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Friday, August 23, 2013

Dead neighbor blamed in June double murder in Nashua, case remains open

NASHUA – The dead neighbor of an elderly couple who were slain in their Newbury Street home last month is being blamed for the killings.

The state Attorney General’s Office said Thursday that evidence quickly pointed to William and Eleanor Grant’s 37-year-old neighbor Shawn Burne after a visiting nurse found the couple’s bodies stabbed multiple times on June 17. ...

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NASHUA – The dead neighbor of an elderly couple who were slain in their Newbury Street home last month is being blamed for the killings.

The state Attorney General’s Office said Thursday that evidence quickly pointed to William and Eleanor Grant’s 37-year-old neighbor Shawn Burne after a visiting nurse found the couple’s bodies stabbed multiple times on June 17.

Police put Burne under surveillance after the murders, and nine days later, June 26, he was discovered dead of an overdose in his home.

Burne left a suicide note claiming he had not killed the Grants, but other evidence pointed to him as the person who had killed them during a robbery.

Since some of the evidence was circumstantial and did not prove Burne committed the murders beyond a reasonable doubt, the investigation will technically remain open, the attorney general said.

“However, based on the totality of the evidence and the reasonable inferences drawn from that evidence, there are no other
obvious suspects in the case and today no other person is being sought in connection with the Grants’ murders,” the attorney general said in a statement.

The news of Burne’s status won’t come as a shock to some people. Speculation grew about Burne after neighbors saw officials bring his body out of the apartment building less than two weeks after the Grants were killed.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin said because the case still is open he could not release more details about the murders, including specifics of what happened inside the home. He said the bodies were discovered on the first floor but couldn’t talk about what Burne took from the home or whether he was surprised during the robbery or ambushed the Grants.

“It’s very frustrating for the family members of the Grants. Ultimately, their parents’ killer has not been brought to justice,” Strelzin said. “In the end, the killer has escaped justice. That’s difficult for them, and that’s frustrating.”

Police were called to the Grants’ 37 Newbury St. home June 17 when a home health aide discovered the bodies of William, 83, and Eleanor Grant, 78, and found evidence that both had been killed as part of a robbery, according to the attorney general.

Evidence quickly pointed to Burne when property belonging to the Grants was found in Burne’s apartment next door. Nothing else was found missing from the Grants’ home, the attorney general said.

Burne lied to detectives about his whereabouts at the time of the murder, but police ultimately found more evidence that linked Burne to the crime, and Nashua police placed Burne under 24-hour surveillance, according to the attorney general.

Police tried and failed to reach Burne after he hadn’t left his apartment for some time. They found his body June 26, and an autopsy revealed he died of “acute intoxication” of anti-depressant, anti-psychotic and anxiety drugs, according to the attorney general.

The Grants lived in the quiet Newbury Street neighborhood for close to 40 years and were longtime parishioners of Infant Jesus Church, a Crown Hill landmark. William Grant worked in construction for most of his life, specializing at one time in aluminum siding and working for a company called Carlton Aluminum.

The murders were the first in a string of grisly incidents that had Nashua residents on edge through much of the summer.

Two weeks after Burne’s body was discovered by police, an explosion and fire on Carlisle Road killed Alfred Demeusy, 65, and caused fears in that neighborhood that a gas leak may have been to blame.

A few days later, police found the bodies of Reginald and Mary Danboise in their Middle Dunstable Road home. Police soon told reporters that it appeared the couple had died as the result of a murder-suicide.

Also on July 13, Nashua police confirmed that they had found the body of 29-year-old mother Sarah McCormack in a car hidden in some bushes off Temple Street. McCormack had been missing since June 26. Police still haven’t released the cause of her death.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).