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Attorney General's office, police investigating untimely death in Salem

By RYAN LESSARD
Union Leader Correspondent

August 15. 2018 6:20PM
Police investigate the untimely death of a woman at a home at 79 Brookfield St. in Salem on Wednesday evening. (RYAN LESSARD/CORRESPONDENT)



SALEM — The Attorney General’s office and state and local police are investigating the untimely death of a woman on Brookdale Road in Salem.


Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald said the investigation is being conducted by his office in conjunction with the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit and the Salem Police Department.

A neighbor identified the woman as Florence Cotter, estimated by neighbors to be in her 80s. The woman was found dead by police in a home at 79 Brookdale Road around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Her adult son, Gary Cotter, was removed from the home through a hole under a window created by first responders.

Police Capt. Joel Dolan said a pizza delivery man called police requesting a welfare check after he was asked by Gary Cotter to slide the pizza box through a window. Dolan said the delivery man was concerned because Cotter could be seen inside the home lying on the floor.

The Cotters’ next-door neighbor, Pam Avallone, said her 18-year-old daughter was home when police arrived about 3 p.m. and witnessed first responders using a megaphone for close to two hours, trying to get the son to exit the house. 

He was ultimately removed through a hole in the wall beneath a window.

“They had a really hard time getting him out,” Avallone said.

Police investigators work outside the home where the body of an elderly woman was found Wednesday. First responders had to cut the hole under the window inthe background to get the woman's son out of the house. (RYAN LESSARD/CORRESPONDENT)

Avallone said she has not seen Florence Cotter for 1 1/2 to two years. Neighbors had long worried about her, and called in a wellness check last spring.

“For the past two years, we’ve been trying to reach out to them,” Avallone said.

She said her family was close with Florence and that she was like a grandmother to her 18-year-old daughter. 

“We were really close,” Avallone said. “We were there all the time.”

Neighbor Joe Bolis, 80, said he has been delivering groceries through the window for Gary for at least a year. He said Gary had an infection on his legs.

“He’s been sick for a while,” Bolis said.

Bolis would also deliver mail and mow the lawn for the Cotters. 

He said he hasn’t seen Florence for over one year. He believes she was 87 or 88 years old and that she may have suffered from Alzheimer’s.

On Wednesday, a strong odor of rot and mold could be detected near the home.

An online database lists the owners of 79 Brookdale Road as Florence and Francis Cotter. The home was purchased in 1961, and is currently assessed at $235,600.

The State Police Major Crime Unit truck arrived on Brookdale Road just after at 7 p.m. Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley is in charge of the investigation.


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