When Luella Blakeslee and Bob Breest first met, he told her he was enrolled at a Manchester college and studying to become a doctor, Kenneth Blakeslee recalls. But it turned out that Breest was a carpenter, an excellent one who built houses. At the time of Luella's disappearance, however, he was unemployed.
In the six months leading up to her death, Blakeslee said his sister experienced the darker, sadistic side of Breest and was deathly afraid of him.
She tried to sever their relationship, but Breest continued to pressure her to marry him, a proposal she rejected. Still, Breest would tell people Luella was his fiancee, Blakeslee said. Blakeslee knew Breest and liked him, finding him "interesting" if something of a braggart.
World traveler Luella had friends in far-off places - Europe, the Middle East, Australia - and as her relationship with Breest soured, she started making plans to relocate to a place where he couldn't find her, Blakeslee said.
Blakeslee was in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Iran in 1969, but had returned in May of that year on emergency leave after their father had a heart attack. Learning what was happening, Blakeslee told his sister he would come back to Hooksett when he was discharged in July 1969, and he would "extract" her from the situation. He would stay and care for their father.
His discharge came two days too late. As he was being discharged that July 6, he got a telephone call from his father and state police telling him Luella was missing and feared dead.
"I felt terrible," he said. In his heart, he knew his sister was dead, but still, he said, he felt there was a 1 percent chance she had found a way to leave her life in Hooksett and Breest behind.
He held onto that slim hope until her remains were found 29 years later.
This past July, the state released Luella's remains to Blakeslee, who had them cremated. He was given most of her personal belongings including some jewelry, her lucky coin and her diary, written in a codified French and English - so snooping individuals, particularly Breest, would be unable to read it - which her best friend translated for state police, Blakeslee said.
He declined to share the diary publicly, saying it was personal and something never meant to be published. But he said diary entries in the six months before her death reveal a woman who still cared for Breest, but greatly feared him and was confused by what he was doing.
Her fear increased, he said, especially after police interviewed her at The Derryfield School about Breest's whereabouts at the time of the January 1969 murder of 11-year-old Debra Horn of Allenstown.
Blakeslee said state police investigators found newspaper clippings of the Horn case inside a dresser drawer in Luella's bedroom after her disappearance. No one was ever charged in Horn's death.
"That would arouse suspicions of investigators," said former county Sheriff Dana Daniels. "Stop and think yourself. If you were going out with a guy and all of a sudden he's a suspect in a murder case, you might keep clippings, too."
It crossed his mind that Breest might have killed Debbie Horn and then killed Luella because she had put two and two together, but he said, while some investigators believed that, he never did because there was another suspect in that case.
Blakeslee said there isn't a page in the diary during the first six months of 1969 that doesn't mention Breest, and most of it is unflattering.
During his visit home in May, Luella told him what was happening, that Breest allegedly punched a man she was with, that he was stalking her, that he was playing games with her German shepherd, King, taking him from her home, so that she searched the neighborhood for hours, only to return home and find him tied up in the yard.
"Breest realized it was not going well, and he was going to lose her," Blakeslee said.
- Pat Grossmith