March 07. 2013 8:38AM

Police continue to investigate suspicious death of woman in Exeter

Union Leader Correspondent

Police placed yellow crime scene tape around a Hyundai Elantra parked outside the abandoned City Concrete building in Exeter. Firefighters responding to a fire in the building discovered a body inside the plant. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

A State Police Major Crime truck arrived at the entrance to an abandoned concrete plant in Exeter around noon Thursday. State and local police are investigating after a body was found inside by firefighters who arrived to battle a fire. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

EXETER — The state Attorney General's Office and State Police Major Crime Unit have joined Exeter police in their investigation of a woman's body found during a fire inside an abandoned concrete plant Thursday morning.

The body of the unidentified woman was discovered by firefighters when they arrived to fight a fire reported around 7 a.m. on the second floor of the old City Concrete building at 2 Hampton Road.  An autopsy will be performed Friday in an attempt to determine a cause of death.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell, who has been assigned to the case, declined to provide details on the probe. A press release issued by the Attorney General's Office late Thursday called it a "suspicious death."

The grisly discovery prompted investigators to spend much of the day searching the area around the concrete plant, which closed some 20 years ago.

Police wrapped yellow crime-scene tape around a dark gray Hyundai Elantra with New Hampshire license plates parked at the entrance to the plant and later put a tent over the vehicle and tarps around it. Police took numerous photographs of the car, which passersby said was parked at the plant since early Thursday morning.

Fire Chief Brian Comeau said the fire was small and that he wasn't sure how it started. The fire was considered suspicious from the start because it's a vacant building with no electricity.

"It's very early in the incident," he said, referring all further comments to police.

State police arrived at the scene just before 8:30 a.m., followed by investigators from the state Fire Marshal's Office. By late morning, investigators began focusing their attention on a Dumpster located outside the Exeter Recreation Center next door. They appeared to be searching for evidence and at one point placed a tarp over the top. They also snapped photographs around the Dumpster and taped off an area behind a shed on the recreation center property.

State police later began searching a black Honda parked across the street at Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics. They spent about an hour inspecting the vehicle.

The scene at the concrete plant startled Angie Estright, who works at Myers Chiropractic Clinic across the street and noticed the fire on her way to work just before 7 a.m.

"I could see flames and smoke pouring from the windows," she said. Estright said she saw fire trucks pulling into the concrete plant as soon as she arrived at work.

Police are known to patrol the old plant on a routine basis, often parking their cruisers at the entrance. "Everybody in the area knows that," she said.

Previous story follows:

EXETER - Authorities are investigating after a body was discovered inside an abandoned concrete plant where a fire was reported Thursday morning.

Exeter police Capt. Bill Shupe said the body was found by firefighters when they arrived at the scene around 7 a.m. at the old City Concrete building at 2 Hampton Road.

Police have released few details about the body found inside the concrete plant. It is believed to be a woman, but no other information has been made available.

The state Attorney General's Office has joined the investigation. "We are aware of the scene and we are sending personnel to assist Major Crime and Exeter police," associate attorney general Jane Young said this afternoon. Young would not provide more details on the investigation.

Police earlier in the day wrapped yellow crime scene tape around a gray Hyundai Elantra parked at the entrance to the plant. Later, they placed a tent and tarps around the car and did not explain how the car may be connected.

Shortly after noon, state and local police remained at the scene. A state police major crime unit truck arrived just after noon. A short time earlier, police appeared to be searching a Dumpster located at the Exeter recreation center and placed a tarp over it. The recreation center is located next to the concrete plant. Yellow crime scene tape remained across the entrance to the recreation center and the concrete plant.

Investigators took numerous photographs of the car after firefighters quickly knocked down the fire on the second floor of the building.

Fire Chief Brian Comeau said the fire was small and that he wasn't sure how it may have started.

State police arrived just before 8:30 a.m. to assist Exeter police in the investigation. The state fire marshal's office was also expected to send an investigator.