Canton Cover-Up Part 112: Same Canton Officers Who Covered For Albert And McCabes Failed To Properly Investigate Sandra Birchmore Alleged Suicide


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In September I published a story about the death of Sandra Birchmore, the pregnant woman living in Canton who reportedly killed herself after being broken up with a married Stoughton Police Officer named Matthew Farwell, who she said was the father of her unborn baby. I believed at the time that it was indeed a suicide, but in light of what I’ve learned in the last four months covering the coverup of John O’Keefe’s murder, I believe it is much more likely that Sandra Birchmore was murdered.

Here’s a brief refresher of the original story:

  • Sandra Birchmore was a 23 year old woman who as a student was part of a program at Stoughton High School, run by former Deputy Chief Robert Devine, that got kids interested in becoming police officers.

  • Sandra had a tragic life, as her father wasn’t around, her mother and grandmother both died in 2016, and her other aunt died in 2019.
  • Matt and Billy Farwell are twin brothers and former Stoughton High School students who went through the same program Sandra did with Robert Devine 12 years earlier. Both would go on to become Stoughton Police Officers. Matt Farwell was promoted to detective in 2017.

  • Matt Farwell helped Devine with the high school cadet program, which is where he met Sandra Birchmore when she was 13. He preyed on her vulnerability and began a sexual relationship with her when she was 15 and he was 27. Birchmore was a babysitter for Matt Farwell and his wife, who gave birth right around the time Birchmore was killed.

  • Farwell continued to have a sexual relationship with Birchmore after she graduated in 2016, but eventually “passed her off” to his brother Billy, Devine, and an animal control officer named Joshua Heal, who all had sex with her in exchange for cat.
  • Heal ended up becoming an Abington Police Officer, and quickly became the high school resource officer, before being placed on leave after the allegations became public.


  • Birchmore considered Farwell her boyfriend and wanted him to leave his wife and children for her after she became pregnant with his baby.
  • All of the officers resigned in disgrace, and Stought PD Chief McNamara put them on the POST commission’s list so that they can’t get hired elsewhere. Devine is now an attorney living in Stoughton, Matt Farwell owns his own company, and Billy Farwell is believed to be working for TSA in New Mexico.

Birchmore’s death was the featured story of Season 2 of Kirk Minihane’s podcast, The Case, which garnered more attention and pursued the theory that Birchmore was murdered. They played surveillance video from Birchmore’s Canton apartment on February 1, the day she died, which showed Birchmore seemingly going about her business throughout the afternoon by picking up a package and scraping ice off of her car.  At 9:28 PM Farwell walks into the building with a mask on, and is seen exiting 28 minutes later at 9:56. She seems glued to her phone at all times.

One of the first things you notice is the size difference between the two.

Farwell is at least 6’3″, if not taller, and Birchmore was more than a foot shorter. He clearly had the physical capability of killing her with his bare hands if he wanted to.

Sandra Birchmore worked as a teacher’s aide in Sharon, and after she didn’t show up for work Canton Police did a well being check on February 4 where they found her dead in her bedroom. She had apparently killed herself with the strap from a gym bag by tying one end around her neck, and the other end around a door handle. This is an extremely painful, and hard way to kill yourself because it requires the person to continue to intentionally deprive themselves of oxygen for over a minute. At any point the person can stop doing it after having second thoughts, as opposed to jumping off a bridge or shooting yourself in the head, which is quick and doesn’t give the person the chance to stop the inevitable.

The manner in which Sandra Birchmore reportedly killed herself is rare outside of prison. Convicts who see no way out don’t have a lot of ways or opportunities available to them to commit suicide. In Season 2 of The Wire D’Angelo Barksdale is murdered while in prison, and his body is placed in the exact same way Birchmore’s was found.

