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Death of neighbor of homicide victims 'suspicious;' police mum on connection

Union Leader Correspondent

June 28. 2013 7:48PM

Authorities are not saying whether the death of a Nashua man is connected to the next door homicides of an elderly couple last week.

Shawn P. Burne, 37, of 41 Newbury St., was found dead on Wednesday, just 10 days after Burne's neighbors, William and Eleanor Grant, were found stabbed to death on June 17 at their home next door at 37 Newbury St.

While authorities are stressing that Burne's death is not a homicide and is not considered suspicious, neighbors say the man — who lived on the third-floor of a six-unit apartment complex — reportedly died of a drug overdose.

Deputy Police Chief Andrew Lavoie would not comment on whether Burne was a suspect in the double homicide case. He classified the man's death as "unattended," refusing to elaborate on whether it may have been suicide, a drug overdose or a result of natural causes.

Peter Hinckley, assistant Attorney General, said his office is not investigating the latest death in the Crown Hill neighborhood, only the double homicide last week.

According to police and court records, Burne was arrested on Feb. 13 for violating a protective order. According to documents on file at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua Division, Burne made verbal contact with his 89-year-old grandfather, Joseph Felix, at 48 Underhill St. on Feb. 3.

A protective order was issued last August prohibiting Burne from having any contact with Felix, who is suffering from dementia, according to court records.

On May 14 — just six weeks prior to Burne's death — Burne pleaded guilty to the offense and was sentenced by Judge James Leary to 30 days in jail. However, his jail time was all suspended pending one year of good behavior and participation in a drug and alcohol counseling program, as well as a mental health program, according to court documents.

Felicia Sullivan, who resides in the multi-unit apartment complex at 41 Newbury St. where Burne was found dead, said last week that the list of unanswered questions in the Grant killings is causing alarm in the neighborhood.

She acknowledged that her own apartment complex, which abuts the Grant household, has some undisclosed issues that it has been trying to address.

Prior to the double homicide, a surveillance camera had been installed at the front of her three-story apartment building. However, she said last week that the camera had been temporarily dismantled and was not operating the weekend of the killings.

Since then, she said, the camera is back, and a second camera has been installed in the rear of the house. She would not elaborate on why the camera was initially mounted, for fear of retribution or interfering in a police investigation.

Police have refused to comment on any ongoing monitoring in the neighborhood.

William Grant, 83, and Eleanor Grant, 78, had lived in the small Newbury Street residence for more than 40 years, according to neighbors, who described the couple as kind and generous. They had been married for more than 50 years.

No arrests have been made in connection with the deaths, which have both been declared homicides by the New Hampshire Attorney General.

Police Chief John Seusing said recently that the Nashua Police Department has a lot of manpower working the case and has added extra patrols to the Newbury Street area.

"We completely understand why folks in that neighborhood would feel uneasy, but we are doing everything possible to keep them safe," he said last week.

Still, he stressed that citizens need to pay attention to their surroundings and report anything suspicious or uncomfortable. Seusing said the additional police presence and reassurance that the case is being thoroughly investigated should help alleviate some worry.

"We understand their concerns and fears," he added.

Police have remained tight-lipped about the investigation, refusing to answer questions about what type of weapon may have been used, whether there was forced entry into the home or whether any items were stolen.

"I have no comment. It is an active, ongoing investigation," said Hinckley.

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