BRATTLEBORO — A person of interest who was being sought in connection with the suspicious death of a missing Massachusetts woman was shot dead Tuesday night while walking in West Brattleboro by members of the Vermont State Police and the Brattleboro Police Department.
According to a press release from the VSP, during an attempt to speak with the man at about 7:45 p.m., “he was shot by police and has been pronounced deceased.”
Police were investigating the disappearance and death of 23-year-old Mary Anderson of Harvard, Massachusetts - including the details of how and why the missing woman ended up in Brattleboro.
“That's actually a good question,” said Maj. Dan Trudeau, commander of the Vermont State Police Criminal Division in a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, several hours before the altercation. “We're still looking into that. There's no firm connection to the Brattleboro or the Vermont area that we've developed yet.”
“This situation is unfolding, and all circumstances surrounding what occurred are under investigation, including which officers discharged their weapons,” the press release stated. “The name of the deceased man will be withheld pending notification of his next of kin. The Vermont State Police is unable to provide further details at this time.”
Anderson, whose body was found early Tuesday morning inside her Toyota Tacoma parked on Elliot Street in Brattleboro, had been missing since the weekend. She was last seen at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday in Hudson, New Hampshire.
Police say they had identified the truck as part of the interstate effort to locate Anderson and her vehicle. Brattleboro police officers found Anderson's body at about 12:55 a.m. Tuesday, according to a previous VSP news release.
On Tuesday afternoon, police appealed to the public for help locating a person they described as a “person of interest”: Anderson's former boyfriend, Matthew Davis, 34, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
Earlier Tuesday, the Elliot Street scene and the truck were processed by the Vermont State Police Crime Scene Search Team.
Erin Lynch, an Elliot Street resident, told VtDigger that police had taped off a portion of the street near Thomas Lynch Park, including a portion of the park itself. She also said a tent was set up next to a car adjacent to the park.
“It's a little scary,” Lynch, 24, said on Tuesday morning. “A lot of people think it's not a good neighborhood, which, you know, it's fine. Like, we haven't had any problems here. We've lived here for two years.”
Some 12 hours later, Mark Hermanson and Carl Steiner were running a wood splitter about three miles away in West Brattleboro when something pierced the mechanical noise.
“We could hear boom, boom, boom, boom,” Hermanson said.
“I said, 'Sounds like fireworks,'” Steiner said.
When they saw police cruisers arrive, they knew it was something else.
Autopsy and investigation
Anderson's body will be transported to the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Burlington for an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death, and make positive identification.
The autopsy is expected to take place at 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to Trudeau, who anticipates releasing more information about the cause of death.
The inquiry into the fatal shooting is in its infancy and involves members of the Vermont State Police, including the Major Crime Unit, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, and Crime Scene Search Team.
The state police would like to speak with anyone who saw anything suspicious or who might have video that shows the area on or around Elliot Street on Monday, July 18.
Trudeau said that police had been canvassing the Elliot Street neighborhood looking for potential surveillance camera footage of the crime and appealed to the public for any video that could shed light on the circumstances of Anderson's death.
People with video should call the Vermont State Police in Westminster at 802-722-4600, or the Brattleboro Police Department at 802-257-7946.
Vermont State Police investigators are working with counterparts at the Brattleboro Police Department; the Massachusetts State Police, including detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney's Office; and the Harvard (Massachusetts) Police Department.
A crowdfunding campaign has been established to support Anderson's mother and two remaining siblings.
Within seven hours on Tuesday, the GoFundMe campaign raised $6,220 of the $20,000 friends are seeking to help Anderson's family. To donate, visit bit.ly/673-mary.