Update: The victims have been identified. For more details, click here.
PEABODY — State and local police were investigating the deaths of a man and a woman found inside a Peabody home, in a crime scene so “messy” that it was initially difficult to determine how many bodies were in the house, a spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney said Sunday.
The spokeswoman, Carrie Kimball Monahan, said investigators at first struggled to determine the number of victims in the house at 19 Farm Ave. “because of the condition of the scene,” which she did not describe further.
Police requested X-ray equipment from the state fire marshal’s office to help make an accurate body count, Monahan said.
Monahan said later Sunday that investigators have identified the victims but their names were not being released pending family notification. She did not say how they had died and said that no arrests have been made.
State Police learned about the deaths at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday when a woman who had been inside the home arrived at their barracks in Danvers, Monahan said.
The woman had fled the home and flagged down a vehicle that brought her to the barracks. Troopers then went to the home and called for a police dog, Monahan said.
“It [was] a painstaking process to sift through exactly what we’re looking for, while preserving evidence of the crime,” she said Sunday.
Based on a statement the woman made to police at the barracks, she said, it appears that the people involved in the crime knew one another.
Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett does not believe the public is at risk, she said.
David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, declined to answer questions about the deaths, citing the ongoing investigation.
“The scene is being processed for evidence by our crime scene technicians, and homicide detectives are developing and following relevant information,” Procopio said in an e-mail. “In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we can’t discuss specific details at this juncture.”
Rose, a neighbor who asked that her last name be withheld because she was concerned for her safety, said police had visited the home repeatedly in the past, and the house was a cause for concern among neighbors.
“I’m just quite shocked because I was on my way to church services this morning and I noticed all the police commotion. . . . My neighborhood has been turned into a police scene all afternoon,” Rose said by phone Sunday evening.
Of the residents at the house, she said, “They weren’t ideal neighbors. . . . I kept away from them as much as possible.” Before their arrival, she said, it had always been “a peaceful neighborhood and a lovely one.”
Police Chief Thomas Griffin said in a news conference at the scene that the home was known to police, according to video of the conference shown on WCVB-TV (Channel 5).
“We’ve been here a number of different times for all kinds of different incidents,” Griffin said. “It wouldn’t really be fair to characterize them as any one particular way.”
The news that bodies were found in the home was shocking, said 20-year-old Julia Brown, who lives down the street.
The small, white two-bedroom bungalow, built in 1920, is near Interstate 95 in a mostly industrial neighborhood with a handful of residences along the street.
A wheelchair ramp is connected to the front door, and a “beware of dog” sign hangs next to a side door.
Online property records list the owners of the house, which is on nearly 3 acres, as Stanley J. Pikul Jr. and Lucy J. Pikul, who live in the house next door. The Pikuls could not be reached for comment Sunday.
“This stuff just doesn’t happen in Peabody,” said Don Tapley, another neighbor.