Click The Photo for the latest news - 10/12/09
BRENTWOOD, N.H. -- A New Hampshire judge on Friday denied bail for a woman accused of murdering a Massachusetts man and burning his body on her horse farm.
Sheila LaBarre of Epping has been charged with first-degree murder for the death of Kenneth Countie, formerly of Wilmington, Mass.
Her lawyer told a judge she should be allowed to post bail since she has not been indicted and has been in jail more than 100 days.
Assistant Attorney General Peter Odom reminded the court that LaBarre had told authorities when they asked where Countie was that he was "in that bag" -- referring to a Wal-Mart bag near a burn pile on the farm.
Odom had asked that bail be set at $1 million if it were set. He said that LaBarre hasn't been indicted because investigators are still piecing together the evidence. He said that the state believes LaBarre burned Countie's body, and the forensic investigation of bones found in burn pits on LaBarre's property is taking time.
"Because of the defendant's actions, the forensic evidence at the scene was degraded to such a point that we need extra time," Odom said.
EPPING New Hampshire -
Officials with the state's major crime and homicide units are investigating the disappearance of a 24-year-old Massachusetts man who recently moved to Epping.
Authorities say Kenneth Countie, formerly of Wilmington, Mass., was last seen March 17 at an unnamed local business. Family members reported him missing after going several days without hearing from him, Assistant Attorney General Peter Odom said.
"We're conducting an investigation into a missing person," Odom said. "Sometimes these things turn into homicides; often they don't."
Odom, who works for the Office of the Attorney General's homicide unit, said he was not willing to make any presumptions about whether Countie may be dead or alive.
"While we do have a concern, it would be premature to talk about foul play," Odom said.
Authorities at the police station were overheard saying they had a female suspect Saturday night but had to let her go because of a lack of evidence. The same authorities said they had obtained search warrants and were hoping to check the suspect for cuts on her body. Police went to search for her last night.
Odom said he would not discuss any such details.
Countie's family said last night they did not want to comment for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.
"We're just hoping and praying," said his father, Kenneth Countie of Tewksbury, Mass.
"We don't know anything yet," he said. "It's an ongoing investigation."
Countie had been living in Epping for three to four weeks before disappearing, according to Odom. Officials said Countie was living with an unidentified person at 70 Red Oak Hill Lane, located on the northern side of town.
State police blocked drivers from passing down that road yesterday, saying the entire road is considered a crime scene.
Though he was last seen March 17, investigators suspect Countie was in the area for several days after that, Odom said. Authorities have no reliable information pointing to his whereabouts after that date, according to Odom.
Lt. Russell Conte, the state police's major crime unit commander, said his department has been talking to Countie's friends and family in hopes of establishing a timeline leading to his disappearance.
Two neighbors said the investigation involved the property of a woman they identified as Sheila LaBarre. They said she and a young man live at the end of a dirt road off Red Oak Hill Road.
Authorities have been up and down the street investigating for the past two days, said the neighbors, who did not know the man.
"She's been living there a long time and she has had quite a few menfolk living with her," said Francis Allen, who has lived on Red Oak Hill Road for more than 60 years.
A lot of residents have had run-ins with LaBarre, said Beth Harvey, another neighbor. "Hopefully, the kid just ran away from here and is all right."
Harvey said LaBarre is in her 40s.
The 115-acre property was the home of the late Wilfred J. LaBarre, a local chiropractor, said Daniel Harvey, who sold the land to him years ago.
Wilfred LaBarre died Dec. 2, 2000, at his home at 70 Red Oak Hill Lane, according to a Portsmouth Herald obituary. He was 74.
Sheila LaBarre was his common-law wife, said Daniel Harvey, who lives at the other side of Red Oak Hill.
"You haven't lived until you've met Sheila," he said.
Daniel Harvey said he tried to get information from police, but was rebuffed.
"It's like as if there's a murder going on," he said. "It's like a big crime scene."
Selectman Tom Gauthier said word of the investigation had not yet made its way around Epping last evening. He said it's the first such incident he knows of in town.
"The police are doing a good job at this point," said Gauthier, who was briefed by Epping Police Chief Greg Dodge. "They've got a good handle on it."
Authorities have asked anyone with information about the case to call the state police at 271-3636.