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Death of Derry father and son, 6, ruled a murder-suicide; previously lost young son to drowning

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 13. 2018 3:32PM
Mourners place flowers at the scene where a father and son were found dead on Kendall Pond Road in Derry. (DAVID LANE)

DERRY — A local father and his 6-year-old son discovered Monday afternoon in their home died of carbon monoxide poisoning and the deaths have been ruled a murder-suicide, authorities announced Tuesday afternoon.

Matt Edmunds, 39, and his son, Preston Connor Edmunds, were found in a bedroom in their locked mobile home at the Kendall Pond Community mobile home park.

The room had been sealed from the inside with duct tape and a blanket. Inside were two charcoal grills, each with burnt charcoal and ash. A sign on the living room ceiling fan read that police "will find me and my son" in the bedroom and to be aware of "dangerous carbon monoxide levels."

Chief Medical Examiner Jennie V. Duval performed autopsies Tuesday and determined that both father and son died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Authorities say the investigation will continue.

At 6 years old, Preston was the same age as Connor Edmunds, Matt Edmund’s son who died in March 2009 when he fell through the ice of a backyard swimming pool. His father launched a campaign to rewrite state law. The proposed “Connor’s Law” would have required fences around pools. It eventually died after municipal code officials raised concerns about the bill.

The murder-suicide follows a divorce case that included a dismissed restraining order, accusations of child abuse and bad parenting, and financial problems. Edmunds filed for bankruptcy protection last year, telling the court he was the sole provider for his son and could not keep up with bills.

Just five months ago, Edmunds was awarded custody of his son. They lived in an upscale mobile home park that featured single and double wide homes. Close to the center of town, the park is well kept and late model cars were parked in most driveways on Tuesday.

People stopped to place roses and a Teddy bear outside the Edmunds home.

"Little Preston, he was so cute and such a good little boy," said James Noble, who lives just across the street.

Noble said the boy would run up to him for a hug.

"It’s sad, very sad," Noble said.

Edmund's car remained parked in the driveway of his mobile home. The small Chevy sedan has the vanity plate "+Connor."

Noble said Edmunds told him about the death of his son Connor Edmunds shortly after they met. They last spoke several days ago after Noble noticed that Edmunds car had not moved in several days.

"He said Preston had an operation. That’s all he said," said Noble.

Edmunds was an auto mechanic but had recently taken a job in a relative’s machine shop, according to Noble. Divorce records say he was employed at Cobra Precision Machine in Hooksett.

The Edmunds marriage fell apart last year, according to court records. In April, Carin Edmunds filed a restraining order claiming Matt tried to alienate Preston from her and that she “was walking on eggshells and in fear.”

"Matt is always threatening to kick me out of the house and cause me to be homeless. He's always putting me down, saying I don’t pay for anything and it’s not my house."

The petition was dismissed a month later, and Matt Edmunds filed for divorce. He typed a 9-page, single-spaced letter detailing his case. He said state Division of Children, Youth and Families workers were called to his house but never found any issues.

Both parents questioned whether Preston had been sexually abused, but neither ever accused the other of doing so. DCYF investigations went nowhere, and the estranged couple filed papers in the divorce case seeking to terminate DCYF's status as a party in their case.

Matt Edmunds said Preston had some physical problems and learning problems and had been receiving services from Easter Seals since the age of 3. He had recently improved, however, and vision problems – which necessitated glasses and an occasional eye patch – seemed to be the most significant problem.

Edmunds wrote in court documents that he was going through a bankruptcy and received no financial support from Carin. In September, they both signed a divorce decree and parenting plan that give Matt custody of Preston, with Carin seeing him every other weekend and during school vacations.

Public Safety Derry

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