Brendan Burns, the Manchester assistant fire chief who was found dead Sept. 30, died by suicide after being notified by Londonderry police that he was under investigation for sexual assault, according to redacted police reports and a letter from the Londonderry prosecutor obtained through a Right-to-Know request.
The female victim said the assault took place in her Londonderry home on the evening of Sept. 22 after she and Burns went out for drinks. Burns followed the woman to her home, according to the reports.
The alleged assault was recorded by a Nest camera inside the home. Detectives say the video shows Burns and the victim having sex on the living room couch shortly after she became ill in the bathroom.
The woman told police that she did not give consent and that she was impaired. The woman told police she had three beers at a social gathering where she was never alone with Burns, and they did not flirt.
Later, she and Burns got food and margaritas alone together at another location, where she says Burns insisted she drink her cocktail.
She told police they arrived at her home at approximately 10 p.m. but could not remember why Burns followed her home. She let him in after he asked for a tour, she said.
After she became sick in the bathroom, the woman said Burns began suggesting they have sex, but she declined, saying it’s “a bad idea” and pointing out that Burns had a family.
The woman told police the assault began after Burns guided her back to the couch. The woman said she remembers telling Burns multiple times she did not want to have sex. In addition to video recordings at the home, police gathered evidence that included articles of clothing, a Patriots blanket and pillows.
A beer bottle that appeared to have a white substance inside was swabbed for further testing.
Investigators arranged to record a phone conversation between Burns and the alleged victim on Sept. 28, with approval from the state Attorney General’s Office. During the call, Burns acknowledged they both drank too much and “fooled around” but claimed that he did not hear the woman’s protests.
Asked by the woman if they had sex, Burns said they did not have intercourse, which police said was contradicted by the recording.
Police scheduled an interview with Burns for Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. When he failed to show up or answer phone calls from the detective, they began drafting a warrant for his arrest on one or more counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Londonderry police initiated a missing person investigation the next morning and pinged Burns’ cellphone and his truck’s OnStar tracker. They located his unoccupied vehicle in Pelham at the entrance to a conservation area. They found a suicide note inside the vehicle and later discovered his body.
According to a police report, “Mr. Burns may have taken his own life due to the investigation into the allegations against him.”
Lt. Anne Perriello said Pelham police are not commenting on the case while the their investigation is ongoing and they await a detailed autopsy report from the medical examiner’s office.
Pelham police found a gun at the scene, according to the reports. The medical examiner’s office said this week an autopsy determined that Burns died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Londonderry Prosecutor Michael Malaguti said the redactions in the reports were made to protect the identity of the victim and maintain the integrity of Pelham’s untimely death investigation.
In a cover letter attached to the reports, Malaguti acknowledges that disclosure of the events outlined in the reports, while legally required, will be upsetting to those most directly affected by the events.
“To those who will continue to be impacted by these events for the rest of their lives, the Londonderry Police Department extends its deepest sympathy,” Malaguti said in his letter.