CUMBERLAND – He was known as “Butch” by his friends and neighbors at Victorian Court, a small, tight-knit condominium complex on Nate Whipple Highway where neighbors often gather outside on a Sunday morning to share small talk over coffee.
On Monday, many of those same neighbors were expressing shock and disbelief after Butch, 73, and his 70-year-old wife were found dead in what police say was a murder-suicide while their daughter and grandchildren were in the couple’s 301 Nate Whipple Highway home on Easter Sunday.
“We’ve lived here for 12 years and never has anything like that happened,” said one neighbor, who didn’t know the couple personally and was unaware that the murder-suicide had occurred just across the way.
“It’s always very quiet here and this is just hard to believe,” said the man, who requested anonymity.
According to Police Chief John Desmarais, the couple was in a bedroom shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday when he apparently shot his wife twice in the torso with his .32-caliber handgun. He then shot himself in the head.
The couple's 40-year-old daughter and three grandchildren were in the house and heard the shots, he said. They called police after discovering the bodies.
"It's just unfortunate that Easter Sunday, they're going to remember this," Desmarais said. "Our hearts go out to them."
The chief says officers recovered the gun and that the husband wrote a note indicating what he planned to do and why. He would not discuss the note's details.
The names of the couple are being withheld until today pending notification of the family and completion of autopsies by the medical examiner's office, Desmarais said.
A woman interviewed at one of the condominium units, a caretaker for a 92-year-old woman who lives there, said she was shocked to hear the news.
“It’s hard to believe that something like this can happen so close to home,” she said.
John Scott, president of the Victorian Court Condominium Association, knew the victims personally, saying the husband, who was known by his knick name “Butch,” was a member and superintendent of the association.
“They were super nice people and he was one of the most popular people in this 28-unit complex,” said Scott, a Victorian Court resident for the past 12 years.
He described the wife, who was always outside doing yard and lawn work, “as the hardest working retiree you ever met.”
Scott said the couple, who lived in the complex for the past 14 years, were retired professionals and by all accounts had “a very loving relationship.”
Married for more than 40 years, the couple had two adult sons and a daughter and three grandchildren, he said. The daughter and the grandchildren lived with the couple.
“You couldn’t ask for better neighbors,” Scott said. “We’re going to miss them terribly. They weren’t just neighbors. They were friends.”
“This is just a tragedy,” Scott added. “We’re pretty close around here so when something like this happens it affects everyone.”