August 22, 2013

Neighbor likely killed elderly Nashua couple, authorities say

By Kathy McCormack / The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. – When Shawn Burne was found dead in his apartment of an intentional drug overdose in June, Nashua police discovered a note in which he proclaimed he didn't kill the elderly couple who lived next door.

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster's office said Thursday, however, that all evidence points to him as the only suspect.

A visiting nurse discovered the bodies of William Grant, 83, and Eleanor Grant, 78, inside their longtime home on June 17. Autopsies showed they died of multiple stab wounds.

Police said the investigation led to Burne, a 37-year-old who was known to Nashua police and who lived on the second floor of a two-story apartment house next to the Grants.

Authorities did not say what specific evidence linked Burne, whose body was found June 26, to the deaths.

Police didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment and Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said he wasn't allowed to comment further.

Burne's stepmother, Paula Burne, told The Associated Press that she couldn't believe Shawn Burne could turn violent but acknowledged he fought with drug and alcohol addiction.

"To know Shawn was to know that he was a sweet guy," she said from her home in Tucson, Ariz., where she and her husband, Richard, live. "I don't think he's capable of that, but anybody can do anything when they're under the influence of drugs and alcohol."

Paula Burne said she last talked to Shawn in December and everything seemed fine. She said Shawn had two children, was unable to work and collected disability payments.

"I can't picture Shawn hurting anyone," she said.

The attorney general said in a news release that "very quickly" after the Grants were found dead, evidence showed Burne had been in possession of property belonging to them and that he had been in their home after they died.

"Burne also was untruthful with detectives regarding his activities around the time of the murders, lending further credence to his status as a suspect," Foster said in the release.

Police said they had other evidence linking Burne to the killings and kept him under surveillance.

When Burne had not left his apartment in some time, they went in and found him dead.

An autopsy determined he killed himself by an "acute intoxication" of several drugs, including venlafaxine, olanzapine and clonazepam, used to treat depression, schizophrenia and anxiety.

Police believe he killed the couple during a robbery.

The evidence against Burne is insufficient to permanently close the investigation, the attorney general's office said, but "there are no other obvious suspects in the case and today, no other person is being sought."

The couple's daughter, Carol Ann Hilt, told The Associated Press on Thursday there was no relationship between Burne and her parents.

 

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