Vermont State Police say the person of interest in the suspicious death of a young woman from Harvard, Massachusetts, is dead after a police shooting Tuesday night.
The man who was being sought as part of the ongoing investigation into the disappearance and death of 23-year-old Mary Anderson was located just before 8 p.m. Tuesday walking in West Brattleboro, Vermont, state police said. During an attempt to speak with him, he was shot and killed by police.
Vermont State Police initially said the man's name was being withheld pending notification of family, however Massachusetts State Police and Harvard police both confirmed Matthew Davis -- Anderson's ex-boyfriend who was wanted for questioning in her death -- was the person fatally shot Tuesday night during the confrontation with Vermont State Police and the Brattleboro Police Department.
Around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Vermont State Police said they had notified the man's family and that it was Davis who was killed in the police shooting. According to state police, Davis was fatally shot in a wooded area between Bonnyvale Road and South Street. A state police detective was canvassing the neighborhood when he saw someone matching Davis's description. Vermont State Police and the Brattleboro Police Department responded to the scene immediately, and two troopers and a Brattleboro police officer fired their weapons during "the course of the encounter" with Davis, who was armed with a knife, according to police.
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Two Massachusetts State Police detectives were also in the area.
Police performed life-saving measures on Davis following the shooting, but he died from his injuries on scene. A knife was found near his body, according to state police. No one else was injured in the incident.
At a press conference earlier Tuesday evening, the commander of the Vermont State Police criminal division had said Davis was considered a person of interest in the Anderson case. Maj. Dan Trudeau said the 34-year-old from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, should be considered dangerous and should not be approached by anyone.
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Authorities wanted to talk to Davis after Anderson's body was found early Tuesday morning inside her truck in Brattleboro, Vermont, several days after she disappeared.
She had last been seen in Hudson, New Hampshire, around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Harvard police said. She was last seen driving a navy blue Toyota Tacoma with Massachusetts license plates.
Her family told police they had not had any contact with her, which was unusual.
"We're a very tight-knit family," Sheila Anderson said Tuesday. "Mary would never leave us as a family hanging. We're very respectful of each other."
Sheila Anderson told NBC10 Boston Tuesday night that her daughter Mary was last seen leaving her friend's house, and she was never heard from again after that. It wasn't until Sunday morning when the Anderson family realized she never made it back home that they grew concerned.
“My daughter said, you know, 'Mary hasn’t come home, mom,' and Mary always comes home. She sleeps at home, and that was kind of like the first flag," Sheila Anderson told NBC10 Boston. "And then we found a backpack behind that Christmas tree.”
Sheila Anderson doesn't know what happened to her daughter, but believes her daughter's ex-boyfriend was outside their Harvard home waiting for her to get back Saturday night.
"I believe Mary came home from visiting friends in Hudson, New Hampshire, and I believe that Matt was waiting behind the tree when she got home, and the next thing we know, we wake up, I mean this is probably 11:30 at night, we're all sleeping. Mary works night shift. Mary visits friends. It's not unlike her to come home like 11, 11:30. We hear the dogs barking, oh that's Mary coming home. But nobody suspected that she got here, and I don't know if Mary got here, but she was coming from Hudson visiting friends to return home, and when she got home she was supposed to text the friends, to say...'I'm home.' Nobody got that text," Sheila Anderson revealed. "And then the next morning is when my daughter Maria said, 'Mary didn't come home, mom.' And then we saw the backpack, Matt's backpack. We believe it's Matt's. My daughter identified it as Matt's because she had seen it before, and then we went to the police."
Sheila Anderson says she didn't know much about Davis but that he was always welcome in their home until the couple split late last year.
“I know when they broke up it was a rough break up. He didn’t want it and I know that Mary told me that he was texting her to try to get back together," Sheila Anderson said. "I just know that Matt had anger issues and I knew that through Mary.”
What Sheila Anderson knew about the former couple's relationship was somewhat limited, as her daughter kept a lot of that to herself.
