MALDEN — About a month ago, Malden police arrested Ryan S. Power on domestic violence charges after the mother of his two children told officers he pushed her to the ground in the Lebanon Street residence where they lived.
On Wednesday, shortly before 10 a.m., police responded once again to Lebanon Street, this time arriving to find Leah Penny, 31, lying on the floor “unresponsive” near the bottom of a staircase in the home. She had a dog leash wrapped around her neck and was lying face up, authorities said.
She was later pronounced dead.
According to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office, the couple’s two children were on the second floor, unharmed.
On Thursday, Power appeared in Malden District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed Penny; he was ordered held without bail. His head hung and his eyes were cast downward for most of the arraignment.
After the May incident, Power, 32, was ordered to have no contact with Penny, records show. Penny did not obtain a restraining order, according to Ryan’s office.
After allegedly killing Penny, Power fled to Seabrook, N.H., where he was taken into custody by police in connection with her death.
On Lebanon Street, a small bouquet of pink roses was placed in front of the home where the couple lived. A card read “Rest in peace Lea (sic). May your children continue to feel your presence.” It was signed “Ann, Malden neighbor.”
As they sat in the yard next door, Julie and Maureen Simopoulos expressed shock at the alleged murder.
“It’s like it’s not real,” said Maureen. “You look at the house and think ‘Oh, my goodness. A couple of days ago, I just said ‘Hi’ to her.”
“She was always very sweet,” Julie said of Penny. “I would see her with her kids and she would always say ‘Hi.’ ”
They saw less of Power, who always seemed to be working, they said.
When he was around, Power was “ . . . always very nice, very respectful and would help me shovel in the winter,” Maureen Simopoulos said. “What happened was so unexpected.”
According to court records, Power went to Probate and Family Court in 2015 on issues related to custody and visitation. The case was dismissed one month later, records show.
During the incident on May 30, Power allegedly grabbed the couple’s two children and rushed with them over to his mother’s house, also in Malden, police wrote. The children were reunited with their mother after police arrested Power.
Penny “stated that her boyfriend and father of her children, Ryan Power, was accusing her of cheating on him,’’ police wrote. “During the argument Power pushed Leah to the ground. She then got up and pushed him back.”
Malden police wrote that they alerted the Department of Children and Families about the incident after Power was charged with domestic violence.
According to a Malden police report, Power has three obvious tattoos: one on his left forearm with the phrase “Never Give Up,’’ a second on his right forearm that reads “Never Forget,” and a third on the left side of his chest — a tattoo of a “crazy dude.”John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.