Residents Troubled, Puzzled

Quiet Neighborhood Overrun With Police

By Lara Bricker

Hampton Union, Friday, March 26, 2004

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
{Photo left} State police investigators and members of the medical examiner's office confer in front of the Hampton house where they are investigating an untimely death. [Staff Photo by Jay Reiter]

HAMPTON - Philbrook Terrace, a small neighborhood a short distance from Route 1, made up mostly of retired residents and a few young families, is a quiet place.

"I don't think there's been a cop on the street in the six years we've been here," said resident Nancy Grant, a newer resident with three children.

There are only a dozen houses on the short street. It sees more traffic in the summer from people who want to cut through from Mill Road to Ann's Lane to avoid Route 1. Since Tuesday, the street has been lined with unmarked police cruisers and the state police Major Crime Unit van during the investigation of the death of 85-year-old Alice Keyho. Keyho's sister, Helen Garland, found her sister dead Tuesday and called 911.

Many of the residents on the street have lived there for decades, including Garland, an active member of the community in both the Oceanside Grange and Hampton Garden Club. Few neighbors knew Garland's sister other than by sight.

Janis Wilbur, whose family has lived on the corner of Ann's Lane and Philbrook Terrace her whole life, has known Garland for about 35 years. She doesn't remember exactly when Keyho moved in with her sister, but remembers Garland walking over to her house to introduce Keyho.

As she has watched the activity around Garland's house this week, Wilbur said she's felt sad - sad for Garland and Keyho and sad for the other neighbors.

"They're all older people," she said. "I've known these people all my life."

Wilbur said she hadn't seen Keyho outside since last fall and wasn't sure she still lived there.

Grant, who lives three houses down from Garland's house, sometimes saw the 74-year-old Garland working in the yard.

"The grass was always cut, the bushes were trimmed," she said.

Garland also used a snow blower herself to clear her driveway after storms, Wilbur said.

Priscilla Fernald, who has lived on the street for 40 years, said she never saw Keyho, but did see Garland from time to time in the grocery store. She didn't know the sisters that well, but said the police presence is very unusual in the close-knit neighborhood.

"We kind of watch out for each other," she said. "I just want to know what happened."

Peter Vellucci, whose parents moved to the street in 1978, had a similar view of the street. Vellucci was cleaning out their house this week as both of his parents have died. In the times he visited them, he saw a street where everyone knew each other.

"They swapped dinners," Vellucci said. "They would surprise each other with casseroles."

If someone was sick, it wasn't unusual for another neighbor to show up with homemade chicken soup, he said.

"It was always a quiet little street," he said. "I was really struck by the friendliness. They really did care for each other and look out for each other."

Vellucci had never met Garland or Keyho but has kept a curious eye on the activity at the house this week.

"You just never expect something like that to occur in your own neighborhood," he said.