But the three agencies that determined that Karen Read’s Lexus was responsible for John O’Keefe’s gruesome murder – Canton Police, State Police, and Norfolk County DA’s Office – never pursued any other any angle except suicide in Birchmore’s death. They did not investigate Matt Farwell’s potential involvement in her death, and they made a lot of the same mistakes they did in the Karen Read case. In both instances a police officer was not treated the way a normal civilian would be, despite being potential suspects under normal circumstances.

According to the police report one of the first officers on the scene was then Sgt. Michael Lank (now a Lieutenant).


Lt Lank:

  • Is a close friend of the Alberts
  • Was not on duty when he was specifically called in to respond to 34 Fairview Road after the discover of John O’Keefe’s body

  • Was the only officer who went inside 34 Fairview Road, spoke with the Alberts, and never suggested having the house searched

  • Was personally called back to 34 Fairview Road by Jennifer McCabe at 8:38 AM, after she “recalled” and forgot to mention to Lank the first time that Karen Read had allegedly said, “could I have hit him” while driving around looking for John
  • The Canton Police were no longer in charge of the investigation when Lank allowed McCabe to amend her statement
  • Lank was part of the search team that found no tail light fragments in the area where O’Keefe’s body was discovered at 6 AM, but has remained silent since State Police claimed they found dozens of pieces of tail light fragments and a missing shoe 12 hours later after a foot of snow had fallen
  • Lank repeated Jen McCabe’s lies in testimony to the grand jury in April 2022, which led to Karen Read being charged with second degree murder, and prevented McCabe from becoming a suspect

  • Lank was contacted by Chis Albert while drunk and off duty in 2002, alerted that Chris had just been in a fight with Marc and Alfredo Lopilato, and ended up punching and arresting the brothers despite not being on duty and under the influence of alcohol
  • Was sued by the brothers, along with the other officers and the Town of Canton, after they were acquitted

  • Has been the subject of 7 complaints, second most on the Canton Police Department, none of which were sustained by internal investigations, and 5 of which included allegations of unprofessionalism
Canton Police Report - Birchmore 020421 - Two
POST-1st-Report 2

The prosecutor in the case against the Lopilato brothers reached out to us in April and told us he had been deceived by the Canton Police Department and was upset that he was tasked with trying a loser case, because CPD did not disclose the facts of the case to him.

I was the prosector in the case against Marc and Anthony Lopilato. I tried the case in Dedham District Court in 2003 or 2004. Dedham is the jury session for the Stoughton District Court. My case took a day and a half. The case on behalf of both brothers took an hour and fifteen minutes. Jury was back immediately.

I remember the case for two reasons. First, I kept saying Centerfolds instead of Centerfields and the judge, Judge Zaleski, reminded me that Centerfolds was a gentleman’s club in Boston on numerous occasions. Second, was how I felt after the jury came back. I felt like a complete scumbag for believing whoever the Canton cop was (Lank). I think he left before the jury even came back. Their attorney was excellent. I do not remember his name but before trial he warned me that things aren’t always what they seem and he was absolutely right.

Despite all of this Lank has been promoted twice since then.

Lank was one of the first Canton police officers to discover Sandra Birchmore’s body. He put the wrong date on his report (February 2 instead of February 1), and said he reviewed the surveillance video posted above. It’s noteworthy that he NEVER mentions Farwell going into the apartment.

Canton Police Report - Birchmore 020421 - Two

His report later goes on to mention that Detective Kevin Albert, the brother of Brian and Chris Albert and Crossfit friend of Michael Proctor, was called to the scene to investigate as well.

Neither apparently thought the death was suspicious, despite the fact that Birchmore had just picked up several items for her unborn baby, indicating that she wasn’t suicidal.

The State Police took over the investigation into Birchmore’s death, just as they did with John O’Keefe’s death, and it’s unclear why that is. Norfolk County consists of 27 towns, and has roughly 50 suicides a year. Why are the State Police, who oversee 27 towns, in charge of investigating suicides, instead of the local police who only oversee 1 town? We’ll explore what they got wrong in Part 113.


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