Sandra Birchmore, 23, was found dead in her Canton, Massachusetts apartment on Feb. 4, 2021. A medical examiner ruled her death a suicide. Sandra was a naive young woman who immersed herself in the law enforcement field through a local police department’s youth program as a teenager. Through this program, she became passionate about becoming a police officer. However, those she trusted the most would take advantage of her in the worst possible way.
Sandra grew up in Stoughton, where her mother, grandmother, and aunt raised her. Her father was never in the picture.
Sandra joined Stoughton Police Department’s Youth Explorers program at 13. She became infatuated with law enforcement and often wore a police uniform. Sandra shared Facebook photos of herself alongside SPD members, raved about the program, and dreamed of becoming a cop.
Sadly, Sandra’s mother and grandmother died about a month apart in 2016, and her aunt followed in 2019. That year, Sandra took the Massachusetts civil service exam and was placed on the eligibility list for the Stoughton police force, per The Boston Globe. Meanwhile, she held a job with Sharon Public Schools.
Sandra had met police officer Matthew Farwell, 12 years her senior, through the Explorers program in the spring of 2013. He had been an assistant instructor in the program for several years.
Farwell, a U.S. Army veteran, had worked for Wellesley Police Department before joining Stoughton Police Department in 2012.
Three friends of Sandra’s told The Globe, which extensively covered Sandra’s death and is the primary source for TCD’s article, that Sandra and Farwell began having a sexual relationship when she was only 15 and Farwell was 27. Massachusett’s age of consent is 16. The affair lasted for years and through Farwell’s marriage to another woman.
But the relationship significantly changed when Sandra became pregnant. Excited about the pregnancy, she had always wanted to be a mother, and her apartment was filled with baby gear. She told several people that Farwell was the father.
Farwell was unhappy about the pregnancy, and he and Sandra had tension. A few weeks before her death, she and a friend went shopping, and the friend bought her a $200 stroller. Sandra told her friend Farwell had pushed her during an argument, making his stance on the baby clear. Farwell’s wife was also pregnant and set to give birth at any moment.
On Feb. 1, 2021, CCTV footage captured Farwell entering Sandra’s apartment building at 3307 Windsor Woods Way. According to the police report, Farwell stayed 28 minutes and exited the building at 9:43 p.m.
We have obtained surveillance footage of Sandra Birchmore's apartment complex, showing the last time she was seen alive and the last person to see her alive, Matthew Farwell, entering and leaving the building on February 1st, 2021.— The Case (@thecasepodcast) December 15, 2022
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Sandra and a friend had been texting that night, but her texts abruptly stopped. The friend messaged her at 11:59 p.m. but never received a response.
Farwell’s wife gave birth to a boy in Newton the following day.
On Feb. 4, 2021, at 11 a.m., Canton police officers responded to a welfare check on Sandra after she failed to show up for work or call in sick for several days. When officers entered the premises, they observed two cats inside. The apartment was “cluttered and unkept,” and the bedroom door was closed, the police report stated.
When officers opened the door, they found Sandra seated on the floor, with a scarf around her neck tightly affixed to the closet door handle. Firefighter and paramedic Daniel Whitely arrived and pronounced Birchmore dead at 11:46 a.m.
Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey led the initial investigation into Sandra’s death. He and a medical examiner concluded she had died by suicide.
Farwell immediately lawyered up after an internal police investigation began.
During questioning, Farwell admitted to being the man on the CCTV footage entering Sandra’s apartment building. He claimed he visited her to end things, they argued, and he left. When interviewed by his colleagues, Farwell denied being the father of Sandra’s baby, claiming he engaged in a sexual relationship with her between early 2020 and October 2020. He claimed that her baby was due in September 2021, so the timeline does not fit that he was the father.
It’s worth noting that Sandra became pregnant in late 2020, according to sources.
Farwell’s story slightly changed. He initially said he went to her apartment to end things with her. Still, he later said he had already finished the relationship with her. Farwell also claimed he blocked Sandra on all communication platforms and deleted all their text messages and emails days before she was found dead. But he has nothing to hide.
According to the Globe, “A State Police examination of Birchmore’s laptop uncovered about 12 months of iMessages and social media content, including her communications with Farwell and others.”
Farwell has never admitted to being the father and denied any wrongdoing in her death. Unsurprisingly, he refused a DNA test to see if he was the father and a polygraph test to determine if he was lying.
Investigators interviewed Sandra’s coworkers, who said she told them her boyfriend was a police officer.
The SPD scandal widened after the internal investigation revealed two other officers also had inappropriate relations with Sandra – William Farwell, twin brother of Farwell, and Robert Devine, in his 50s and the Farwells’ former supervisor in the Explorers program. Both men worked for SPD.
On Feb. 11, 2021, Massachusetts State Police investigators interviewed William Farwell. He initially denied having a sexual relationship with Sandra until the detectives revealed they had found messages between him and Sandra on Facebook Messenger. They also pointed out that he violated police department rules when he visited a restaurant on duty in December 2020 to meet Sandra.
