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Brother held in Nashua slaying

New Hampshire Sunday News

January 19. 2013 8:54PM
Nashua police officer Kevin Landy stands watch outside a homicide scene at 8 Belmont St. in Nashua on Saturday. (MICHAEL COUSINEAU/UNION LEADER)

NASHUA - A 66-year-old shopkeeper is dead and the younger brother she took care of for many years is charged with her murder.

Authorities identified the victim as Judith Rolfe, who lived at 8 Belmont St. with her 65-year-old brother, Duane. Police found her body inside the home shortly after 10 a.m. and arrested Duane Rolfe, charging him with second-degree murder, according to the Attorney General's Office.

Police released no information about how she died or why she was murdered.

Next-door neighbor Lorie Dirocco said she saw Mr. Rolfe handcuffed next to a Nashua police car outside the home, which is across the street from the Elm Street Middle School.

"He was all in blood," she said. He had blood on his long-sleeved shirt and jeans, and was wearing blue slippers, she said.

" . . . It's kind of scary. It was so close to home, and we have three little ones."

Dirocco remembered Judith Rolfe asking about her kids and hosting a garage sale.

"She was as sweet as pie," she said.

The siblings operated McDonald's kitchen shop, a downtown landmark, together for decades, friends said.

Gary Hendricks owns Gary's Boot and Shoe Repair on Factory Street, right next door to the Rolfes' shop. He called what happened "worse than a tragedy."

His wife, Toni Hendricks, said she had talked to Judy Rolfe for more than 20 minutes on Friday and Rolfe was in "excellent" spirits despite undergoing surgery three days earlier for melanoma.

Doctors had discovered another growth and did tests to see whether the cancer had spread to Rolfe's lymph nodes, she said.

Gary Hendricks said the Rolfes had planned to come in to his store on Saturday to pick up mail he'd been holding for them. Instead, police came to ask him about his neighbors.

Later, he learned of Judy Rolfe's death and Duane Rolfe's arrest.

Hendricks said Duane Rolfe "had mental issues" and about a year or so ago had been hospitalized for what Judy Rolfe told him was "a nervous breakdown."

When he first heard of Judy Rolfe's death, Hendricks said, "I thought she may have committed suicide rather than go the cancer route."

Then he learned of Duane Rolfe's arrest.

The siblings "seemed to get along quite well," Hendricks said. "I never heard anything about any disturbances. I'd never seen any bruises on her."

Eric Kilbane, the manager of Castro's Backroom, said Judy Rolfe had taken care of her younger brother for at least 25 years. "He was not capable of taking care of himself. He had some issues there."

Judy Rolfe, Kilbane said, had also taken care of her parents years ago. "She was pretty much taking care of somebody her whole entire life. Poor woman, I don't think she ever got a break."

Kilbane said friends may never know what happened. "Maybe he didn't want to see her in pain," he said. "That's what I'd like to think. Maybe he was worried he was going to be all on his own."

But Toni Hendricks said Judy Rolfe had told her she was worried about getting up and down the stairs with a cumbersome boot she had to wear on the leg that had been operated on. "That was her concern, making sure she didn't trip," she said.

And that's all Hendricks could think about after she learned of her friend's death. "Couldn't it be possible she was at the top of the stairs and she tripped and fell and that's how she hit her head?" she asked her husband. "I would think that it's a possibility."

Of the two siblings, Toni Hendricks said, "she was the talkative one, he was the quiet one."

McDonald's store, she said, has been a "landmark" in Nashua for years. "You go in and it's like going back to the '50s and '60s."

"Even the prices reflect that era."

The store, Eric Hendricks said, "was their hobby." And it was Duane who knew just where any item a customer asked for could be found, he said.

"They didn't make a whole lot of money out of there," he said. "I think it was more or less just something to do for them."

Toni Hendricks said she's trying to find solace in her belief that Judy Rolfe is "at peace."

"She won't be suffering. I just hope that how she died was quick, whether it was a fall or whatever. Because she was a very nice person."

A Nashua police crime investigation van remained at the taped-off crime scene past sunset Saturday.

Duane Rolfe will be arraigned Tuesday in Nashua District Court.

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