Dions identified as homicide victims in fatal fire; search continues for their son
By PAT GROSSMITH New Hampshire Union Leader
Robert Dion, 71, and his wife Constance, 67, the owners of the Mooresville Road home destroyed in an explosion and fire on Monday, have been identified as the individuals found dead at the fire scene. Their deaths have been ruled homicides. (Facebook)
MANCHESTER — Authorities this morning identified Robert and Constance Dion of 210 Mooresville Road as the victims of Monday's suspicious fire at their home as they continue to search for a "person of interest" — the homeowners' son.
The New Hampshire Attorney General and Manchester police, in a news release issued Thursday morning, said the deputy chief medical examiner concluded from the autopsies that the deaths of Robert Dion, 71, and Constance Dion, 67, were homicides. Investigators, however, did not say how the couple died.
"Right at this point in time we are not releasing the cause of death because we need to protect necessary investigative information," said senior assistant attorney general Janice Rundles. She said she couldn't say when the cause of death would be released but surmised it would be when investigators no longer needed to keep it shielded.
She would not say if investigators determined when the couple died.
"We're definitely looking at all information about when the victims were last seen," Rundles said. Their bodies were discovered Monday inside their fire-damaged home.
Police continue to search for their son, Matthew Dion, 38, who lived with them and who investigators are calling a "person of interest."
Fire and police investigators were still on the scene Thursday morning.
Attorney James A. Normand of Normand & Associates, who represents Roger Mitchell, a nephew of the Dions and the temporary administrator of their estates, issued a statement from the family in which they said they were saddened the Dions' deaths were confirmed and it is now a homicide investigation.
They described the Dions as "being delightful, happy individuals who rejoiced in their friendship with others." Mr. Dion was an avid postage stamp collector, a hobby he enjoyed from back in his youth, and retired as postmaster of the North Salem Post Office. For many years, he bowled in a Thursday night coed bowling league.
Mrs. Dion was an avid quilter and seamstress, often called on by family to help with various hem alterations and clothing mends.
In the prepared statement, the family said it understood police are seeking the Dion's son for questioning, but said they pass no judgement and hope Matthew Dion will speak with investigators in the near future.
They also encouraged friends and acquaintances of the Dions to call Normand or police with any information they may have regarding the Dions' activities in recent weeks, regardless of whether or not it seems important at the present time.
The police investigation into the fire and the homicides is ongoing.
Janice K. Rundles, senior assistant attorney general, said autopsies of the victims were completed Wednesday.
"The autopsies took a bit longer than expected," she said.
Police have yet to find Matthew Dion, who lived at the 210 Mooresville Road home with his parents. Investigators on Wednesday released additional photographs of Dion, who they said is believed to be using a white 2009 Nissan Altima with New Hampshire registration 3410587.
Family member Mike Mitchell said the family is frustrated by the entire situation.
"It's nerve-wracking," he said.
Mitchell, the Dions' nephew, said Wednesday night that authorities had not provided the family any new information, but that the family believed officials are being thorough with a complicated situation.
"I'd rather have them do their jobs and not push them or bug them," he said. "We're all frustrated, but what are you going to do?"
Mitchell said no family member has been contacted by Matthew Dion.
"It's really weird," he said. "If he didn't have anything to do with it, then I don't know why he wouldn't come forward. I don't understand it. I just don't understand it."
The retired couple have been described as loving and outgoing. They opened their home to family when they needed a place to stay. Retired and in relatively good health, they pursued their interests — travel, stamp collecting and quilting, friends said.
"They were kind people," Mitchell said. "They helped me out quite a bit when I was going through some trouble."
Trucks from the New Hampsire State Police Major Crimes Unit and the state Fire Marshal's Office remained at the house Wednesday night, along with three police cars.
"It's a complicated scene because of the fire combined with the two bodies found there," Rundles said.
Kevin McAllister, pastor of the neighboring Manchester Church of God, opened the church's doors to provide police and emergency responders with restroom facilities and a place to warm up. He said he saw investigators wearing white hazardous materials suits going in and out of the home throughout Wednesday.
"They were carrying a lot of stuff out of the building," he said.
McAllister, who was among those who called 911 to report Monday's fire, said his wife saw a car at the home, then noticed a few minutes later that it had left. Shortly after that, he said, the fire broke out. He said he didn't know until later that the home had been rocked by an explosion.
"I'm shocked there was an explosion," he said. "I never saw it and never felt it."
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Matthew Dion or the described vehicle is urged to call 911, or Manchester police at (603) 668-8711.
Union Leader reporter Pat Grossmith contributed to this report.