The Death of James Kater (VIDEO)
James Kater, the convicted murderer of Mary Lou Arruda, recently died in prison. His death brought some closure to the family of Arruda, the 15-year-old girl whose decapitated corpse was found tied to a tree in the Freetown State Forest in November of 1978.
The case made national headlines, and is just one of the many tales of true crime and heinous acts associated with the Freetown State Forest. Kater was tried four times for the murder before the verdict actually stuck; it was twice overturned by the Supreme Court.
A week after his death, I welcomed a panel of three guests onto Saturday Morning with Tim Weisberg to discuss Kater’s death. Author Christopher Balzano (Dark Woods: Cults, Crime and the Paranormal in the Freetown State Forest), filmmaker Aaron Cadieux (The Bridgewater Triangle Documentary) and retired Freetown police detective Alan Alves joined me to offer their own perspectives. Alves was especially insightful, as he was first on the scene and this was his first homicide case as a detective.
We also discussed how the original trial was declared a mistrial because the prosecution attempted to use testimony acquired through regression hypnosis as part of their case. Alves, who now operates the SouthCoast Hypnosis Center in Fall River, said he was initially skeptical about hypnotic regression testimony. He also debunked the urban legend that has developed in the decades since Arruda’s death that her murder, or even Kater’s involvement, was somehow tied into the satanic cult known to be operating in the Freetown State Forest at that time.