Hiking

FBI joins search for killer in Concord, NH, couple shot dead on hiking trail

The calm of the landscape reflected, at least publicly, the status of the investigation. Despite receiving more than 60 tips on Monday, police have not released any new information to the public for days. It is unclear when the Reids were killed or who discovered the bodies on Thursday. Perhaps the biggest development of the week is the involvement of the FBI, which will help investigate the murders. Still, authorities maintained they did not believe the general public was at risk.

“We are actively investigating this high priority case with our law enforcement partners, including the FBI,” New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella spokesman Michael Garrity wrote in an email Wednesday. mail. “New Hampshire is a small state and we routinely work with and are assisted by many local, state and federal agencies when it comes to major homicide investigations.”

Djeswende and Stephen Reid were shot several times last week along the Marsh Loop Trail in Concord, NHNH AG office

Lovers of the outdoors, the Reids often hiked the Broken Ground trail system. While the trails may not have the grandeur of the White Mountains to the north, they offer a quick retreat into nature and are within walking distance of the Alton Woods apartment complex, where the couple lived for three years and was last seen on April 18 at 2:22 p.m.

Brian Reid, the couple’s son, told the Concord Monitor that his parents had left their phones at home. Her father’s wallet was still inside the flat on April 20 when the family reported the couple missing to police after they failed to show up for a family obligation.

Taking the most direct route to the trail network requires heading around the back of the sprawling complex of several buildings and taking a worn path through a small field that adjoins the highway and drops off a walker on the road one-way residential Portsmouth. The Broken Ground trailhead is across an underpass.

The Alton Woods apartment complex where married couple Djeswende and Stephen Reid lived in Concord, NH
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Police say the Reids’ bodies were found Thursday evening near power lines, and therefore just west of the official Marsh Loop Trail, a 1.5-mile, mostly flat trail through the marshes and the woods, accessible from at least five different entrances. An autopsy revealed that the two suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died by homicide.

With no new information from police, vague speculation has bubbled up to fill the void. Homicides are not common in New Hampshire, which averages just 19 a year, according to the attorney general’s office. Concord itself saw three murders last year, and only seven in the previous five years.

Yet a widely shared online article detailing the deaths of people in the Merrimack Valley over the past five years has suggested some may be connected. (A review of those cases by the Globe found most were attributed to suicide, overdose or drowning.) The suspicious deaths of a man and woman on Wednesday in Gorham, NH, a small town in the White Mountains, also raised eyebrows.

A photo from the Marsh Loop Trail in Concord, NH The bodies of Djeswende and Stephen Reid were discovered near the trail in the early evening of April 21. Both victims had been shot multiple times, according to Attorney General John M. Formella’s office. .
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

But a law enforcement official familiar with Gorham’s investigation said there was no connection to the Concord killings. Autopsies, which will reveal the mode of death in the Gorham case, are expected to be performed on Thursday.

Some nervously wondered if the Concord murders might have been racially motivated. (Stephen was white and Djeswende was black.) Others pointed to Steve’s long career with USAID, the federal agency responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance, to get clues.

Ed Davis, a former Boston police commissioner who led the private investigation into the shooting of David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic, said Wednesday the FBI could provide what he called “worldly” technical assistance given massive agency resources in the forensic field.

“It’s hard to speculate, but it could be a range of very mundane possibilities, such as a request for assistance from office police to help process physical evidence and lend their expertise to a case that can cross state lines.” Davis, who is a security consultant for the Boston Globe, said. ”Those are pretty simple explanations for it.”

But, Davis added, he was also struck by the fact that Stephen Reid had an international career in humanitarian organizations linked to USAID.

“I noticed that one of the victims worked internationally. I’m not sure what he did,” Davis said. “The nature of this homicide was brutal, targeted. And the killing of a husband and wife is very, very unusual. With someone who was working all over the world – you don’t know what some of the background stuff is. There is probably a simple explanation [for the FBI involvement]…but you can’t ignore that there might be something international at play here.

Steve Reid was originally from Concord, but his humanitarian work has taken him to many corners of the world. He joined the Peace Corps out of college, spending four years in West Africa teaching English, according to a statement released by the family. Then he met Djeswende in Washington, D.C., where she was attending college on an athletic scholarship.

About three years ago, the couple moved to Concord and began the next chapter of their lives in a rental unit within the Alton Woods apartment complex, a community spread over 40 wooded acres that boasts the motto “Contemporary Living in a rural setting. Retirees like the Reids, families and young professionals fill its many brick buildings.

Last year, one of Concord’s three murders occurred at the resort when 31-year-old Cody Tewell was fatally shot in October. The case remains unsolved, but authorities said it does not appear to be linked to the murders last week.

On Tuesday, residents moved to and from their cars. Some took out the trash, walked their dogs or sat on chairs on their balconies until the steady rain forced them inside.

A resident – a Maine native and Navy veteran who lived in the same building as the Reids but didn’t know them – said he moved to Alton Woods from Indiana to live a quieter retirement life in the northeast.

“I used to give Indiana a boost because all the serial killers came through there, from the South, from the Midwest. And for a rural state, there were a lot of killings,” said said the resident, who declined to share his name.Indeed, Indiana has the 13th highest murder rate among states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while New Hampshire has the lowest. “Now this kind of thing is happening to what seem like perfectly nice people. I mean, who knows?

Globe staff’s Travis Andersen contributed.


Hanna Krueger can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @hannaskrueger. John R. Ellement can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.