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Autopsy concludes wife and father found in Dover man's condo had been strangled by hand

Union Leader Correspondent

August 24. 2018 1:05PM
Francis Colella, right, posted a photo of himself and his son, Jeramie, on Facebook Friday enjoying a meal in Portsmouth. Police believe Jeramie Colella killed his father and wife at his condo in Dover. Their bodies were discovered Monday morning. (Facebook photo)

Joanna Colella was known by dog owners in her neighborhood for having a big dog. This Facebook profile photo of her was uploaded on Feb. 6, 2013.

DOVER — The state’s chief medical examiner has determined the two people killed in Dover this week died of manual strangulation.

Joanna Colella, 43, and Francis Colella, 69, were murdered sometime Sunday or early Monday morning in a condominium at 18 Tideview Drive. Police discovered their bodies around 8 a.m. Monday during a welfare check.

Jeramie Colella, 44, a coppersmith who created custom pieces for clients, was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He waived his right to arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday.

Colella is being held without bail at Strafford County jail pending indictment.

On Thursday, Assistant Attorney General John Kennedy could not comment about whether Jeramie Colella restrained his wife and father before choking them to death.

Kennedy said they are still looking for information about what happened at the condominium unit between noon Sunday and the time the victims were discovered.

Kennedy said earlier this week the charges against Colella may be upgraded to first-degree murder.

“First-degree requires that he purposely caused it with some level of premeditation… As maybe you have seen in many other cases, these initial charges get filed and then we do indictments down the road and certainly those charges can be changed, but it all just depends on the investigation as it goes forward,” Kennedy said Tuesday.

Motive for the killings is also yet to be determined.

“That’s certainly something that is part of our investigation — determining motive. It’s early in the case right now and I’m not ready to comment on that,” Kennedy said.

Colella does not have a criminal history in New Hampshire, but was arrested in Winslow, Maine, on May 31 for operating under the influence and criminal speeding. He was allegedly driving 84 mph in a 25 mph zone and struck a curb.

Kennedy would not comment earlier this week if investigators believe Colella was intoxicated at the time of the murders.

Dover police are still searching for evidence in this case. Anyone with information can contact Detective Sgt. Mark Nadeau at 742-4646 or email

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