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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Melissa Gutierrez walks into the courtroom for the start of her arraignment Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Melissa Gutierrez walks into the courtroom at Merrimack district court for her arraignment Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Melissa Gutierrez at her arraignment Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Merrimack woman charged in infant’s death arrested in Salem

SALEM – The Merrimack woman charged in connection with the August death of her 8-month-old son is now facing theft and drug possession charges after her Tuesday arrest in Salem.

Salem district court Judge Paul Moore ordered Melissa Gutierrez, 26, of 46 Wilson Hill Road, held on $25,000 cash bail at her Wednesday arraignment, police said. She had been free on bail while awaiting trial for negligent homicide, one of several charges police leveled about two weeks after the Aug. 25, 2011, drowning death of Christian Ntapalis at the Wilson Road home.

Gutierrez is also charged with manslaughter, reckless conduct and endangering the welfare of a child. The negligent homicide trial is set to begin in September.

In the Tuesday incident, Salem Police Lt. Kristin Fili said Gutierrez was arrested outside the Lord & Taylor store at the Mall of Rockingham Park by officers responding to a report of shoplifting. Store employees had detained Gutierrez after allegedly seeing her exit the store without paying for several pairs of jeans.

The employees told police they found damaged security sensors on the floor, which they allege Gutierrez removed from the jeans before putting them in a large bag, according to police. The clothing is valued about $300.

Fili said that while arresting Gutierrez for theft, officers searching her purse discovered containers of pills that weren’t prescribed to her and added two counts of possession of a controlled drug. The drugs were identified in a police affidavit as Alprazolam and Clonazapam, narcotics in the benzodiazepine category that are typically prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

In early September, Gutierrez was arraigned for negligent homicide roughly two weeks after her son was found dead in the bathtub where he was allegedly left unattended. She also pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor charge of failing to appear in court in connection with an unrelated matter, while a judge dismissed theft charges Gutierrez faced for allegedly forging and cashing more than $3,700 in stolen checks.

In the negligent homicide matter, Judge Clifford Kinghorn set Gutierrez’s bail at $50,000 cash or surety.

Merrimack Police Capt. Mike Dudash, the prosecutor, called the baby’s death a serious criminal offense, but public defender Anthony Sculimbrene characterized it as a tragic accident.

Sculimbrene requested $10,000 bail for Gutierrez, but Kinghorn imposed the higher amount because police were unable to locate Gutierrez for a time after the baby’s death. Sculimbrene, however, said a traumatized Gutierrez stayed in a Manchester motel after the death, where she made arrangements for her son’s funeral.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).