Getting Answers: background checks prior to alleged Northampton murder

Western Mass News is getting answers after an alleged murder in a Northampton apartment building this past weekend.
Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News is getting answers after an alleged murder in a Northampton apartment building this past weekend.

The suspect and victim were roommates in a program that provides housing to young adults who may be at risk for homelessness. We wanted to know more about the background checks required for these services and the roles they may have played in this tragedy.

The Northampton community is still grappling with the loss of 21-year-old Jana Abromowitz, who investigators said was stabbed to death in her housing unit on Sunday by her roommate, 24-year-old Devin Bryden.

Both Bryden and Abromowitz were a part of the DIAL/SELF program, which provides housing, along with other resources, to young adults who may be at-risk for being homeless.

Western Mass News told you earlier this week the program requires roommates to complete background checks prior to move in. We wanted to learn more about these procedures. Executive Director Phil Ringwood told us:

“Intake procedures include a 19+ page intake form that screens for a variety of trauma histories, as well as any history with state judicial and or mental health systems. Young people also have a ma state criminal background check and federal sex offender registry check completed. Any violent crimes, flagging as a sex offender or histories of violence cause a pause in the process and a referral to other more appropriate housing and shelter options if needed.”

He adds that DIAL/SELF conducts at least one roommate meeting in advance of signing a lease and staff work with the youth to address any concerns they may have during those meetings.

Ringwood said, in part, that “DIAL/SELF housing is for young people under the age of 25.”

Bryden will turn 25 in just over a week and officials said he was worried about being homeless at the end of this time.

Ringwood went on to say:

“Young people approaching their 25th birthday work with staff towards identifying alternative housing for when they ‘age out’ of services. The agency works hand in hand with adult housing and shelter providers to help with warm handoffs for individuals aging out of youth services that still need agency level supports.”

As far as reviewing current procedures, Ringwood said:

“DIAL/SELF continually reviews intake and assessment policies paying attention to best practices from U.S. Health & Human Services, U.S. Housing & Urban Development and other industry partners to ensure they are effective, youth focused and trauma informed. We will continue this normal review process with the added context of this tragic event.”

Bryden is currently being held without bail and is set to face a judge on August 19 for a probable cause hearing.