"He stole from me. He stole my husband"
Epping convenience store clerk, 67, fatally stricken as wife comforts him following late-night robbery
EPPING — Norman Blais was working a late shift at the Epping Cumberland Farms on Christmas Eve when a customer asked for four cartons of cigarettes and took off. Shaken up, the 67-year-old Blais called police at 10:18 p.m. and provided a description of the man and getaway vehicle.
Then the Nottingham man called his wife, Denise, who rushed to the store. "I told him, 'I'm here honey, you'll be alright,'" she said. But to his wife's horror, Blais collapsed just after midnight.
Now it was Denise Blais frantically dialing 911. "I tried my best to save him," she said.
Efforts to revive her husband were unsuccessful.
He died of an apparent heart attack, but his wife has asked for an autopsy to confirm the cause and time of his death.
If not for the stress caused by the theft, Denise Blais said she believes her husband might still be alive. In this case, she said the accused thief stole more than just cigarettes.
"He stole from me. He stole my husband," she said.
Using the description provided by Blais and other witnesses, police caught up with the suspected thief in nearby Raymond.
Jeffrey Seymore, 27, of 278 Somerville St., Manchester, was charged with theft by Epping police.
Police said he was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Kelsy Foster, 28, of 150 Willow Road, East Kingston.
Raymond police charged Foster will driving while intoxicated, possession of drugs in a motor vehicle and criminal liability for conduct of another related to the Epping theft.
Raymond police also charged Seymore with receiving stolen property after the four cartons of stolen cigarettes were allegedly found in the vehicle.
While Denise Blais believes the theft was a contributing factor to her husband's death, Epping Capt. Jason Newman said police aren't planning additional charges.
"It's a really sad and unfortunate set of circumstances. We did consult with the Attorney General's Office on the matter to see if there is any further criminal charges that can be explored in light of the death, and it was determined that no further charges will be brought forward," Newman said.
Denise Blais said her husband worked at Cumberland Farms for the past three years and often worked the overnight shift.
She said her husband suffered a heart attack 10 years ago, but has had no heart problems since then. He checked out fine during a physical in November, she said.
Blais was a father of three who enjoyed working at the store. People would often check in on him during those long nights when he worked 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., his wife said.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of our employee. He was more than a member of our workforce, he was a member of the Cumberland Farms' family, and our hearts and thoughts go out to his family, friends and loved ones," said Derek Beckwith, spokesman for Cumberland Farms.
Denise said she hopes that Jeffrey Seymore is required to perform community service if he is convicted of theft.
"I want him to acknowledge that if it wasn't because he did what he did that would never have happened," she said of her husband's death. "I think they should put him to work to do volunteer service for however long. I don't want him to just get a slap on the hand. There are so many people doing that and they know they're just going to get a slap on the hand."