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CONCORD, NH – Concord has seen just 10 murders over the last two decades, making the double homicide last week of Steve and Wendy Reid all the more shocking to the capital city of one of the safest states in the country.
Homicides of any kind are rare in New Hampshire, said Laura Dykstra, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Plymouth State University. Dykstra said that the circumstances of this double homicide make it particularly unusual, requiring the collaboration of state, local and now federal law enforcement to solve the Reids’ murders.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations confirmed Tuesday that it was assisting Concord Police and State Police with the investigation. Dykstra said the fact that local agencies have invited the help of the FBI signals that police are taking advantage of every possible tool to solve the Reids’ deaths and make an arrest. The FBI has access to resources that local agencies sometimes lack, including a crime lab where evidence can be analyzed quickly and detectives with additional homicide experience, especially in crimes that cross state lines.
A week after the bodies of the Reids were discovered near the Marsh Loop Trail, police have continued to ask the public for any information from anyone who encountered the couple or hiked on the Broken Ground trails where they were found. Tips can be made anonymously to the Concord Crimeline at 603-226-3100 or by calling the Concord Police Department at 603-225-8600.
“Typically when you’re investigating homicides, you look first at people who are known to the victims,” Dykstra said. “It’s relatively rare to have stranger homicides occur in New Hampshire.”
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and Concord Police have released little information about potential suspects or a motive to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
The Reids, who met in Washington, D.C. decades ago and bonded over a love of fitness and adventure, were found with multiple gunshot wounds after family reported them missing last week. The active couple in their 60s had returned to Steve’s hometown of Concord three years ago to retire. They went for a walk on the afternoon of April 18 from their Alton Woods apartment to the Broken Ground trails, where their bodies were found.
Dykstra called the Reids’ deaths, which do not appear to be linked to any other kind of illegal activity, an “anomaly.” She said that “stranger homicides,” when a victim does not know their killer, are more likely to go unsolved than cases where a victim is killed by someone familiar. When a crime is committed by someone familiar to the victim, there are more avenues for police to follow to crack the case.
Between 2000 and 2020, New Hampshire saw an average of 16 murders a year, according to FBI data. Concord has had a total of 10 murders over the past 20 years.
About one-in-five of the murders between 2000 and 2020 in New Hampshire were carried out by someone the victim didn’t know, according to FBI data. In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 12 murders, with four committed by a stranger to the victim.
In Concord, stranger homicides are even more rare. Just one of the 10 murders between 2000 and 2020 involved someone unknown to the victim.
Of the 138 cold cases listed by the New Hampshire Department of Justice, 122 are homicides or suspicious deaths, while the rest are missing persons cases. Among the cold case homicides and suspicious deaths, there are 32 cases where a victim was shot, two of which have been solved.
Shooting deaths made up 26.5% of the state’s 113 cold cases for homicides or suspicious deaths that have yet to be solved.
One name that does not appear on the state’s list of cold case victims is Denise Robert, who was fatally shot while walking alone in her Manchester neighborhood in August 2015, in a murder that has yet to be solved. While three other murder victims appear on a list of unsolved crimes on the Manchester Crimeline website, she was the only victim killed by gunfire.
Some cases of stranger homicide are successfully solved. Mont Vernon resident Kimberly Cates was fatally stabbed in 2009 when a group of teenagers invaded her home. Her 11-year-old daughter Jaimie survived the attack. Four young men were convicted in connection with the home invasion.
“Random acts of violence happen: they’re just very rare, which is a good thing,” Dykstra said. “Statistically, nothing has changed. New Hampshire is still the same place it always was.”
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