WOBURN, Mass. — Nancy Kerrigan’s low-key family, which struggled with the attention brought on after an attack at a skating competition nearly derailed her Olympic dreams, has again been thrust into the spotlight with the death of her father after what authorities said was a violent struggle with his troubled son.
At his arraignment on Monday, the son, Mark Kerrigan, repeatedly rubbed the knuckles of his handcuffed hands and pleaded not guilty to assaulting 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan at the family’s home in the Boston suburb of Stoneham, where he had been living with his parents. The 45-year-old put his head in his hands and wept but did not speak at his arraignment.
A spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said today that Mark Kerrigan has been sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for a psychological evaluation.
Nancy Kerrigan, a two-time Olympic medal winner, arrived at the family home Monday afternoon and left a couple of hours later without saying anything to reporters waiting outside.
Family members said the death of Daniel Kerrigan, who rushed to the sobbing Nancy and carried her into a locker room after the 1994 attack on her, was unrelated to the argument with his son early Sunday. Daniel Kerrigan’s wife, Brenda Kerrigan, told the Boston Herald newspaper that her husband died of a heart attack and there was nothing suspicious about the death.
Mark Kerrigan, who has a history of domestic violence arrests and was sued by his parents to recover money they spent for taking care of his home while he was in jail, was being held on $10,000 bail. He was released from jail in 2007, according to his lawyer, but it wasn’t immediately clear why he was serving time or for how long he served.
The death of Daniel Kerrigan comes as the national spotlight again turns to one of the most popular sports in the upcoming Olympic Games, just weeks away. The intensity of competition among skaters was never more apparent than in 1994, when an assailant clubbed Nancy Kerrigan on her right knee during practice at the U.S. Championships.
An investigation later revealed rival Tonya Harding had knowledge of the planning of the attack, and U.S. Figure Skating banned her for life.
Daniel Kerrigan, a welder, and his wife nurtured the love of skating in their daughter, who was a self-described tomboy with two hockey-playing big brothers. He drove a Zamboni ice-cleaning machine at the local rink in exchange for practice ice time, and he and his wife took out a second mortgage on their home to help pay for Nancy’s skating lessons.
The family, which pleaded for privacy Monday, said in a brief statement that Daniel Kerrigan was a “wonderful husband” and “a caring and loving father,” but it made no mention of the charge against Mark Kerrigan.
Daniel Kerrigan was found on the floor of his home, unconscious, by officers responding to an emergency call at 1:30 a.m. Sunday. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, and results of an autopsy were pending.
Police said Mark Kerrigan appeared intoxicated when he was found on a couch in the basement of the home and was “belligerent and combative” but coherent when questioned.
“He stated that he wanted to use the phone and his father would not let him,” the arresting officer wrote in a report. “He said he struggled with his father and put his hands around his father’s neck and his father fell to the floor.”
The officers said they saw blood near where Daniel Kerrigan had been treated by emergency workers and signs of a struggle, including three pictures that had apparently been knocked off a wall and a broken piece of the telephone.
Possible further charges against Mark Kerrigan would be based “in large measure” on results of the autopsy, Middlesex District Attorney Gerald Leone said. A final opinion from the state medical examiner was expected within two weeks, Leone said.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Keeley cited Mark Kerrigan’s long criminal record in arguing for bail.
Defense attorney Denise Moore argued he should be released without bail, citing strong ties to the area and time he served overseas in the Army.
“He is extremely distraught over the death of his father and denies any responsibility,” Moore said in court.
She said her client was on medication for post-traumatic stress syndrome and was seeing a psychiatrist.
Nancy Kerrigan, who took the bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and gold at the 1993 U.S. Championships, married her manager, Jerry Solomon, in 1995. They live in Lynnfield and have three children.
A funeral Mass for Kerrigan’s father was scheduled for Thursday.