Defeated, William Farwell admitted to having a sexual relationship with Sandra as recently as 2020 and contradicted his brother’s statement that Farwell was not the baby’s father. William Farwell said Sandra told him she was pregnant and that his brother was the father.
Laura Crimaldi and Dugan Arnett of The Globe write, “The internal investigation into Birchmore’s death also concluded that William Farwell improperly ran his and Birchmore’s names through law enforcement databases and violated another policy by coercing Birchmore via text message. However, the specifics of the offense were redacted in the report.”
Furthermore, the investigation revealed that William Farwell had introduced two other men – an Abingdon police officer and a military recruiter – to Sandra. The cop had “inappropriate relations” with Birchmore, and the recruiter had “inappropriate communications” with her.
Meanwhile, Devine denied all allegations against him in an email to The Globe:
“I will challenge these findings in every forum available to me and anticipate legal action for multiple infractions. At least in my case, this was a politically motivated sham against an employee who has consistently spoken out against leadership. It speaks volumes that they released any findings to the media before ever notifying me.”
Devine was a deputy chief demoted to the rank of officer in 2016 after a months-long affair with an Easton woman. According to The Enterprise, he was put on paid administrative leave on July 10, 2016, by then-Police Chief Paul Shastany after town officials received a report about an internal affairs investigation. He earned approximately $80,000 during his leave.
Devine joined SPD in 1999 and resigned on Aug. 16, 2022. He is also a lawyer and wrote a letter to the new police chief, Donna McNamara, criticizing the internal investigation that started after Sandra’s death.
The Globe revealed that Devine had previous inappropriate contact with a female high school student he supervised at an after-school program in the early 2000s. Investigators interviewed her in the internal investigation. Now an adult, she told them that on that day, Devine took her to an office and closed the door. He lifted her onto a desk, told her she was a ‘knockout,’ and planned to take her on a date when she turned 18. However, the woman stressed there was never any sexual contact between the two, but she believed Devine was grooming her.
Last year, Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara held a press conference and said she planned to ask the state’s new Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission to decertify the Farwell brothers and Devine as police officers. Decertification would ensure they never work as law enforcement officers ever again.
McNamara apologized and said Sandra “was failed so consistently throughout her life by three members of Stoughton Police Department.”
William Farwell resigned from his position with SPD on April 1, 2022. That same day, he started a new career as an explosives specialist with the Transportation Security Administration at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. Devine and Farwell have also resigned.
It may not come as a surprise that SPD is no stranger to scandal.
In one instance, a police chief was accused of trying to run down a lieutenant in the Town Hall parking lot. Another involved an officer and illicit photos he took of him and his mistress that he showed fellow officers and their wives.
Numerous civil lawsuits have been filed against the department, and in December 2022, Sandra’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Devine and the Farwell brothers. After her death, another aunt, Darlene Smith, was appointed to represent her estate.
The 14-page complaint filed in Norfolk Superior Court alleges that all three men sexually assaulted Sandra after she enrolled in the Explorers program at 13. The suit also accuses SPD of negligence in hiring and supervising Devine and the Farwell brothers.
The complaint further states the department hired the Farwell brothers despite police force members knowing that, as teenagers, the twins had impersonated officers and pulled over vehicles.
There were red flags with these three long before Birchmore came along. SPD is a disgrace.
You can dive deeply into this case by watching videos on TikTok and YouTube. You can also join the FB group Justice for Sandra Birchmore.
TRUE CRIME DIVA’S THOUGHTS
These three VILE men took advantage of a young woman because of their disgusting desires. They should be castrated. That would give a little bit of justice.
I don’t believe for a second that Sandra killed herself. She was found in a seated position. If she had tried to kill herself using this method, she would have gone into fight or flight mode, and it would have been tough to resist getting up and untying the scarf. This was how Robin Williams allegedly killed himself, and I’ve never bought that, either. If you’re going to hang yourself, why would you do so from such a low position?
I think Farwell killed her and made it look like a suicide because he did not want the baby. He went to her apartment that night to talk her into an abortion, I think. She refused, and he killed her. It’s a no-brainer.
I noticed the police report said Farwell left Sandra’s apartment at 9:43 p.m. However, the CCTV shows closer to 10 p.m. If you watch the video, you will see that a man attempted to walk into the building behind Birchmore earlier in the day but did not follow her inside. I am sure that was Farwell.
There’s no way she would have taken her own life when she was excited about the baby’s arrival and after purchasing items for the baby. Often, people who are about to die by suicide sell their possessions.
In my opinion, the internal investigation was a joke. Farwell is seen on CCTV going into her apartment building and onto the elevator. He is the LAST known person to have seen her alive. When he entered the building, he wore a hat, hoodie, and face mask to hide his identity. I’m surprised he was not wearing gloves. Regardless, he went there to kill her if she did not do what he said. Additionally, her text messages to her friend completely stopped after his arrival.
He also deleted all communications between him and Birchmore and REFUSED to take a DNA test and polygraph test. If you were not the father, buddy, then why did you refuse the DNA test? We know why.