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May 25, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? Seeking our own answers amid death probe silence

It was late Saturday morning when we first got word that there had been some sort of overnight incident that had led to a man’s death in LePage Lane.

And given the questions still swirling around the case a week later, you can imagine that gleaning information within hours of the incident was difficult.

I first called Gloucester police, and told a detective on duty that someone on our news team had heard from an emergency responder that there had been a “suspicious death” overnight. I said we were simply looking to confirm that, and were looking to get some information as to what may have happened.

The detective confirmed that there had been an “incident,” but that any information would have to come from the police chief, from Massachusetts State Police, or from the Essex District Attorney’s office — and that’s not at all unusual. While our reporters routinely deal with police officers and pick up logs and police reports virtually every day, a complex case such as this — especially when it’s still under investigation — often crosses jurisdictional lines, and that can make information more difficult to come by.

Indeed, I called and spoke with Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello, who said his understanding was that information should be forthcoming from the DA’s office. And Carrie Kimball Monahan, who regularly speaks for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, took my call and issued a statement through the office a short time later.

It confirmed that police and detectives assigned to the DA’s office were actively investigating an “incident” that led to a man’s death, that it involved a vehicle and had drawn a 911 call to 39 LePage Lane, that the driver was “cooperating” with police, and no charges were filed. A short time later, she then updated that statement with the name of the deceased, who turned out to be a 29-year-old Salem man.

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