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On the run, Manchester double-murder suspect won trust of 2 Fla. families

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

June 10. 2015 9:34PM

MATTHEW DION 

Polite. Clean-cut. Personable.

Those are the qualities that a Florida woman used to describe Matthew Dion, the Manchester murder suspect who was apprehended last week in Florida after being on the run for nearly 15 months.

But after ingratiating himself into the trust of her family, the man they knew as Cameron Rowell reportedly stole $300, the family car and a gun that Jacqueline Kay Smith had hidden in her closet. A few days after Smith reported the car theft, police told her who Rowell really was.

“I didn’t see that in him at all,” Smith said in a telephone interview Wednesday from her St. Petersburg home. “When the detective told me, I couldn’t believe it. I just started crying.”

Smith was listed in paperwork filed by the Clay County Sheriff Office in connection with Dion’s arrest outside Jacksonville.

The Smiths were the first of two known families to unwittingly assist Dion in the months that he evaded a manhunt overseen by New Hampshire authorities and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Both times, Dion befriended families headed by a single mother with a grown adult child. He told both his name was Cameron.

He readily offered to do errands.

Last week, the New Hampshire Union Leader detailed Dion’s stay with the family of Kim Grieves in Jacksonville. Smith’s ordeal was different in other ways.

She said the family met Dion sometime in the spring of 2014. That was just a couple of months after Dion allegedly strangled his parents — Robert and Connie Dion — in their Manchester home and later set the home on fire.

Smith said her 20-year-old son and his girlfriend met Dion at a taco stand. He was sleeping in his car, and he asked if he could park the vehicle on the lawn of their middle-class home. Occasionally, the Smiths let him sleep on their couch.

Dion told them his marriage with a woman named Pam had broken up. He missed his children and showed them a photo of a baby boy. He drove a 2009 Nissan Altima; it had a Georgia registration plate.

Smith said she believed Dion had a job working in computers. He would leave and return, sometimes with money. He played classical music from memory on the Smith family piano.

And he drove Smith, who had recently suffered a seizure, to doctor appointments and other errands.

“He was polite, very clean-cut, personable, quiet. He never raised his voice or anything like that. He never gave us a clue,” Smith said.

Then on Sept. 8, Smith told Dion that $300 was missing from her bank account. When she went into her bedroom to call the bank, he grabbed the keys to her car — a 2013 Hyundai Elantra — and took off.

“He knew he had to do something because I was going to talk to the bank,” Smith said. She said Dion had used her debit card to steal the money.

Within an hour, Smith realized that Cameron wasn’t coming back, and she notified authorities.

She eventually determined that her .38-caliber handgun was missing. And when police traced the Nissan that Dion had left behind, they realized who he was.

Authorities then traced Dion to Atlanta, where he mailed a letter to the Marshals Service claiming he was suicidal. Sometime in the fall, likely October, he met the Grieves and started a longer relationship that ended with his apprehension.

When authorities arrested Dion outside Jacksonville last week, they recovered Smith’s stolen car and gun, she said. But that gives little comfort.

“I really just want to forget,” Smith said, “that I ever met him.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Dion remained an inmate at the Clay County Jail in Florida, where he was held without bail as a fugitive from justice.

He is scheduled to appear via video before a Manchester judge on Friday morning, a New Hampshire court official said.

Dion faces two charges of second-degree murder and single charges of arson and possession of child pornography.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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