Authorities in New Hampshire have arrested a juvenile on charges of killing a mother and her two young sons in Northfield, N.H. last week, state Attorney General John M. Formella’s office said Thursday.
In a statement, Formella’s office said the youth, who wasn’t named due to their age, is charged under the state’s juvenile laws with three counts of first-degree murder for the slayings of Kassandra Sweeney, 25, and her sons Benjamin, 4, and Mason, 1.
The three victims were found dead from gunshot wounds in the family’s Wethersfield Drive home on the morning of Aug. 3. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie V. Duval conducted autopsies on Sweeney and her sons, determining all three were shot once, according to the statement.
“Since the alleged perpetrator is a juvenile, the law precludes any further information from being released,” the statement said. “The charges and allegations against the juvenile are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
Officials did not disclose the relationship, if any, between the juvenile and the victims. No motive was given for the killings.
During a 5 p.m. news conference, Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey W.R. Ward spoke of the Sweeney family’s grief.
“The family is completely devastated, and rightly so, by this completely tragic set of circumstances,” Ward said, according to video broadcast by WMUR-TV.
Ward told reporters that he could not release the age of the suspect or speak about any specifics in the case, and that all information will remain private until the case is completed, unless the juvenile is tried as an adult.
Ward declined to say whether the attorney general’s office would petition the court to try the youth as an adult.
He said he does not expect anyone else to be charged in the case.
“We don’t anticipate any other charges coming,” Ward said. “As I said, we believe, and we believed last week, that we’d identified all the individuals involved.”
Kassandra, Benjamin, and Mason Sweeney will be remembered in a funeral service at Bennett Funeral Home on North Main Street in Concord at noon Saturday, according to an online obituary.
The “3 Beautiful Sweeney Angel Fund” has been set up in memory of Kassandra Sweeney and her boys. Contributions are accepted at any TD Bank branch, the obituary said.
Authorities on Wednesday had resumed a search for evidence along Interstate 93 in Concord, Canterbury, and Tilton, according to prosecutors.
Wednesday’s search was the second conducted in grassy areas near I-93 in the three communities. Last Saturday, several area roads were also searched, officials said.
Prosecutors said last week that Sweeney’s husband, Sean M. Sweeney, was “beyond devastated” by the killings and cooperating with authorities.
“The father is somebody we have been in contact with, who has been very cooperative and helpful in this investigation,” Ward said during a recent briefing. “Our victim witness advocate is working with him and his family and providing services. He’s obviously beyond devastated as a result of these crimes.”
It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday when the charged juvenile will appear in court. In addition to the murder counts, he’s also charged with one count of falsifying physical evidence, prosecutors said. The statement didn’t indicate how the juvenile allegedly tampered with evidence.
Correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed reporting.