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Police incident at Stacey Burns house raises concerns

LT. DEAN RONDEAU of the Wolfeboro Police Department talks with officers from N.H. State Police Troop E and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Monday afternoon, Oct. 26, after checking out a report that an individual was “in distress” at the Burns residence at 146 North Main St. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
October 29, 2009
WOLFEBORO — Police responded in force to a complaint of an unspecified person in danger at the former home of Stacey Burns Monday afternoon, Oct. 26, in what turned out to be a false alarm.

North Main Street residents and others wondered if an arrest in the unsolved Stacey Burns murder case was finally being made. Eyewitnesses reported that Wolfeboro police cars blocked off North Main Street just past the Sewall Road intersection and blocked off the entrance to Pleasant Street along Sewall Road as well on Monday afternoon, Oct. 26.

Up the street, at 146 North Main, two State Police cruisers blocked the entrance of the driveway at the Burns residence and more police cars were dispatched down Lucas and Pleasant Streets, thereby surrounding the neighborhood and fueling the speculation that an arrest was imminent. A Carroll County Sheriff's Department cruiser was also spotted at the bottom of Friend Street.

Wolfeboro Police Lt. Dean Rondeau reported in a press release that the department was responding to a call to "check the welfare of an individual reported to be in distress." He said they acted on "unclear and incomplete information at the time" but it was apparently alarming enough to call upon N.H. State Police Troop E and the Carroll County Sheriff's department for assistance.

Sheriff Chris Conley said in a phone interview that the caller was describing a second hand account from a woman describing someone else's observations, and while the Wolfeboro Police Department continued to try to contact the original observer, they felt compelled to act as a matter of public safety based on the information they were given.

He explained that the police placed a number of officers around the perimeter to "be prepared in case anything might get out of hand."

Rondeau's press release says that "the subject in question was very cooperative," and it was determined that no laws had been broken and there was "no danger to the individual or the public." The matter was resolved quickly.

The identity of the "subject in question" was not disclosed.

The May 10 murder of Stacey Burns, unsolved after more than five months, was uppermost in the minds of several neighbors standing outside at the top of the hill as they observed the numerous police cars lining the sides of the street, but the event was apparently not directly related to the homicide that took place in the residence in the spring.

Conley says that the still unsolved homicide was most likely a factor in the heightened response, but he termed the Wolfeboro police response as measured, deliberate and very appropriate. He noted that they were able to "stand down" quickly.

A resident of Wolfeboro himself, Conley said that there is good visibility in the community and "people have been very candid about bringing information forward."

Rondeau expressed gratitude for the quick assistance from law enforcement and thanked "all who were momentarily inconvenienced during this event for their understanding and support."

Matin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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