MANCHESTER — Diane Vattes wants answers to go along with the pictures of her dead son spread around her West Side home.
Jason Upton, 34, was found floating in the Merrimack River on Aug. 2, 2009. The coroner put the date of death as July 26, making Friday the fourth anniversary of his death and leaving his mother to wonder whether Upton hit his head on a rock or someone killed him.
“I’m only left with my own mind to run wild,” she said through tears during an interview Wednesday.
Last week, Vattes and her husband, Carl, hung flyers along Allenstown’s Main Street. Concord Crimeline is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction “in the untimely death of Jason Upton,” according to the flyer.
“If this was your son or brother you too, would want answers,” read the flyer.
Diane Vattes said she would like to receive an update from police on where the case stands.
“What I would want is if someone killed my son to be arrested, but I’m not sure if that’s what happened,” she said.
Allenstown police detective George Baker said “there has been no new information that has been available since his death four years ago.” He referred questions to the state police, who have taken the primary lead in the case.
“We don’t have any answers; it’s frustrating,” Baker said. “It’s been all investigated pretty fully.”
Carl Vattes said his wife would like to know more to find a little peace.
“Whether they arrest somebody or not is another story,” Carl Vattes said. “She just wants answers as to what happened. It would put her to rest a little bit.”
Diane Vattes said police told her that drugs and alcohol were found in her son’s system, but he didn’t have water in his lungs, suggesting Upton didn’t drown. Baker declined to comment.
“Jason was a good swimmer, an excellent swimmer, so I know he didn’t drown,” she said. Police also told her that “everything in the apartment was destroyed,” including a long dresser she had given her son that she had owned for 35 years.
Diane Vattes said her son was bipolar, but she didn’t know if he was taking medication.
She last saw her son, who wore long hair and loved listening to the band KISS, on July 25, 2009.
“He had shaved his goatee and head bald; that was out of character,” she said. “He said, ‘Just time for a change,’ but apparently there was something going on that I knew nothing about.”
Life hasn’t been the same since her son’s death. A simple drive can make her feel sad.
“She goes by a river or a brook, she can’t look at it because it brings back memories,” Carl Vattes said.Carl Vattes noted that some unsolved cases take decades to solve, noting the news this week that police think they solved a homicide case from 1991 involving the murder of a Plymouth State University official.
“I don’t want to wait 22 years,” Diane Vattes said.