Details Unsealed In Elder's Death

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 8, 2004

HAMPTON - Helen Garland, accused of beating sister Alice Keyho repeatedly before the 85-year-old woman's death, appeared in Hampton District Court Monday during a hearing on a motion filed by Seacoast Newspapers to unseal search warrants in the case against her.

The motion was subsequently granted by Judge Francis Frasier. Garland, who was released last week after paying $10,000 bail, had no comment on why she was there, but described her experience at the Rockingham County Jail as "horrible."

Garland said she's glad to be home and has been avoiding going out in public.

Garland, 74, of Philbrook Terrace, was arrested and charged March 26 with three counts of first-degree assault for allegedly beating her sister, Alice Keyho, 85, before Keyho's death.The documents released Monday reveal that police conducted two different searches on Garland's home. It also reveals more details in Garland's and Keyho's relationship.

Significant new information includes excerpts from an interview between Garland and police in the days following Keyho's death.

According to court documents, Garland admitted to backhanding Keyho in the mouth the day before her sister's death, causing Keyho to bleed.

"I'd say twice, but three or four times at the most ... if I did it," Garland told police.

Garland also admitted to dragging Keyho across the kitchen floor to the stairway, court documents state. However, Garland "said that she never meant to kill her," the document states.

When asked to elaborate further on her alleged abuse toward Keyho, Garland said in court documents, "I don't hit her often. She'd grab hold of my hand so I couldn't hit her again. I would never hit her in the head, it was around her chin."

She also said in the past she "might have kicked her... but lots of times I did that to her," the document states.

The court documents also reveal that police seized several items from Garland's home, including two pieces of blood-stained carpet with Garland's footprints, a pair of pajamas and a shirt worn by Garland, which was stained with blood and stuffed in a hamper.

The first search was conducted the day Keyho's body was found. Police began to suspect that Keyho's death may have been the result of foul play and asked a judge to give them a search warrant.

On March 23, Garland called 911 and told police that her sister had fallen down the stairs to her death.

The affidavit in support of the first search warrant states the following:

Garland told police the last time she saw her sister alive was on March 22 at 9 p.m. Garland said her sister had been disoriented and was saying, "I don't know where I am."

When she found Keyho lying on the floor, she threw water on the woman to wake her up but Keyho did not respond.

Garland stated her sister sometimes had a "spell" and that she threw water on her to bring her out of it.

Police began to suspect Garland after Assistant Deputy Medical Examiner Gino Nigro found numerous bruises on Keyho that Garland could not explain.

Nigro told police the pattern of bruising on Keyho's back was consistent with bruising found on a body that has been dragged some distance on the back.

Nigro also said Keyho's face had two black eyes and her nose was bleeding.

Police also seized a gray hair and paper towels soaked with blood stuffed inside a trash can in the porch area.

On March 26, police obtained another search warrant for Garland's home after they spoke with her and she began to admit to abusing Keyho.

The affidavit in support for the second search warrant states the following:

Police said Garland admitted abusing Keyho when faced with the results from Keyho's autopsy.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval, who conducted the autopsy, said there were contusions and abrasions on both sides of her face.

Police asked Duval whether the abrasions could be consistent with impressions made by rings and said she would have to see the rings to make a determination. The rings were subsequently taken from the home.

Police said they needed a second search warrant to seize the rings and follow up on comments made by Garland in a interview.

According to court documents, Keyho had 22 broken ribs, two black eyes, bruising all over her face and chest, brain hemorrhaging and defensive wounds.

It was in the affidavit for the second warrant that the interview with Garland describing her alleged abuse of her sister was detailed.

Police seized several items from the second search, including 17 rings and 11 photographs of Garland's hands.

Garland was arraigned on the first degree assault charges in Hampton District Court, where her case remains. She has not been indicted by a grand jury on any charges. Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Dunn, in court for the hearing Monday, said the case remains under investigation.

Also attending the hearing Monday were Garland's lawyer, public defender Dorothy Graham, and attorney Daniel Hoefle, representing Seacoast Newpapers.