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Woman burned body, police allege Murder charge rocks N.H. town
By John Ellement and Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff
April 4, 2006
EPPING, N.H. -- Bonnie Meroth figured the small, red sedan held yet more curiosity seekers drawn by the sensational tale of a neighborhood woman accused of killing a man and then incinerating his body. But then the blond woman sitting in the passenger seat spoke. ''I'm his mother," Suzanne Countie of Tewksbury told Meroth. Countie was there to see the location where prosecutors say Sheila LaBarre killed Countie's son, Kenneth, 24.

The chance encounter between Countie and Meroth took place yesterday afternoon at the beginning of Red Oak Hill Lane, a dirt road leading to LaBarre's horse farm.

''I told her that my heart hurts for her and her family," said Meroth, a neighbor. ''God bless her for pursuing this."

Earlier yesterday, Suzanne Countie watched as LaBarre was arraigned in a Massachusetts court on charges of marijuana possession and being a fugitive from justice. Then Countie traveled to New Hampshire to see the farm, still cordoned off by investigators.

LaBarre, 47, is scheduled to be arraigned today in Portsmouth District Court on a charge of first-degree murder. Kenneth Countie had recently moved from Wilmington, Mass., to LaBarre's farm. His family reported him missing March 23.

Officials allege that LaBarre killed Countie around March 21 in Epping and then set his body ablaze.

New Hampshire prosecutors declined yesterday to discuss the details of the investigation.

LaBarre was carrying $30,000 and a $50,000 cashier's check when she was arrested Sunday at Northgate Shopping Center in Revere, prosecutors said.

In court yesterday, LaBarre appeared calm, though her lawyer said she was ''shell-shocked," and one of Countie's relatives held up a large picture of him.

''She was trying to sort out what the accusations are," defense attorney Jeffrey Denner said.

One of LaBarre's neighbors yesterday described a woman prone to rages, who had talked about picking up men. ''She told me . . . how she picked out ones she liked and would bring them home," said the neighbor, Bruce G. Allen.

Allen said over the years he has seen a number of men coming and going from the LaBarre farm located up the road from his dairy farm. He recalled one incident in which a man he said was living with LaBarre showed up at his farm bloodied and disheveled, asking for help. Allen said he drove the man to a nearby town.

Allen said that long-running tensions between him and LaBarre for many years made him concerned about his personal safety. ''I didn't dare walk down that road," he said.

Allen said he thinks he saw Countie driving LaBarre's pickup truck, but he never had any face-to-face interaction with Countie.

Police spent yesterday searching the rolling farmland and rural subdivisions for possible evidence, a procedure that unnerved some residents. ''I didn't move up here from Massachusetts to run into this," said one neighbor who did not want to be named, fearing retribution from LaBarre.

LaBarre was living on a horse farm that was originally owned by her common-law husband, a chiropractor, Wilfred LaBarre. The doctor was known for driving around Epping in his horse and buggy and offering rides to children. She inherited the farm when he died in 2000.

LaBarre's brother Richard Bailey, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was stunned to discover the accusations against his sister. He learned of accusations when he was routinely checking news on the Internet, he said yesterday. In a telephone interview, he said his sister is the youngest of six raised in a Baptist family. Their father was an equipment operator for the state highway department and their mother worked in housekeeping at a hospital, he said.

Sheila met Wilfred LaBarre through a personal ad in a magazine, her brother said, and a few months later, she moved to New Hampshire. Bailey said Wilfred LaBarre told him Sheila had turned around his chiropractic business by helping to collect unpaid bills from clients.

Bailey, who last saw his sister at their brother's funeral in 2005, said his sister had mood swings but was not violent. ''Our church members are praying for the family of the boy, and also for my sister, that nothing she's been charged with is true," he said.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at kburge@globe.com.

I know that it's no big deal that another man has been killed but WHERE IS THE MEDIA OUTRAGE?? 

Laci Petersen, Nicole Brown (there was a man killed alongside of Brown as well, but here again, what's the murder of another man), for example, were horrendous killings that deserve attention but there is example after example of men being murdered horrendously by women with story after story buried in the back pages.   This story is getting some attention but not the same if the gender roles were reversed and no where have you seen the term domestic violence used to describe this horrendous abuse on a man.