Bristol DA links 30-year-old murder of Berkley man to mafia enforcer through fingerprints

“He was a father and a very good father. No matter what, no matter what he was doing, if I needed something, if I needed him there, he was there in a minute."

RAYNHAM, Mass. (WLNE)- The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office has linked a violent criminal to a gruesome murder 30 years later.

It was August 14, 1991 when Howard Ferrini was last seen alive at the Raynham dog track. The 53-year-old professional gambler had spent the day there with friends and went back home to Berkeley for dinner, planning to go back to the dog track for more betting.

But Ferrini never made it back to the track.

“Later that night, he never returned to the dog track so friends became concerned,” said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.

A week later his body was found decomposing in the trunk of his Cadillac. A worker at Logan Airport noticed a smell and alerted police to the parked car. Ferrini was found with head injuries from a hammer with a plastic bag tied tightly around his neck.

“It was determined he was smashed in the head with blunt force trauma, had a fractured skull consistent with being hit with a hammer which was missing from his tool kit,” explained Quinn.

It’s that plastic bag that led detectives to one of the perpetrators three decades later.

The Bristol County District Attorney‘s office has been revisiting cold cases dating back to the 1970s in hopes that fresh eyes will help solve them. Ferrini’s case was re-opened last year.

“We retested the plastic bag, the evidence was sent to the FBI, they ran it through a newly updated fingerprint system and there was a match that came back to Kevin Hanrahan who is a well-known figure in the Providence area and even in Massachusetts, who was an enforcer for the Patriarca family.”

Kevin Hanrahan was killed in 1992. But detectives believe he wasn’t alone while murdering Ferrini.

“Mr. Ferrini was a big man, he was obviously put in the trunk at some point so I think it appears that more than one person was involved in this,” added Quinn.

Ferrini’s daughter, Kelly, was 18 years old and pregnant at the time of her father’s death. She learned about it from watching the news.

“The news was on and it said a member of the organized crimes unit found a body and they said a 53-year-old. When they said 53-year-old, me and my mother both happened to turn our heads and look at the TV,” Ferrini said. “It was just a very surreal moment. I just was staring, I didn’t actually even cry I just was stunned and staring at the TV.“

She said her dad had a criminal history and spent some time in jail when she was young, but she didn’t know his connection to Hanrahan until she Googled him.

“I actually Googled him and found out who he was affiliated with and after that, no I wasn’t shocked. There was stories going on about my father and people he was affiliated with actually kidnapping somebody from the Patriarca family, and this Kevin Hanrahan was affiliated with them so it kind of made sense.”

Kelly said despite her father’s history, he didn’t deserve to die the way he did and she hopes this new attention on the case will help bring everyone involved to justice.

“He was a father and a very good father. No matter what, no matter what he was doing, if I needed something, if I needed him there, he was there in a minute.”

If you have any information about this case or other cold cases, you are urged to contact the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.

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