Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Christa Worthington

"Mommy Fell Down"

Map of Massachusetts with Truro locator
Map of Massachusetts with Truro locator

The quaint little town of Truro, Massachusetts, is in many ways representative of the "Old Cape Cod," where fishing is still a way of life and the community of about 1,600 remains closely knit. The town's charm and its naturally rugged beauty is the very thing that lures thousands of affluent city dwellers to the area during the summer months. Truro is a place where people go to escape the grind of city life. Few could imagine anything really horrible happening in such an idyllic place. However, on January 26, 2002, perceptions were drastically altered. That Saturday at around 4:30 p.m., children's book author Tim Arnold, 45, and his father, Bob Arnold, drove next door to their neighbor's secluded bungalow on Depot Road. Tim was hoping that his former girlfriend, Christa Worthington, 46, would be home, because he wanted to return a flashlight he borrowed from her. When he approached the house, he immediately noticed that something was terribly wrong.

Christa Worthington
Christa Worthington

The door to the house looked as if someone had broken in. He peered into the house to get a closer look. To Tim's horror, he saw Christa lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor with her 2 1/2 year-old daughter, Ava, crying and clinging to her body.

Ava must have been relieved to see Tim, because she quickly reached up for him. According to Tim, the little girl told him that her "Mommy fell down," Thomas Fields-Meyer and Jennifer Longley reported in People.

Ava Worthington
Ava Worthington

Even though Ava was in shock and covered in her mother's blood, she was physically unhurt. But her mother was dead.

Tim took Ava outside to the car, where his father was waiting. Hoping to spare her further trauma, Tim spelled out to his father that he thought Christa was "d-e-a-d," Susan Schindehette Anne Driscoll and Jennifer Longley reported in People. Still reeling in disbelief, Tim called the police and informed them of his grisly find.

Worthington's Cottage
Worthington's Cottage

It didn't take long for the authorities to converge on the scene. Detectives quickly realized that Christa's death was not the result of an accident. She was brutally murdered. 

Christa's death sent shock waves throughout the community, which quickly reverberated across the nation. Many couldn't believe that anyone could be so evil as to murder someone, especially in front of her own child. An investigation was quickly launched in the hopes of finding out precisely what happened to Christa and who killed her. It would be another three years before the truth was revealed.

Dominic Dunne's Power, Priviledge and Justice

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