LONDONDERRY, NH — The assistant chief of the Manchester Fire Department was under investigation on rape charges when he took his own life in a Pelham park on Sept. 30, according to police.
The body of Brendan Burns, 45, of Londonderry, was found in the Frederic Cutter Merriam Conservation Area in Pelham after a be-on-the-lookout call was put out for his arrest on two aggravated felonious sexual assault; no consent and physically helpless victim charges.
According to police, detectives in Londonderry had arranged to meet with Burns after spending the previous five days investigating rape allegations against him made by a woman who he had drinks with on Sept. 22.
After right-to-know requests by media outlets, Londonderry police released a 60-plus page incident report concerning the accusations against Burns.
The investigation included interviews with the victim, Nest video from inside and outside her home, interviews with employees and video at the restaurant where they were together, a rape examination kit, and a transcription of a one consent phone call, approved by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, in which the victim spoke with Burns. During the phone call, held on Sept. 28, police accused Burns of apologizing repeatedly, saying that they would get through the unfortunate encounter together, and remarked that they may have been roofied. The video from inside the woman’s home, according to police, showed that the victim was inebriated, vomiting, and not in control of her faculties — while Burns appeared to be guiding the sexual attack against her.
A day after the phone call, on Sept. 29, a detective contacted Burns and requested a meeting. The report said Burns agreed to meet with police at 3 p.m. that day but then, did not show up for the meeting. Police were also unable to reach him later in the day and a warrant was issued for his arrest on the two felony charges.
The next day, a member of Burns’ family reported him missing.
The last known contact with Burns, according to the report, was him abruptly leaving work and driving home about 30 minutes after agreeing to meet with police. He reportedly went home, switched vehicles, and left the home again.
Police put out the be-on-the-lookout call for Burns and began tracing possible credit card purchases, pinging his cellphone for locations, and utilizing OnStar on his GMC pickup truck to find the vehicle. Later, both his phone and truck were located in the Pelham conservation area. Police in Pelham, according to the report, located his unoccupied pickup truck and began searching the area. Later, police located a suicide note and a handgun.
Burns worked for the Manchester Fire Department for 24 years and also served as the city’s assistant director of emergency management, according to his obituary. He lived in Merrimack for many years before moving to Londonderry.
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