North Adams Woman's Death Ruled Homicide
|Police investigators were at the scene of a homicide on Walker Street most of the day Wednesday.|
Updated 8:57 a.m., Sept. 19, 2013, with information from latest district attorney release. Rewrite throughout. Original story posted at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are treating the death of an 84-year-old North Adams woman as a homicide and are now searching for her car.
Police received a 911 call at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday reporting a death at 409 Walker St., according to a statement form the district attorney's office.
Officers arrived on the scene to find the deceased, Ellen Depaoli.
On Thursday morning, the district attorney's office released a third statement that states a blue 2005 Ford Taurus, Massachusetts registration 88ZA27, that was registed to Depaoli is missing from her residence. Police are asking anyone who knows the whereabouts of her car to contact the North Adams Police Department at 413-664-4944.
The statement does not indicate the circumstance surrounding Depaoli's death other to say it is "under investigation at this time."
A second statement at 2:13 p.m. on Wednesday from the district attorney states: "Investigators expect an autopsy, to determine the exact cause of death, to be conducted tomorrow at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston."
Police have been tight-lipped about the incident.
North Adams Police and Ambulance arrived at 409 Walker at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, state police, North Adams Police and Mayor Richard Alcombright were all at the scene, which is near the Clarksburg border.
A vehicle with the chief medical examiner's logo arrived about 12:30 p.m., along with an all-terrain vehicle from the Fire Department. A second ATV arrived shortly after. Both ATVs were driven down by the nearby high tension wires where trails open up north toward Clarksburg and Vermont.
Police declined to comment last night or this morning on what had happened and there was no information on the police log other than officers and the ambulance responded to the home. All questions about the incident are being referred to the district attorney's office.
"I don't want to talk out of turn, this is being handled and communicated through the district attorney's office," said Mayor Richard Alcombright when pressed by media at the scene. He refused to comment on any particulars, including whether there was even a crime committed. "I am not going to comment," he said, referring all communications to the district attorney's office.
He did say officials felt comfortable opening the schools this morning, but declined to say if there was a suspect either in custody or on the run.
"We did not think there was anything for folks to worry about," he said.
In response to rumors of a perpetrator on the run, the mayor posted on his Facebook page this morning that "there is no imminent threat at this time. If there was, I would communicate that immediately."
The North Adams Schools were in lockout mode during the day. According to a statement on the school department's website: "All North Adams schools are currently enacting heightened security measures as a precaution in light of the tragic death of a local woman last night and the active police response."
None of the schools "are in imminent danger," it continues, however, students were kept inside, exteriors doors were locked and visitors were not allowed in.
Police presence on Walker Street was heavy overnight, with a number of vehicles there in the early morning hours. Attempts to approach the house shortly after midnight were rebuffed. Crime scene tape was stretched across the front yard.
Police had blocked off the street to through-traffic by 10 a.m. Wednesday, diverting traffic across Daniels Road and turning it back below the home.
The single-family home is in a lightly developed residential area. The house was owned by Olympio and Ellen Dickinson Depaoli, according to documents on file in the Registry of Deeds. Olympio Depaoli died in 1999. The couple appeared to have lived in the house since at least 1950; in later years, a son had been reportedly living with her.
Depaoli had run the Drury High School cafeteria for many years.
"She was a wonderful person," said Mary Haley Hewitt, who had worked under Depaoli for 15 years. "She was good to me, she was good to all of us who worked for her. She was just a nice lady."
The investigation is being conducted by the North Adams Police Department, state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, officers from the Pittsfield Police Department and deputies from the Berkshire County sheriff's department, and members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force.
This article will be frequently updated as we receive more information.
|Left, Clarksburg Police blocked access to the upper section of Walker Street; right, a busy scene outside the house earlier Wednesday morning.|