"Mary was again very private. Mary kind of took a lot on shoulders. When my son Joseph died in August, she was still with Matt, and I was hoping Matt would have been comforting her, but all along I found out that things were rough. And she kept it all in," Sheila Anderson said. "And that's the sad part for me as a mom, to know that whatever she experienced these last four days, just heart wrenching because she was alone. She wasn't with her mom and her...siblings. I mean that's the devastating part, knowing what she was going through the last four days."
Vermont State Police said Tuesday morning that a woman's body had been found inside a vehicle on Elliot Street in Brattleboro just before 1 a.m. and that her death was being investigated as suspicious. They later confirmed that the vehicle that was found was Anderson's truck.
The body has not yet been positively identified, according to Trudeau. An autopsy is expected to be performed Wednesday morning. Trudeau would not comment or speculate on the cause of Davis's death Tuesday, saying only that it will be up to the medical examiner's office to determine that.
"There's a lot we don't know yet," Trudeau said, adding that the investigation is still very active and detectives are learning ongoing details. They have not yet developed any information as to why this happened in Brattleboro, he said.
Trudeau said Massachusetts State Police detectives also responded to the Vermont crime scene Tuesday and that they have been in communication with police officers from the Harvard Police Department.
Additionally, Massachusetts State Police detectives conducted a search in Anderson's hometown of Harvard on Tuesday, which they said was related to Anderson's disappearance. Harvard police said only that the search was taking place on Still River Road and was part of an "ongoing investigation." They referred all further questions to the Worcester District Attorney's Office, which confirmed the search was related to Anderson's disappearance but released no additional information.
Sheila Anderson said police spent about five hours there, adding that police won't tell her the whole story until they get the whole story, and she has to be patient with that.
Detectives first showed up to the Anderson's Harvard home around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday and Sheila Anderson knew it wasn't going to be good news because of the expression on their faces. The detectives told her a body had been found in Vermont matching the description of her daughter.
Speaking through tears Tuesday night, Sheila Anderson remembered her daughter for all of her wonderful qualities.
"Mary was very strong-headed, athletic, loving, beautiful," she shared. "She was just a beautiful daughter."
An emotional candlelight vigil was held Tuesday evening at a church in Harvard where Anderson's religious family was surrounded by dozens of loved ones for a sunset prayer vigil.
Dozens came together at Saint Benedict Abbey to honor the life of Anderson on the same day she was found dead in Vermont. Her mother was seen hugging attendees after tearfully standing in front of their Harvard home, mourning the loss of her daughter.
The horrible news compounds on another tragedy the family experienced just last August.
“Devastating news. Eleven months ago, I lost my son to another tragedy," Sheila Anderson said. "And my two children and I are trying to cope with this.”
Prior to news of Davis's death Tuesday night, Sheila Anderson also said her focus was never on him as a possible suspect; it was only on her daughter. And now it's on her two surviving children, who have lost their brother and sister in separate tragic incidents within the past year.
"My focus is that we found my daughter, and I can be, not at peace, but not on pins and needles everyday, saying, 'where is she? Where is she? Where is she?' Yes it was a very sad outcome, but she's home," Sheila Anderson said through tears. "It's done for me. It's not done in the criminal part but for me as a mom I don't have to be wondering anymore. Matt's not my focus. My two surviving children are my focus right now, to get them past this devastating event."
A date and time for a memorial service for Anderson had not been determined as of Tuesday night. Funeral arrangements have also not been planned yet.
Vermont State Police said they are continuing to investigate the case with Massachusetts State Police, Harvard police and prosecutors in Vermont and Massachusetts.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious Monday night, particularly in the Elliot Street area in Brattleboro, is asked to call police. Additionally, if anyone has surveillance cameras in the area, they are asked to call Vermont State Police at 802-722-4600, or the Brattleboro Police Department at 802-257-7946.
The investigation into the fatal police shooting involving Davis is also ongoing. Davis's body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Burlington for an autopsy to confirm the cause and manner of his death. Investigators remained at that shooting scene early Wednesday morning.
In accordance with standard protocol, the identifies of the officers who fired their weapons will be released a day after the shooting, and the state troopers will be placed on paid administrative leave for a minimum of five days. Once state police complete their investigation, the case will be given to the Vermont Attorney General's Office and the relevant state's attorney's office for them to independently review the police use of deadly force.