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Massachusetts man sentenced to prison after woman found dead, bound, and on fire



PLYMOUTH – A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murder of a woman found dead and burned in Bridgewater, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz has announced.

A jury found 51-year-old Fernando Owens of Dorchester guilty of one count each of First-Degree Murder and Aggravated Kidnapping.

Family members of victim Ashley Bortner shared impact statements with the court, Plymouth Superior Court Judge Elaine Buckley sentenced Owens to serve life in prison.

“I am proud of the work that this jury did to come to a just verdict in this case,” DA Cruz said. “They heard the evidence of what transpired during a 24-hour period that day in November of 2015. Fernando Owens lured 29-year-old Ashley Bortner of New Jersey in, kept her against her will, and then, he killed her. I hope that with today’s outcome and some passage of time, Ms. Bortner’s family will find some sense of peace.”

On November 3, 2015, Bridgewater Police received a 911 call just before midnight for a report of a fire burning alongside MBTA train tracks. Police determined it to be a human body on fire and it was later identified as Bortner. Bortner’s body had been burned over 70%, she had been gagged, and her face was wrapped with a towel. Bortner’s hands and feet were also bound behind her.

Massachusetts State Police investigators determined that Owens was acquainted with the victim and believed she somehow played a role in the Suffolk County murder of Owens’ son. As part of the investigation, Massachusetts State Police seized an electrical cord and a cotton towel from the home of Owens that linked him to the murder.

Shortly after the murder, Owens fled the United States to the Dominican Republic, but was captured by authorities there.

Co-defendants Julian Squires, 48, and Shannon Squires, 46, were additionally charged for their roles in Bortner’s murder. The Squires were in Bridgewater around the time of the 911 call to Bridgewater Police and assisted Owens in killing and disposing of Bortner’s body. Julian Squires is currently serving a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Shannon Squires is next scheduled to appear in court on July 20.

Assistant District Attorney Cailin Campbell prosecuted the case, which was investigated by Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police, Bridgewater Police, and the MBTA Transit Police.

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