Karina Barriga Albring
A group of Keene State College students found a body during a class outing to Beaver Brook Falls on Route 9. The body was discovered around noon on Thursday, Feb. 28, about three miles away from the KSC campus.
The Keene Police Department said on Feb. 28 that the victim was a 52-year-old female resident from Keene. Sergeant Christopher Simonds from the KPD said on Saturday the victim was identified as Maureen Brooks.
Regarding any suspicious circumstances surrounding the case, KPD Sergeant Mike Kopcha said, “There is no evidence that indicates anything suspicious. It seems that there was no foul-play,” Kopcha said. Kopcha would not comment on the possibility of a suicide.
The cause of death has not yet been determined. According to Simonds, KPD has still not heard back about the medical exams. Sergeant Simonds said he couldn’t comment on the date or time when the victim died.
Simonds said he didn’t know when the results from the autopsy will be available.
The group of 17 KSC students who found the body are from Professor Karen Seaver’s Conservation of the Ecosystems class. According to Seaver, the class is working on a research project that studies the river ecosystem.
For this, the students decided to study Beaver Brook river.
According to Seaver, the group first saw the body about 0.2 miles from the main road.
Timothy Dolan, one of the students on the outing, said when the students got to the trail they saw a body facing down in the snow.
“At first we thought it was a guy, then we realized it was a woman,” Dolan said. “We wanted to see if the person needed help, so we got closer and tried to see if we got an answer,” Dolan continued.
Seaver said for her, it was clear that the death was recent, “since we have just had a snowfall and the person was not cover by snow.”
Dolan said after the students approached the person and got no response, they called 911. KPD was notified at 12:33 p.m. A student talked to the police and then passed the phone over to their professor. Seaver said she then checked for vital signs and notified the dispatcher that the person was deceased.
According to Dolan, an ambulance and some police cars got to the scene within minutes. Dolan said the students didn’t alter the scene and saw nothing suspicious around the body.
Seaver said she couldn’t identify any signs of struggle.
“We were told by the police that there could have been alcohol overdose or a medical emergency,” Seaver said. Beaver Brook Falls is a popular hiking train in Keene.
The trail is described by newenglandwaterfalls.com as an easy to moderate hiking trail and handicap accessible.
According to Sergeant Simonds, Beaver Brook Falls is open for the public now. “The place where the body was found is not an active crime scene,” Simonds said.
However, Professor Seaver said she would discuss with her class the possibility to move their research to a different location. “I would like to remain focused on our goals for the project and it could be a distraction or emotionally taxing to go back to the place,” she noted. According to a report in the Keene Sentinel, in 2008, Brooks paid a $500 fine after she pleaded guilty to shoplifting a bottle of wine from Jake’s 5 Star Convenience on Roxbury Street, Keene. Brooks remained under protective custody on two occasions; once in February 2007, and in March of 2008.
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at email@example.com