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Neighbor: Accused tot killer seemed 'decent'

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

December 15. 2017 12:09AM
A woman who would not give her name leaves Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on Dec. 14. She left with a group believed to be family members of Jacob Pelletier, the 2-year-old boy who died of blunt force trama to the abdomen. Mark Heath, who is charged with the little boy's murder, waived his arraignment. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



MANCHESTER — Mark Heath, the man accused of killing his girlfriend’s son with blows to the abdomen, came across as a respectful, “overall decent person,” his neighbor said Thursday.

In fact, Eric Landry said he never heard Heath lose his temper or raise his voice to the two children he lived with on the second floor of 551 Howe St.

Landry lives on the first floor of the three-story building, directly underneath the apartment where police found Jacob Pelletier, 2, unconscious and badly injured on Monday morning.

Jacob was rushed to Elliot Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Heath, 32, was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder in the boy’s death. On Thursday, he waived an arraignment in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North and will be held without bail at Valley Street jail, said homicide prosecutor Susan Morrell.

A source said Heath is on suicide watch at the jail.

Family members of the boy walked through the courthouse lobby at one point, but a victim-witness advocate with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office said the family wants privacy at this time.

Morrell, a senior assistant attorney general, provided few details to a throng of reporters at the courthouse. She would not describe the relationship between Jacob’s mother and Heath, but she confirmed that Jacob and Heath shared the same apartment.

Heath is being represented by a public defender, Morrell said. The case will eventually have to go before a Hillsborough County grand jury. Morrell said that usually takes place 60 to 90 days after an arrest.

Howe Street is a street of neat single- and multi-family homes in south Manchester between South Maple and Cypress.

Landry met Heath in September when Landry moved into the building.

“He was an overall decent guy,” Landry said. “Since I’ve lived there, I’ve never heard him yell.”

Landry has three children who played with the Pelletier children at times. Landry’s 3-year-old daughter was fond of Heath, and he would pick her up when she ran to him.

Heath treated Jacob as if he were his own son, Landry said.

“To even think he would have done this to a child, it’s not the Mark I know,” he said.

Heath has several profiles on social media.

His most recent Facebook page shows him glaring into the camera. He wears a diamond earring, a black cap backward, and a sparkling gangster-like necklace. A tattoo that appears to be a name is on his neck.

His posts include a Bible verse: “When I was brought low, He saved me. Psalm 116:6.” There’s a picture of a large, multi-generational family at a lake, The most recent post was his profile picture, in September. The page lists about 40 friends, including family members and fellow Manchester High School Central graduates.

He has several Facebook pages, and another comprised only of messages. A Mark Heath Facebook page has a September 2014 post of a meme: “People say I need anger management classes. But if you knew the stupid people I’m surrounded by you’d understand the problem.”

According to Union Leader archives, Heath was involved in a police chase in February 2012. At Heath’s arraignment, the prosecutor told the judge that Heath had convictions involving ID fraud, drugs and domestic-related criminal threatening.

And in 2003, police charged someone with his name and age with animal cruelty and marijuana possession.

Landry said Heath was a stereo enthusiast, and Heath entered his homemade speakers and woofers into contests. Ever polite, Heath would text Landry to ask if it was OK to play his music loud. Heath favored hip hop and listened to some rock.

“Now it’s quiet,” Landry said about the upstairs, “and why it’s quiet makes it pretty eerie.”

Landry said he’s had to speak to his children — 11, 8 and 3 — about what happened to Jacob. He tailored each message based on their age.

“It was a learning lesson for myself,” he said. “You never know who someone is behind closed doors.”

A relative has set up a GoFundMe site to raise $10,000 to offset funeral expenses for Jacob. Casey Nelan of Londonderry, who said Jacob is her second cousin, set up the site to help Pelletier’s family. It had raised $6,600 as of Thursday afternoon. The site is at www.gofundme.com/help-for-funeral-costs-of-2-yr-old.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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