WELLFLEET — Former Provincetown Police Detective Meredith Lobur began her new job as assistant harbormaster in Wellfleet on July 13, four days before being placed on a list of untrustworthy law enforcement officers for alleged misconduct in her investigation into the “Lady in the Dunes” murder.
According to Town Administrator Rich Waldo, he hired Lobur on June 20, a month before she was placed on the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Brady list. She serves as a part-time seasonal assistant harbormaster during the summers on an “as needed” basis, Waldo said.
The Brady list is maintained by district attorneys because prosecutors are required to disclose any exculpatory evidence to defendants, including when a law enforcement official has a record of lying in an official capacity.
District Attorney Rob Galibois sent Provincetown Police Chief Jim Golden a letter on July 17 explaining that Lobur had been placed on the list for conduct “probative of how the officer conducts police investigations,” regarding Lobur’s 2013 exhumation of “Lady in the Dunes” victim Ruth Terry.
A letter to Lobur from Galibois dated April 3 of this year alleged that Lobur had exhumed Terry’s body in Provincetown’s St. Peter’s Cemetery “without lawful authority to do so.” That letter further states that Lobur conducted the exhumation “without notifying the Massachusetts State Police Detectives assigned to the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office.”
Author Deborah Halber recounted receiving a call from Lobur in her 2014 book Skeleton Crew: How Amatuer Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases after witnessing the 2013 exhumation. According to Halber, Lobur told her at the time that she was “doing it on the QT.”
Lobur “voluntarily retired” from the Provincetown Police Dept. on July 2, according to her lawyer, J.W. Carney.
Waldo would not comment on whether he knew about Lobur’s record when he hired her but said, “Put the dates together,” implying he could not have known.
Lobur’s duties as assistant harbormaster will mostly be logistical, Waldo said; she will “help the fuel dock, help the boats come in and out, those kinds of things.” According to Mass. General Laws, however, harbormasters and assistant harbormasters also enforce state maritime rules and regulations and local boating bylaws alongside local, state, and environmental police.
Mass. General Laws also state that harbormasters and assistant harbormasters are required to undergo training within the first two years of being appointed. Waldo said, however, that Lobur will not need certification for her new position.
“The seasonal assistant harbormaster position is not law enforcement,” Wellfleet Harbormaster Will Sullivan asserted in an email on Aug. 22. “The role does not require any certification,” he wrote.
When reached by telephone, Lobur did not speak about her new job. Instead, she wrote an email about her work investigating Ruth Terry’s murder: “There was no malfeasance or anything improper done in my investigation,” Lobur wrote. “I look forward to when the full truth about my role in giving Ms. Terry her name back and providing resolution and solace to the Terry/Hanchett family is told.”
On Aug. 22, as this edition of the Independent was going to press, the Mass. Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, an oversight board established in 2020, made public a database containing more than 3,400 records of police officers accused of misconduct since 1984. The list includes officers who resigned or retired to avoid discipline. Lobur is not on the list.
A WBUR investigation in 2022 found that officers who were fired or resigned from one department were able to move to another department with relative ease. That investigation found more than a dozen officers across the state who had faced misconduct investigations in their previous departments.
And that is with proper oversight channels in place. Another WBUR report from 2020 found that many Mass. district attorneys do not have Brady lists, calling into question the validity of police testimony in court.
While the 1963 Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, for which the Brady list is named, requires prosecutors to disclose all information favorable to the defense, it is debated whether that requires district attorneys to keep formal lists of officers accused of misconduct.
According to the WBUR report, there were at least five district attorneys in Massachusetts in 2020 without Brady lists. Since then, the Cape and Islands District Attorney created one. According to the office’s media contact, Danielle Whitney, Galibois established a Brady list in 2023 when he took office. There are currently six officers on the list.