For Immediate Release
May 7 2010
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery A. Strelzin
New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
The Office of the Attorney General and the Derry Police Department conducted an investigation into an incident which occurred on November 15, 2009 in Derry, New Hampshire. The incident involved Claude and Judith Roberts and resulted in both their deaths. The purpose of this final report is to summarize the findings of the investigation and to confirm that the deaths were due to a murder-suicide incident.
II. Factual Findings
On November 15, 2009, at approximately 5:22 a.m., the Derry Police Department responded to the Roberts residence at 10 Shilah Drive in Derry in response to a 911 call from a male person who was in the residence. The male caller asked the police to send someone to the residence and then hung up. When the police arrived, they found the home secured with no signs of forced entry or the 911 caller. 1
The police called the Derry Fire Department for assistance in making entry into the home. Once that was done, the police located two adults in a bedroom. Claude Roberts (age 76) was found seated in a chair in the bedroom with a bullet wound to the mouth. He was holding a .22 caliber revolver in his hand and was deceased. Claude's wife, Judith Roberts (age 73), was found in a nearby bed. She had an apparent gunshot wound to the head, but was still alive. Mrs. Roberts was transported to the Parkland Medical Center and then to the Massachusetts General Hospital where she eventually died later on that day.
The weapon recovered from Mr. Roberts's hands was identified as an H&R .22 caliber revolver. The revolver contained 7 live rounds and 2 spent shell casings, which was consistent with two shots having been fired.2 The other physical evidence discovered at the scene, including blood spatter, was consistent with a murder-suicide.
Autopsies were conducted on Mr. and Mrs. Roberts. The New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner's Office determined that Mr. Roberts's cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the mouth and the manner of death was suicide. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Massachusetts conducted the autopsy on Mrs. Roberts and determined her cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the head and her manner of death as homicide.
Family members told the police that Mrs. Roberts had several significant medical issues she had been dealing with, including dementia. Mr. Roberts had also been dealing with his own medical issues and had been scheduled to have surgery on November 16, 2009. As a result of Mr. Roberts's surgery, he and his wife were going to live with one of their daughters for four weeks to allow Mr. Roberts time to recover and to assist him in the care of Mrs. Roberts.
No explicit suicide note was discovered. However, some paperwork was placed in an obvious location which provided guidance as to the Roberts' personal and financial affairs.
Based on a careful examination of the circumstances surrounding the November 15, 2009 incident, as detailed in this report, the Attorney General has concluded that the deaths of Judith Roberts and Claude Roberts were due to a murder-suicide incident which was likely motivated by Mr. and Mrs. Roberts' medical issues.
1 Members of the Roberts family eventually identified the male caller's voice as that of Claude Roberts.
2 Mr. and Mrs. Roberts each had a single gunshot wound, which accounts for the two shots fired from the gun.
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