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Manchester man arrested in wife's murder at Mammoth Road duplex

MANCHESTER— A man described by neighbors as the loving, patient father of a young boy was arrested Wednesday and charged with the stabbing death of his wife.

John Hogarty, 53, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Michelle Hogarty, homicide prosecutors announced early Wednesday night.

The homicide took place at Hogarty's home at 316 Mammoth Road, Unit 1, authorities said.

According to neighbor Jeffrey Luebkert, about eight or nine police officers arrived about 5 a.m. with guns drawn.

They walked up the front steps yelling "put your hands up."

The charge followed hours of anticipation as police secured the scene and spent the day doing a crime-scene investigation.

"It just breaks my heart," said Suzanne Luebkert. She said she saw police lead her neighbor, the father of a 6-year-old boy, out of the home in handcuffs between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

At his arraignment Thursday morning in 9th Circuit Court, Manchester District Division, Hogarty said little except to answer yes to Judge Gregory Michael's questions about paperwork.

Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said Hogarty worked as a mechanic for a Subaru dealership in Milford, and Michelle Hogarty worked part-time at Hannaford supermarket on Hanover Street in Manchester. Workers at the store today said she was a cashier who worked one day a week but hasn't worked there in awhile.

Defense attorney John Newman asked at today's hearing that documents in the case be unsealed so he could prepare for a probable cause hearing scheduled for May 14, but Morrell objected, saying investigators needed to protect the integrity of the case. Judge Michael took the matter under advisement.

The complaint alleged that Hogarty stabbed his wife sometime between April 30 and May 1.

In court today, family members attending the hearing refused to comment to a reporter.

Morrell would not say when police took Hogarty into custody.

Nor would she answer questions about whether a child was in the house overnight Tuesday, or the whereabouts of the child after the killing.

"I don't want to comment on his status at all," she said.

Morrell returned to the home with police from the critical incident response unit about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, where the blue, two-unit home remained cordoned off with yellow police tape.

Just inside the tape, someone left two bouquets of flowers in the grass in front of the home where Jeff Leubkert said he often saw John Hogarty playing with his son.

"I saw nothing that would lead me to believe he had any anger issues," Jeff Leubkert said. "He seemed to be a good father."

Luebkert said police removed the boy shortly after taking his father away. The boy appeared bewildered but was uninjured, she said.

Throughout the day, Manchester police stood outside the house, which was sealed off by crime scene tape.

"This will be an active investigation for quite a period of time," Morrell said.

In a statement issued early Wednesday night, authorities said police responded to a 911 call for service at the home at 4:54 a.m. Wednesday. Hogarty was officially charged with the crime Wednesday afternoon, Morrell said.

Luebkert said her neighbor played with his son outside every day. She hadn't seen the mother recently, but when the child was younger the mother sat on the steps and watched him play, Luebkert said.

Hogarty was always good with the little boy, she said.

"He had the patience of a saint. He is just a phenomenal father, always loving. No matter which way you look at it, it's a tragedy. God bless that little boy," she said.

Hogarty is being held without bail at the Valley Street Jail.

The state Medical Examiner's Office was expected to perform an autopsy Thursday morning.

Anyone with information about the crime should contact Manchester police detectives, authorities said.

New Hampshire Union Leader reporters Mark Hayward and Tim Buckland contributed to this report.

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