By Maria Cramer Globe Staff / January 15, 2010
Almost 40 years ago, Edward Corliss held up a store clerk at gunpoint in Salisbury, tried to steal the $15 in his cash register, and then shot him to death before fleeing in a car.
Last month, a day after Christmas, Boston police and prosecutors say, he committed the same crime in a Jamaica Plain store.
Corliss, 63, of Roslindale, was charged yesterday with the Dec. 26 fatal shooting of Surendra Dangol, a 39-year-old Nepalese store clerk who had started working at a Tedeschi Food Shop in Jamaica Plain just days before. Police believe Corliss fled in a white Plymouth Acclaim driven by someone else.
In 1973, Corliss was convicted of killing George Oakes, 61, and sentenced to life in prison. But in May 2006, the state Parole Board voted 5 to 1 to release him as long as he obeyed several conditions, including going into a long-term residential treatment program for substance abuse and undergoing drug and alcohol testing.
The board majority ruled that Corliss understood the depths of his substance abuse problems, but the sixth board member dissented, saying Corliss, “appears to pose [an] ongoing public safety risk.’’
Calls made last night to several parole board members who served at that time were not returned.
When Oakes’s stepdaughter, Mildred Grady, was told by a reporter last night that Corliss had been paroled and had been accused of another robbery, she was shocked.
“I can’t believe that this man would do the same thing all over again,’’ she said in a phone interview. “I’m just flabbergasted.’’
Police began to focus on Corliss last week after a relative told investigators that Corliss had access to a Plymouth Acclaim, said Daniel F. Conley, the Suffolk district attorney. Around the same time, Corliss’s parole officer told investigators that he had a parolee who drove the same kind of car and whose features resembled those of the man in surveillance video of the Dec. 26 shooting, Conley said.
On Jan. 7, the parole board revoked Corliss’s 2006 parole and ordered him back to MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole. Between Wednesday and yesterday, as Corliss waited in prison, police gathered information that allowed them to charge him with murder, said Conley, who would not elaborate.
The Parole Board can revoke parole at their discretion, said Terrel Harris, spokesman for the Executive Office of Public Safety.
Dangol’s wife, Kalpana, who came from Nepal with their daughter for the funeral, plans to be at the arraignment in West Roxbury District Court Tuesday.
In a statement, Kalpana Dangol said she hopes Corliss receives maximum punishment.
“Why did he kill my husband?’’ she said. “My husband gave him everything he asked for. Surendra was the best husband. He worked so hard to support us. Now we don’t know what to do.’’
Commissioner Edward F. Davis said Corliss had no reason to kill Dangol, who cooperated with the robber.
Police have not said how much money was taken.
“Edward Corliss made a decision to not only rob a convenience store, he also robbed Kalpana Dangol of a husband, 9-year-old Sanila of a father, and a community of a sense of peace and security,’’ Davis said. “Corliss will be held accountable.’’
The parallels between the shootings of Dangol and Oakes are chilling. Like Dangol, Oakes was alone and unarmed in his shop, Dot’s Variety Store. Oakes had owned the store, named for his wife, Doris, for 15 years. The couple’s home was attached.
At 10:50 p.m. on Nov. 6, 1971, 10 minutes before closing, the couple was watching television when they heard a doorbell, signaling a customer’s arrival, according to Globe reports at the time. Oakes went into the shop. Soon after, Doris heard sounds of a struggle. When she walked into the store, she saw a stocky man with sideburns shoot her husband twice. There was only $15 in the register, and the gunman left without it.
As in the Dangol case, the getaway car provided investigators the break they needed.
Soon after Oakes was shot, police found a car with bloody fingerprints at Salisbury Beach, about 2 1/2 miles from the store, according to news reports.
Yesterday Conley said investigators consulted with car experts to identify the getaway car and interviewed dozens of people who owned an Acclaim before getting the tips from Corliss’s relative and his parole officer.
“This case boiled down to a methodical, sometimes tedious, shoe-leather investigation,’’ he said.
Corliss’s life of crime began when he was about 17, according to court records. Before killing Oakes, he was arrested on several breaking-and-entering charges, as well as resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
When he killed Oakes, Corliss had escaped from prison, where he had been sent following a breaking-and-entering charge in 1966, according to court records.
He was paroled in 1991, but sent back three months later for leaving the scene of an accident.
Jonathan Saltzman of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Maria Cramer can be reached at email@example.com.