ALTON, N.H. — A tiny New Hampshire community on Friday buried a couple gunned down in their home, a crime with which an 11-year-old boy has been charged.
James Eckert, a 48-year-old chiropractor and ultramarathon runner, and his wife, 50-year-old Lizette Eckert, also a chiropractor, were shot March 15 in their Alton home. An 11-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree murder, but officials have not provided the relationship between the boy and the victims.
The couple’s funeral was held at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Alton.
The killing has stunned those who knew James Eckert, who was a regular presence at races around New England, including the Vermont 100 Endurance Race, and was active in his local church. Lizette Eckert ‘‘loved being a mom to her three children’’ and running the family farm, according to the couple’s obituary.
Amy Rusiecki, director of the race, said in a telephone interview that Eckert had been set to run it for an eighth time this year. She recalled how she would sometimes run with him and how, during one difficult race, she offered him a margarita to lift his spirits.
She described Eckert as someone who made friends with everyone at the races and was a ‘‘super generous, genuine person’’ when it came to helping out at races. Lizette Eckert often came to cheer on her husband, she said.
‘‘He was always someone I enjoyed running with because it was always easy conversation,’’ Rusiecki said, adding that a friend of Eckert will run in his place this year in theVermont 100 in his memory. ‘‘He would be talking about his family, the farm, his kids, races he had done. . . . I just remember very easy conversation and running miles and them just flying by.’’
Residents have rallied around the family, with several businesses in town taking donations. A GoFundMe page started for the family is filled with friends expressing shock and sadness over losing a couple many called good friends and great bosses.
The couple met at an Iowa chiropractic college.
Pastor Sam Holo, of the Community Church of Alton, said that a few dozen parishioners were close to James Eckert and that he had known him for three years. Soon after the killing, Holo opened the church for prayers and offered counseling for anyone needing it.
‘‘He was a man of integrity,’’ Holo said. ‘‘We've lost a good one in that sense.’’
The two bonded, Holo said, over their Christian faith and their desire to live life as the Bible dictated. Eckert was also passionate about health and recently talked of starting a health website, he said.
‘‘The shock factor has really kind of destabilized us all,’’ Holo said. ‘‘We’re thinking everything seems to be going well. But all of sudden, it’s this bad.’’
James Eckert was pronounced dead after he was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Lizette Eckert was found inside the home with gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy revealed they both died from a single gunshot wound to the head.