Updated: Epping man charged with first-degree murder of ex-wife
As Amanda “Amy” Warf was being laid to rest Wednesday, her ex-husband — who earlier in the week was planning to attend her funeral — appeared before a judge.
A courtroom in Seabrook wasn’t where Aaron Desjardins expected to be when he stood outside his Epping house Sunday night and spoke freely about how someone else had killed his former wife of seven years and the mother of his 11-month-old son, William.
Desjardins, 36, told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he was innocent, but he was quiet and dodged questions from reporters who swarmed him as he was escorted into the 10th Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon for his arraignment on a first-degree murder charge.
Prosecutors allege he slit Warf’s throat, severing her carotid artery. Her body was discovered inside the former City Concrete building on Hampton Road in Exeter when firefighters responded to a 911 call for a fire inside the vacant building around 7 a.m. on March 7.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said she couldn’t comment on the possibility of additional arrests in connection with the murder or the fire, which the state Fire Marshal’s Office determined was intentionally set.
“The investigation is ongoing and that’s always a possibility and we’re always looking into that,” she said.
At the arraignment, Judge Mark Weaver ordered that Desjardins have no contact with his current wife, Sarah Desjardins, his sister, and Warf’s mother, Nancy Warf.
“Currently we want to prevent any contact with anyone who may be a potential witness in this case while we continue to investigate. It’s to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Morrell said.
Held without bail
Desjardins was ordered held without bail at the Rockingham County jail after he was arrested at gunpoint Tuesday afternoon near his home as he was preparing to head off to the wake for his ex-wife.
In his interview with the Union Leader before his arrest, Desjardins claimed he was at home with his new wife, his son, and his sister at the time of the killing.
It’s not clear whether Warf, 36, was murdered at the concrete plant or killed elsewhere and brought to the building before the fire was set.
“Right now I can only tell you that her body was discovered in the midst of the fire,” Morrell said.
Desjardins is due back in court for a probable cause hearing on March 22.
In recent months, Desjardins and Warf, who was living with a boyfriend in Hampton, had been working through child custody issues and finalizing a parenting plan.
They also had a dispute over health insurance coverage for Desjardins, who said he has multiple sclerosis.
As part of an agreement when they divorced in February 2012, Desjardins’ health insurance was supposed to be covered through Warf’s employer, Exeter Hospital, where she worked in billing in an office near the concrete plant.
Desjardins had recently sought $5,500 in reimbursement from Warf for his health insurance costs, but because he remarried in April 2012 and the hospital was self-insured, her obligation to continue his coverage ended, according to court documents.
Desjardins has said he was a chef for many years and at one point indicated in court papers that he worked at Steve’s Diner in Exeter.
Employees at the diner said they couldn’t comment. One of the proposed parenting plans filed in court said Steve’s Diner was a location where child exchanges could take place.
Mourners filled the Remick & Gendron Funeral Home in Hampton for an hour-long funeral service for Warf Wednesday morning.
Grief-stricken family members, friends, and coworkers from Exeter Hospital wiped tears and consoled one another as they looked over a collage of photographs showing a smiling Warf with friends, family, and her son, William, who celebrates his first birthday next month.
One of the most touching moments of the service came when Warf’s brother, Joseph Warf of Portsmouth, spoke directly to William and asked mourners to sing “You Are My Sunshine.”
“You didn’t get to know Amy for very long, but I promise you that you are going to get to know her very well,” he said.
He also reflected on his sister’s happy-go-lucky personality and how much she loved dressing up for Halloween and “wanted to be a mom more than anything.”
He spoke of her many talents, including singing, dancing and acting.
“Sometimes in life we’re lucky enough to meet someone who is truly exceptional and a person who could make you feel good just by being around them. Someone whose smile is so genuine that when you see it, it makes you happy no matter how you’re feeling. I was lucky enough to meet one of these rare people,” he said.