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Alleged Killer Christopher Ferguson Blogged About Struggling With Bipolar Disorder
Ferguson pled not guilty via his attorney at his Tuesday arraignment
CW: Descriptions of violent crime, mental illness.
“They say pictures are tombstones of moments, suggesting that the latter live more richly in the imagination.” - Christopher Ferguson.
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I put off writing this all day because I don’t want to seem sympathetic to a man accused of killing a 70-something married couple and a 97-year-old woman with exceeding brutality. I can’t bring myself to feel sympathy for someone who would do such a thing, mentally ill or not.
Still, there’s no doubt that Christopher Ferguson presents a troubling puzzle. Once you delve deeper into what he’s accused of doing and who he seems to be, so many questions arise.
Ferguson, who Newton Police believe stabbed and bludgeoned Bruno and Jill D’Amore and Jill’s mom Lucia Arpino to death early on Sunday, June 25, had a somewhat active Facebook presence (the profile was confirmed by the Boston Globe; you’re welcome to click through but note that social media profiles of accused killers rarely stay public for long). It revealed a man with a knack for wordplay—see the quote above, taken from this post—who appeared thoughtful and insightful. In comments, he replied warmly to friends and family, and they returned the warmth.
Christopher Ferguson seems to fit that old cliché often trotted out about certain accused multiple killers—a nice, regular guy from whom no one expected such nightmarish violence. Various Boston media interviews with people who knew Ferguson and his family support that view. Yet they also indicated that he needed help but couldn’t—or perhaps wouldn’t—get it, and they expressed dismay and disgust with the mental health care system in general.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ferguson was arraigned via Zoom. His attorney entered a not guilty plea. NBC 10 reporter Jodi Reed tweeted a brief account of the arraignment. “HAPPENING NOW: Christopher Ferguson has pled not guilty to charges including murder. He will not appear in the courtroom today and will be kept in a room below due to his behavior. Swearing could be heard from a courtroom computer before it was muted.”
ABC News detailed the nightmare that happened to the D’Amores and Lucia Arpino:
Police have described the crime as a possible "random" act of violence.
Ryan disclosed that an autopsy performed on Jill D'Amore determined she suffered more than 30 stab and blunt force trauma injuries, primarily to the upper part of her body and head. The prosecutor also said investigators found obvious signs of an intense struggle in one of the bedrooms of the D'Amore home, including broken furniture and a crystal paperweight covered in blood.
Ryan said video surveillance footage from a home near the D'Amore residence captured Ferguson in the neighborhood at 5:20 a.m. on Sunday shirtless, barefooted and walking with a staggering gait.
The report said Ferguson lived “four-tenths of a mile” from the D’Amores. I found evidence that he once lived at an address just across the street from a building where Lucia Arpino lived with her late husband Alberto years ago, but Newton isn’t that big—it may have been a coincidence.
While writing this, I discovered via his Facebook (it was also on his LinkedIn profile) that Christopher Ferguson once had a blog at BlackandBipolar.net. (It no longer appears to be live online, hence the archived link.) The blog’s tagline read, “Using my journey to inspire, educate, and entertain.” On his “About” page, Ferguson wrote that when he was “was an aspiring academic at UC Berkeley” between 2008 and 2010, he “learned that the demands of a combined, advanced, degree program do not mesh well with the dictates of a major(ly mismanaged) mental illness.” He continued:
Being black and having bipolar disorder are hardly the extents of my identity. It contains multitudes, which include, but are not bound by this reductive alliteration. However, insofar as the suggested themes are concerned, my interests within these subdomains are black popular culture, specifically within hip hop, and the fabric of black male identity formation. As it relates to psychology, my interests are several and include a fascination with its abnormal, addictive, and motivational domains. As a self-educated, growth guru, focus freak, efficiency aficionado, and specialization stickler, thoughts of these adjoining affinities occupy much of my headspace.
In an August 2021 blog post about sobriety and mental health, Ferguson wrote about how screen icon Samuel L. Jackson had “transmuted his well-documented struggles with crack addiction into acting.” He continued on to outline what he termed his own “mental health maelstrom,” writing, “I’ll recap for the uninitiated: five manic episodes (with psychotic features to boot) occurring at disturbingly regular 18-24 month intervals from 2005-2014 (ages 23-32) resulted in 11 commissions to the psych ward.”
Later in the post, he wrote that he was managing his mental health on a low dose of the atypical antipsychotic drug Abilify and did not fear a relapse.
Earlier, in 2020, Ferguson blogged about Kanye West, AKA Ye, the hip-hop and fashion mogul who has publicly struggled with bipolar disorder for years. In the process, Ferguson described his own experience with manic and psychotic states:
Kanye speaks of the undeniable synchronicity that I recall feeling while elevated as fuck. It is this overwhelming sense of oneness with everything that is presently happening to, for, around, and strangely through you. This feels wonderful, but the full-on fissure from reality that typically follows (called psychosis) feels terrifying.
[Kanye] further articulated the paranoia that can accompany mania with psychotic features, as it’s clinically described:
“When you’re in this state, you’re hyper-paranoid about everything… Everything’s a conspiracy. You feel the government is putting chips in your head. You feel you’re being recorded. You feel all these things.”
It’s worth repeating that in detailing Ferguson’s writing, I’m not trying to establish sympathy for him. I’m pointing out the fact that he knew he was a very ill man and had taken multiple measures to fight the illness in the past—factors that could make his bipolar disorder a moot point in court. Which leads to the question: What changed? When did he stop fighting? Was it the self-consuming nature of bipolar disorder or an inability to navigate the clanking, the confusing, immensely frustrating bureaucracy of the American mental health care system—much less pay for the often extravagantly expensive medications? Maybe it was all of these things.
At this point, several families deserve answers to all these questions and many more. Friends and loved ones of Christopher Ferguson need answers, but more importantly, the D’Amores and Arpinos need them. They are enduring not just a cataclysmic loss of three beloved family members who should have been celebrating wedding vow renewals but also a very public loss, splashed across the regional and national news.
Soon I’ll write about why this particular crime has struck a chord with me. With True Crime Report, I’ve decided to approach stories in a less “newsy” manner and illustrate why they capture me personally, much as my late friend Michelle McNamara did so brilliantly in her instant true crime classic, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.
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