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N.H. AG: Newport man suffering from dementia shot wife, won’t be charged



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, May 09, 2019

NEWPORT — A 77-year-old Newport man suffering from dementia allegedly shot and killed his wife on Tuesday inside the home they shared for decades, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said on Thursday.

George “Graham” Clarke will not face criminal charges for the death of Margaret “Peggy” Clarke, 75, at this time.

“The accused is suffering from terminal cognitive and physical health issues including dementia and is currently at a medical facility,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a news release. “Under these circumstances and due to concerns regarding Mr. Clarke’s legal competency, no criminal charges will be brought at this time.”

Graham Clarke allegedly shot his wife inside their Maple Street home on Tuesday afternoon. Why he shot her remains unclear, but Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati said Clarke’s deteriorating mental status “played a role.”

“It’s a very sad case,” Agati said in an interview on Thursday night.

Authorities on Wednesday ruled Peggy Clarke’s “suspicious death” a homicide, saying she died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Police were alerted to the incident on Tuesday when a 911 caller said a female had been shot at 553 Maple St. A neighbor on Tuesday said he then saw Graham Clarke outside talking with authorities.

Agati wouldn’t say at which medical facility Graham Clarke was residing. He said no additional news releases would be issued in the near future.

“I can’t say definitively what the next steps will be,” Agati said. “We are looking at the whole picture.”

Several neighbors said the Clarkes have lived in the home for several decades and were never known to fight. They also said Graham Clarke used to work for Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Longtime friend Beulah Benson, who lives nearby on Maple Street, said on Tuesday that she feared the worst when she saw authorities put up caution tape around the Clarke home.

“Neither one of them are tempered,” Benson said, and she wondered what could have happened.

“I just don’t know,” she said Tuesday. “Maybe they are going through a change of life or something. Maybe (one of their) minds snapped.”

Peggy Clarke’s family published her obituary in the Valley News on Friday, in which they referred to her as a “hardworking, caring, and loving person.”

“She enjoyed spending time with family and friends and excelled at many different hand crafts, including beading, sewing, crochet, and knitting,” the family wrote.

The Clarkes have two daughters, Kaara Gonyo and Darlene Reid, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Her graveside service will take place on Saturday.

Jordan Cuddemi can be  reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.