag, and walks away off camera. Pereira returns a few minutes later without the bag and shovel and drives off.
Video from 96 Milk St. on March 14, 2020, at 12:15 a.m. records a person walking from the direction of Pereira’s apartment complex—an 8-minute walk away—toward 96A Milk St. where police saw Pereira leave a shovel and bag. Chabaty was buried at 145 Milk St., a short walk from 96 and 96a Milk St. When police recovered his body, they also found a spade shovel that was consistent with the one the defendant was seen buying at Home Depot.
Chabaty’s box truck was recorded leaving the Home Depot lot at 1:06 a.m. on March 14, 2020. A few minutes later, the truck appeared on the video at 145 Milk St. and drove in the direction of where Chabaty’s body was ultimately recovered. A few minutes later, the truck reemerged and headed in the direction of Lawrence, Mass.
Cell tower data showed the victim’s iWatch using cell towers in a manner consistent with the box truck moving from Home Depot in Methuen to 29 S. Canal St. in Lawrence where Chabaty’s truck was eventually found by police.
The iWatch did not move from March 14, 2020, at 1:50 a.m. until police recovered it in a dumpster at 29 S. Canal St. later in the day. The box truck appeared on video at that location the same day at 1:33 a.m. A person got out of the truck, made several trips toward the dumpster and also wiped down the rear cargo area of the truck. The person made several more trips to the dumpster and appeared to drop items in there. Police recovered paper towels with the victim’s blood on them and his iWatch in that dumpster.
At 1:51 a.m., the person entered the box truck and drove off. Less than 30 minutes later, the truck returned and parked out of view of the video. The person police observed earlier was seen walking from the direction of the truck carrying what appeared to be a license plate. Later in the day on March 14, 2020, police tracked Chabaty’s iWatch to 29 S. Canal St. where they find the box truck without plates.
Police found the victim’s blood in the back of the truck.
The person who left the truck is later recorded walking from 29 S. Canal St. to the intersection of South Union and Merrimack streets in Lawrence and then picked up by a minivan. Uber records show Pereira requested a ride from this intersection at that time. He was dropped off a short distance from his home in Methuen.
Pereira, when interviewed by police, denied any involvement in the murder, said he never been to Manchester before and was not in Lawrence on March 13 or 14. He admitted he frequently used Uber and Lyft.
Hours after that interview, Deoliveira brought Pereira to the train station near Boston. She asked him what happened to her husband during the car ride and Pereira responded that “Chabaty was very jealous and that it was better if she did not know anything,” the judge wrote.
Delker, in ordering Pereira held in preventive detention pending trial, said in the investigation police obtained surveillance video, phone records, cell tower information, text messages, records from Uber ridesharing service and other information that provided “compelling proof that the defendant was responsible for the murder.”
The judge said that evidence includes the defendant’s cellphone data and video surveillance; the fact police saw the defendant purchasing a shovel on March 13, 2020; a similar shovel was found with the victim’s body; the Uber records and the Uber driver who picked the defendant up a short distance from where the victim’s truck was found; his lies and inconsistent statements to the police; his sudden departure from his job and home; the fact he severed all ties with anyone he knew in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, and that he was arrested living under an assumed name in Florida.
“All of this evidence—albeit circumstantial—provides clear and convincing proof of the defendant’s guilt,” Delker wrote.