Crime Stuns Town
State Considers Whether to File Murder Charges
By Lara Bricker
Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 30, 2004
[Staff photo by Jay Reiter]
HAMPTON -- Alice Keyho, the 85-year-old woman found dead on her sister's porch last Tuesday, was simply a sweet little old lady, according to those who knew her.
"She was a sweetheart," said Bernice Marzinzik, owner of Marguerite's Beauty Salon, where Keyho had her hair done. "We thought she was an adorable lady, she was very kind."
Keyho hadn't been in to have her hair done for several months. When Marzinzik and her employees heard that Keyho had died and her sister Helen Garland, 74, had been charged with assaulting the woman, they were beside themselves.
"She was a sweet little lady and it really breaks my heart," Marzinzik said.
Keyho, who was mostly deaf, didn't talk much when she was in the salon. The petite woman never complained and had a genuine smile for everyone around her.
While she had stayed with Garland on several occasions, Keyho moved in to Garland's house at 10 Philbrook Terrace permanently last May. Garland told police last week that she was not happy about the living situation and felt her sister was a burden. Her dislike for her sister allegedly led Garland to beat the older woman on several occasions, including last Sunday when she told police she kicked and hit the tiny woman until she was gasping for air.
Garland was transferred from the Rockingham County jail to the Hillsborough County jail Monday morning, Rockingham County Jail Superintendent Gene Charron said. Hillsborough is better equipped to deal with female inmates, he said. Garland is being held in lieu of $25,000 cash or surety bail, four days after she was arrested on assault charges in connection with Keyho's death. She was arraigned Saturday morning in Hampton District Court on three charges of first degree assault for allegedly beating Keyho repeatedly over the head, face and body. Keyho was found dead last Tuesday on the enclosed porch of the house the two shared. Garland allegedly told police she had dragged the woman there after last Sunday's beating and not called 911 until Tuesday morning.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Delaney said Saturday that the state is still considering whether to file murder charges in the case. That decision won't be made until final autopsy results are completed. The exact cause of Keyho's death has not been determined, although a police affidavit released Friday details an extensive list of injuries she suffered, allegedly at her sister's hands.
Philbrook Terrace in Hampton into a parking lot.
[Staff photo by Jay Reiter]
Keyho suffered bruises all over her face and chest, two black eyes, bleeding between her brain and skull and 22 broken ribs, according to autopsy results by Dr. Jennie Duval, deputy chief state medical examiner. Keyho also had a large post-mortem abrasion her back, which appears to be from being dragged across the floor.
Garland allegedly threw a handful of wet paper towels at her bleeding sister after she beat her, telling her to clean herself and the floor, according to an affidavit. Garland told police her sister was gasping for breath at that time.
Although the felony-level charges usually carry a maximum 7½ to 15 year jail penalty, prosecutors used an enhanced penalty because Garland allegedly committed the acts with the "intention of taking advantage of Keyho's age or physical disability," Delaney said. Garland could face 10 to 30 years in jail on each of the three counts if she is convicted. Delaney said authorities were committed to fighting elder abuse in the state.
"Sometimes you think you have seen it all," N.H. Attorney General Peter Heed said during a press conference in front of the Hampton Police Department. "But this case proves there's something new and sad in these types of cases."
Garland called 911 at 6:40 a.m. Tuesday and told police her sister had fallen down the stairs. Garland told police that Keyho had been sitting on the stairs Monday night around 9 p.m. and seemed disoriented. She said her sister was saying: "I don't know where I am."
Garland initially told police she left her sister sitting on the steps, checking on her at 11 p.m., 5:15 a.m. and 6 a.m.
"Helen Garland told me that she checked her sister's pulse and did not feel one," the affidavit states. "(Garland) told me that Alice Keyho's hands were cold."
Garland told police Keyho had not been to a doctor in a number of years and was not on any medications.
The State Police Major Crime Unit was at the Philbrook Terrace home for two days gathering evidence. It allegedly seized bloody clothes from inside the trash in the garage and inside a hamper in the bathroom. It allegedly found blood inside the garage, porch, kitchen, main hallway, bathroom and Keyho's bedroom.
"It needs to be a very methodical process," said State Police Lt. Russell Conti, the head of the Major Crime Unit. "It's very fluid as things unfold, as people speak to us."
Garland stayed with a friend while police searched the home. Hampton Police Detective Lynne Charleston spent the day with Garland Tuesday. The two went to dinner at the Galley Hatch Restaurant where Garland told her: "I don't think I could beat my sister to the condition she was in."
During a police interview on Thursday, Garland told police she and Keyho had eaten Sunday dinner at 2 p.m. March 21.
"Helen later admitted that this was the last meal that Alice Keyho ate," the affidavit states.Garland allegedly told police that her sister was on the kitchen floor propped against a hutch Sunday and that she "backhanded" her older sister with her left hand, hitting her in the mouth and causing it to bleed. She told police she did not mean to kill her.
"I might have given her a boot as I walked by her with the side of my foot. ... I was wearing my slippers," Garland told police, according to the affidavit. She told them she had hit her before. "(I) might have kicked her but lots of times I did that to her. I didn't hit her often. She'd grab hold of my hand so I couldn't hit her again. I would never have hit her in the head, it was around the chin.
Garland told police she may have hit her sister on the head or face at the most four times before the Sunday beating.
"When I hit her, she would bite her lips and bleed," Garland reportedly told police.
After Garland allegedly beat her sister in the kitchen, she said she dragged her out to the porch and left her there.
Heed credited cooperation between Hampton Police, State Police Major Crime Unit, State Police Troop A and his office with the swift arrest in the case.
"This is an example of what we do here in New Hampshire, we fight crime through cooperation," Hampton Police Chief William Wrenn said. "This is a very difficult case to investigate; it's a very sad set of circumstances."