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Man faces second-degree murder charges in death of Manchester toddler

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

December 13. 2017 4:14PM
Jacob Pelletier, 2, died as the result of blunt force trauma to his abdomen, according to New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Jennie Duval. (GoFundMe.com)



MARK HEATH

MANCHESTER — A 32-year-old man was charged Wednesday night with second-degree murder in the death of a 2-year-old boy who shared his Howe Street address.


Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald and Manchester Police Chief Enoch F. Willard said Mark Heath, 32, of 551 Howe St., second floor, faces two counts of second-degree murder.


He is to be arraigned this afternoon at 1 in Hillsborough County Superior Court.


Jacob Pelletier's death was ruled a homicide Wednesday after an autopsy determined the boy died of "blunt force trauma to the abdomen."


MacDonald and Willard said the child was found unconscious in his family's apartment at 551 Howe St. about 11:30 a.m. Monday. The boy was transported to Elliot Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.


One charge against Heath alleges that he acted knowingly and one charge alleges that he acted recklessly. Both charges allege that Heath caused Jacob Pelletier's death by inflicting blunt force trauma to his abdomen.


Eric Landry, who lives in the first-floor apartment at 551 Howe St., said he was "horrified" by the autopsy results.


"Who does that to a kid, a 2-year-old?" said Landry. "If you're angry or frustrated, take it out on yourself, not a kid. Trauma to the stomach? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this, to be honest."


Landry and his ex-wife share custody of their three children, whom he said would often play outside with the two young children from the third-floor apartment — Jacob Pelletier and an unidentified 4-year-old.


"I just saw him the night before this happened," said Landry. "I came home, saw him on the way in, said ‘Hey little buddy, how's it going?' and then he's gone. I feel terrible for the family. I feel terrible for the boy, his life cut short like this."


Landry said he has not had much contact with the parents since Jacob's death, aside from a note on Facebook.


"I offered to help any way I can, whatever they need," said Landry. "I haven't heard back."

2012 arrest


In February 2012, Manchester police said Heath refused to pull over for a traffic stop, then took off in his 2002 Mercury Cougar and hit a rut at School Street and Third Street. The airbags deployed, but police said Heath kept going until Fourth Street, then drove onto the sidewalk and hit a sign post. Police said he got out of the car and took off on foot.


Heath was eventually tracked down and charged with felony reckless conduct. At his arraignment, a prosecutor told the judge that Heath had convictions involving ID fraud, drugs and domestic-related criminal threatening, as well as four electronic bench warrants.

GoFundMe page set up

A relative has set up a GoFundMe site to raise $10,000 to offset funeral expenses for Jacob. Casey Nelan of Londonderry, who said Jacob is her second cousin, set up the site to help Pelletier's family.

"I would like to help out with trying to get enough money to cover funeral costs as they are struggling with money," Nelan writes on the site.

Cheryl Randall, a Florida resident, said the deceased toddler was her daughter's nephew.

"Sweet Jacob, your aunt Marissa loved u so much," Randall wrote in a post on the GoFundMe.com page. "We are so heartbroken that this happened. We will always love you and miss you forever."

The fundraising site can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/help-for-funeral-costs-of-2-yr-old


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