BRENTWOOD — A 79-year-old Derry man has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the death of his wife, who died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.
Roderick Munstis appeared briefly for his arraignment Monday in Rockingham County Superior Court on two counts of second-degree murder.
Munstis was arrested shortly after his wife, Ellen, 74, was found dead inside their home at 151 Bypass 28 in Derry early Saturday morning. Derry police responded to their home at approximately 12:03 a.m. after Munstis called 911.
Munstis was escorted into the courtroom and remained seated throughout his arraignment on the two charges that allege alternative theories. Both charges accuse him of shooting his wife, but one alleges he “knowingly” caused her death, while the other suggests that he “recklessly” killed her.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati said an autopsy performed Sunday determined that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and that the manner of death was homicide.
Authorities have not hinted at a possible motive for the deadly shooting.
“Investigators are still working on that as we speak. As you saw Mr. Munstis in the courtroom today, there’s still a big question as to why these actions were carried out. We’re going to hope to get to the bottom of that by the end of the investigation. Not too much more I can say about that at this point,” Agati said after the arraignment.‘
Munstis is being held without bail at the Rockingham County jail and was ordered to have no contact with his deceased wife’s family.
Agati said investigators have located some family members and are in the process of speaking with them.
When asked if it’s possible that either Munstis or his wife had health issues, Agati said, “At this point I don’t have anything concrete that I can necessarily go into nor do I have enough time to actually be able to answer the question, unfortunately. We’re going to need a little bit more time.”
Agati said Munstis and his wife lived together at the Derry home, but an assessment interview report from the county jail indicated that he lived alone. Agati also said Munstis had no substance abuse history and no mental health diagnosis.
An affidavit in the case has been sealed from public view.