June 19. 2013 8:40PM

Nashua neighborhood shaken by elderly couple's murder

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA — A city neighborhood is stunned and frightened after authorities announced Wednesday that an elderly couple found dead inside their home on Monday were stabbed to death.

No arrests have been made in connection with the deaths of William and Eleanor Grant, which have been declared homicides by the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.

Although the yellow crime tape has been removed from the outside of their home at 37 Newbury St., a police car still canvassed the area on Wednesday while a police officer was spotted visiting local homes nearby.

The modest neighborhood filled with small homes and manicured lawns is now filled with fearful residents who are unsure of their safety.

"I was shocked. Everyone just wants answers," said Felicia Sullivan, who resides next door at 41 Newbury St. "Everyone wants to know what happened. There are a lot of elderly people in this neighborhood who are frightened."

Police have remained tight-lipped about the investigation, refusing to answer questions about what type of weapon may have been used, whether there was forced entry into the home or whether any items were stolen from the residence.

"I have no comment. It is an active, ongoing investigation," Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said on Wednesday.

Officials have said that the public is not in danger.

William Grant, 83, and Eleanor Grant, 78, had lived in the small Newbury Street residence for more than 40 years, according to neighbors, who described the couple as kind and generous.

The couple had been married for more than 50 years, and recently celebrated a wedding anniversary, according to Sullivan, who said the elder Grant frequently walked their dog Lily, a Shi Tzu, around the neighborhood.

Sullivan said she last spotted William Grant late Sunday night walking the dog with a flashlight, which was a common occurrence.

"What scares me is that he had a set routine of walking the dog, and someone may have taken advantage of that," said Sullivan, adding the couple often left their side door unlocked and open, except at night.

She remembers hearing a car crash into a row of garbage cans at some point Sunday night, saying she is unsure whether that was related to the criminal activity next door.

On Monday, Sullivan said she found it odd that the Grant's main door was still closed. Later that day, the couple was found dead by a visiting nurse who cared for Eleanor Grant, who suffered from a terminal illness, had diabetes and required insulin.

A neighbor who resides at 34 Newbury St. said Wednesday after learning about the homicides that she intends to install an alarm system. Refusing to provide her name, the neighbor said police obviously know more than they are willing to release.

Still, she said it is reassuring that authorities have not announced any information about a possible home invasion, which she said would be more frightening. This, she said, doesn't seem to be a random incident.

"I hate to speculate on anything," said Roland Blanchette, who lives across the street from the Grant residence. "It is unsettling."

Blanchette described William Grant as a pleasant person, and could not believe the nice couple would be the target of such a violent attack.

"I have no idea what happened," added Blanchette.

The list of unanswered questions is causing alarm in the neighborhood, according to Sullivan, who acknowledges her own apartment complex — which abuts the Grant household — currently has some undisclosed issues that it is trying to address.

A surveillance camera had been previously installed at the front of her three-story apartment building that houses six units. However, she said the camera had been temporarily dismantled and was not operating this past weekend.

Since then, she said, the camera has been placed back up, and a second camera also has been installed in the rear. She would not elaborate on why the camera was initially mounted, for fear of retribution or interference in a police investigation.

According to Sullivan, William Grant was a carpenter and often helped with various handyman tasks in the neighborhood. He would sometimes take his wife to a local shop for pastries, she added.

On Wednesday, Hinckley refused to comment on whether police are close to making any arrests in the case, and also refused to comment on whether a search of the neighborhood resulted in anything helpful to the investigation.

In light of the double homicide, Hinckley told the New Hampshire Union Leader that it is only prudent for people to exercise care, "but there is no specific threat to the public at large." He was not immediately available to elaborate on that statement Wednesday evening.

Although Police Chief John Seusing could not speak about the specifics of the investigation, he did say the Nashua Police Department has a lot of manpower working on the case, and has added extra patrols to the Newbury Street area.

"We completely understand why folks in that neighborhood would feel uneasy, but we are doing everything possible to keep them safe. We don't have any concern, at this point, that we would have to send out a special alert to the public," he said.

Still, he stressed that citizens need to pay attention to their surroundings and report anything suspicious or uncomfortable. Acknowledging that his comments may not make residents feel more secure about their safety, Seusing said the additional police presence and reassurance that the case is being thoroughly investigated should help alleviate some worries.

"We understand their concerns and fears," he added.

The last double homicide in Nashua took place in 1988 when two city women, Brenda Warner and Charlene Ranstrom, were murdered allegedly at the hands of two men who were arrested more than a year ago for the crimes. Those men, Anthony Barnaby and David Caplin, are currently in the process of being extradited from Canada to New Hampshire.