April 25, 2012DALTON–Police and area residents are still trying to make sense of a shooting last week that took the lives of two men and left a third in the hospital fighting for his.
Last Thursday Christopher Smith, 45, is alleged to have shot and killed Joseph Besk, 48, shot and wounded Besk's husband, Wayne Ainsworth, 54, before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.
Ainsworth, 54, placed a 911 call from within his home, located at 643 Whitefield Rd. to report that he was injured as a result of a gunshot wound. First to respond to the scene was Corporal Tony Alba of the Dalton Police Department.
Upon entering the residence, Alba cautiously approached Ainsworth, asking him if anyone else was in the building. Ainsworth reportedly replied, "Yes, there are two." Alba then asked if they were in need of medical attention, at which point Ainsworth responded "No, they are gone."
Within minutes, the Dalton Police Department, assisted by Whitefield Police, Carroll Police, State Troopers and two Coos County medical examiners, arrived at the scene and began the investigation. By 5 p.m. that same evening, the Attorney General's Major Crime unit arrived to process the scene.
Dalton resident, Lawrence Newton of French Road, noticed an ambulance arriving at approximately 1:30 p.m. About an hour later, the ambulance quickly departed the scene and sped off towards Weeks Memorial Hospital in Lancaster with Ainsworth on board. Ainsworth was later transported to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, where his sister, Shari Souliere, reported that he was in "stable condition," according to wire reports.
At this point, numerous phone calls were coming into the Dalton Police Department by concerned townspeople, inquiring if the public was in danger. Dalton Police Chief Mario Audit intentionally kept Chairman Vick St. Cyr abreast of the situation so that in turn, St Cyr could inform worried members of the community that they were, in fact, safe.
Andrea Glidden, who lives across the street from the Ainsworth residence, reported that she was receiving an influx of texts and phone calls while she was at work, asking her about the shooting. "I was naturally concerned, and wasn't sure if I would be able to pass through any roadblocks." Glidden said. As she neared the turn towards her home, she saw emergency vehicles, state troopers and flashing blue lights. To her relief there was no roadblock, and she was able to pass through the chaos.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. the Gliddens heard a knock on their door. As expected, state police wanted to question both Andrea and her husband, David, in an effort to obtain any information they could regarding Ainsworth and the other two men involved in the shooting. "They asked us if we knew them, and if we knew the African-American man." Mrs. Glidden said. "I didn't know anyone other than Wayne even lived there." she added. "We were told that the cleaners may be in the following day and to keep an eye on the place."
Lawrence Newton, another neighbor in close proximity to the Ainsworth residence, was also questioned by police. Newton had been hauling manure the night before the shooting, when he noticed what seemed to be an abnormal amount of activity at the home of Ainsworth.
"I have never seen that many vehicles in and out of there at one time." Newton explained. "I didn't recognize any of the vehicles, but didn't think anything of it."
"Wayne tended to keep to himself." Newton said. "I moved his skidder for him a few times, but that's about it." Newton added that he "did not know Wayne was a registered sex offender". "All I knew was that he was a diesel mechanic at White Mountain Mac for some time." Newton explained.
At approximately 9 a.m. on the morning of April 12, Newton fired up his tractor for yet another day of hauling manure. Newton explained that his tractor was traveling at a speed of about 5-10 miles per hour, which enabled him to take in a great amount of detail about his surroundings. Roughly an hour later, Newton noticed Christopher Smith, dressed in white from head to toe and walking a dog in the front yard. Newton described Smith as a tall African-American man, about 6'3" and of medium build.
Police asked Newton a few simple questions; had he ever been inside the home before, and had ever had a beer with any of the men involved with the shooting. Newton told police that he "only ever saw them in passing".
By Friday afternoon, Attorney General Michael Delaney released a statement announcing that autopsies were conducted on the bodies of two adult males found deceased in the residence.
The cause of Besk's death was determined to be gunshot wounds to the chest and neck, and the manner of his death has been classified as a homicide. The cause of Smith's death was a gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of his death has been classified as a suicide. The third male, Wayne Ainsworth (age 54), is still hospitalized with an apparent gunshot wound.
Based on the investigation conducted to date, it appears that Smith shot and killed Besk and shot and injured Ainsworth before taking his own life.
John Tholl, Dalton's former Police Chief weighed in on the situation, "I knew Wayne Ainsworth, because he had to register every three months at the police department." Tholl added that he "never had an issue with him". When asked if he was aware of how long Christopher Smith resided at 643 Whitefield Road, he replied, "I'm guessing about a year or so, but I could be way off. I know he wasn't a sex offender, because he would have had to register." Tholl went on to say that his only contact with Smith was saying hello on a few occasions. He added that he was "shocked when he heard the news."
Ainsworth and Besk crossed paths while they were both serving prison sentences for felonious sexual assault. In January of 2010, the men held their wedding ceremony at the Northern Correctional Facility in Berlin. This marked the first same sex marriage to take place in a prison in the state of New Hampshire. Jeffery Lyons, Public Information Officer, said during a phone call last week, that he had "never met the couple, but helped facilitate the interview the two had with the Berlin Daily Sun."
In 1994, Ainsworth was tried and convicted of one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault on a victim under the age of 13. He was paroled in March of 2004 and released completely from the system in October of 2006.
In 1993, Joseph Besk was tried and convicted on three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault on a victim under the age of 13. Besk served his sentences back to back, which totaled his time in prison to 18 years. He was sent to live in a halfway house in March of 2011 and released on parole in October of that same year. He was scheduled to be released from parole in 2020. The two were reportedly trying to pick up the pieces and better their lives according to an interview conducted with Joseph's father, John Besk.
Ainsworth attended White Mountain Community College, where he majored in surveying and computer technology. He graduated valedictorian of his class in 2010 and was honored with an award. A picture of Ainsworth, shaking hands with the president of the college, hung in the lobby for the entire year. College staff remarked that Ainsworth was friendly, intelligent, and a hard worker throughout his time at the school.
Joseph Besk had just started taking classes at White Mountain Community College, and was majoring in business administration. A staff member at the school reported that Joseph called to cancel an appointment with the learning center the morning of the shooting.
Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said, in a phone call on April 15th, that he "doesn't anticipate further press releases in the near future." He added that, "it is an active ongoing investigation."