A New Hampshire man was pronounced dead late Friday, hours after he had been found in critical condition near his murdered wife, authorities said late Saturday afternoon, in a shocking pair of shootings allegedly committed by an 11-year-old child.
James Eckert, 48, and Lizette Eckert, 50, were found shot early Friday morning at 76 Dobbins Way in Alton, N.H., New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward said Friday.
New Hampshire’s chief medical examiner autopsied Lizette Eckert’s body on Saturday and determined that her death was a homicide caused by a single gunshot wound to the head, Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald said in a statement.
James Eckert is scheduled to be autopsied on Monday.
Several relatives of the Eckerts did not respond to requests for comment.
The child alleged to have shot them was apprehended about 9:30 a.m. Friday, after a search, and “charged under the juvenile laws in this state with one count of reckless second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder,” Ward said.
MacDonald did not say Saturday whether those charges would be amended in light of James Eckert’s death.
Under New Hampshire law, Ward is prohibited from releasing the identity of a juvenile defendant or details of the allegations, he said. State law also requires that a defendant be at least 13 to be certified as an adult for murder and other serious offenses.
Residents of Alton struggled Saturday to comprehend the brutal violence in their rural community of about 5,000 people.
“It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy,” said Ginnie Adams, 75, of Alton. “They were very nice people.”
Adams, speaking in a phone interview before James Eckert’s death was announced, said she and her neighbors were “very disturbed” by the shootings. A resident of Alton for half a century, Adams said the Eckerts had lived there several years and operated a chiropractic business.
James Eckert — whom Adams called “Dr. Jim” — treated Adams for three or four years, seeing her as often as twice a week for a time, she said.
“He was very outgoing, and people would congregate in his office to talk to him,” she recalled. “It was like a social gathering.”
Once when Adams visited his office, Lizette Eckert performed an adjustment for Adams, she said, though the mother of three “was more involved with homeschooling her children.”
A 2011 Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing shows that both Eckerts were then self-employed as chiropractors in South Portland, Maine, about 25 miles from the lakeside home in Raymond, Maine, they then owned.
James Eckert owned Innate Chiropractic in South Portland, and Lizette Eckert was its clinic director, according to an entry on the Better Business Bureau website.
James Eckert was also the co-author of the book “The World’s Best Kept Health Secret Revealed,” and presented “wellness workshops” on a variety of topics, according to the business’s website. No one answered the phone number listed for the business on Saturday.
The Eckert’s 2011 bankruptcy filing shows the family owned bunk beds, children’s toys, and a chest of drawers intended for a child. The filing also shows they possessed two Kel-Tec P-3AT handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a .22-caliber rifle at that time.
Authorities have not said what kind of gun or guns were used to shoot the Eckerts.
James Eckert was a “serious long-distance runner” in his spare time, Adams said, and lived with his family on an Alton farm with many animals.
Lizette Eckert sometimes brought their children into the chiropractic office, Adams said, and she recalled having a conversation two summers ago with the couple’s daughter, their oldest child, who was captivated by horses.
“We had something in common: I used to have a horse,” Adams said.
With the children in mind, Adams said before James Eckert’s death was announced, she was praying that “Dr. Jim” would recover.
“Those kids are going to need at least one parent,” she said.