Husband Arrested in Cambridge Murder

The husband of a Cambridge woman who was bludgeoned to death with a hammer last weekend was arrested and arraigned yesterday on charges of assault with intent to murder and murder in the first degree.

Dennis J. Whalen, 54, of Elm Street in Cambridge, pleaded not guilty to the two charges and was held in Cambridge City Jail on $1 million bond, according to police department spokesperson Det. Frank Pasquarello.

A warrant for the murder of Rosalie Whalen, 54, was issued for her husband Monday night, police said, and he turned himself over to authorities at 11 a.m. yesterday on the steps of the Cambridge Third District Courthouse.

Judge Arthur Sherman denied a lower bail request made by Boston defense attorney John Mee. "The nature of the crime is shocking," the judge said. Whalen could face a life sentence if convicted of the charges.

Mee said Whalen is an upstanding citizen and that his client could not possibly be guilty of the charges.


Whalen had called police Saturday morning claiming that his wife had been injured in a burglary. Police responded and found Whalen lying dead on the floor of her first floor apartment. She had received 15 or 16 hammer blows to the head.

Assistant Distant Attorney Tamagingi described the scene as a "virtual bloodbath."

Cambridge homicide detectives, in conjunction with the state police, began a round-the-clock investigation of the killing after finding the body Saturday. Detectives searched inside the Whalen home and scoured the grounds for clues.

In the search, police removed a hammer from the Whalen home, Pasquarello said. This instrument was the murder weapon, police said.

When Whalen called police Saturday morning, he told the dispatcher that he found his wife's body, as well as signs of a break-in, after returning from doing errands, police said. Detectives later determined that there was nobreak-in, and that Dennis Whalen never left thehouse, police said.

Tamagini, the prosecutor for the case, saidDennis Whalen was at a Cambridge bar Friday nightbefore his wife's body was found. Witnesses saidWhalen appeared ill and nervous, according toTamagini.

Several of the bar's patrons eventually tookDennis Whalen home that Friday night, theassistant district attorney said. But uponarrival, Whalen would not allow anyone into hishome and he refused to go in himself, Tamaginisaid.

Whalen will return to court on Oct. 21 for apre-trial conference, according to Jill Reilly,spokesperson for the Middlesex County DistrictAttorney's Office.

After the arraignment, defense attorney Meeexpressed disappointment with Sherman's decision."Bail was too high under these circumstances,although I understand Judge Sherman's reasoning,"Mee said.

While unable to comment on defense strategy,Mee stated that Whalen is "clothed in thepresumption of innocence," and that the courtwould deal with him accordingly.

Mee said Whalen has suffered from depressionfor years. In 1990, Whalen was so troubled by thesuicide of one of his two daughters that he soughttreatment at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mee said.

Mee said the Whalens had been married for 36years and that Dennis has worked for Conrail forthe past 30 years, most recently as a trainconductor