Detectives ID victim of Woonsocket homicide

Photo: Steph Machado | WPRI 12

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island State Police mobile crime lab spent all of Thursday at the Fairfield Avenue home Thursday where an 81-year-old woman was found dead the day before.

Police identified the victim on Thursday as Constance Gauthier. Her death is being investigated as a homicide based on the preliminary Medical Examiner’s report, Woonsocket’s Acting Police Chief Michael Lemoine said.

Chief Lemoine updated reporters on the investigation Thursday afternoon, giving little details but revealing that police were called after Gauthier missed a physical therapy appointment.

“I can confirm that when she missed that appointment, it raised the concern of the physical therapist who went to go check on her condition,” Chief Lemoine said in response to questions from Eyewitness News about who discovered the victim.

A next-door neighbor, Vinny Grenon, told Eyewitness News his son helped alert police to the death, after looking through a back window.

“The room was destroyed. Everything was upside down,” he said. “She was in the bedroom lying down underneath the mattress.”

Chief Lemoine declined to comment on or confirm that version of events.

Thursday night, Rhode Island State Police searched Grenon’s garage and yard, taking photos of what appeared to be piles of junk on top of a car.

Police also brought a K-9 to the scene Thursday to assist in the investigation.

Gauthier’s colleagues and friends said she was feisty and strong, even in old age.

Rene Paulhus said he’s known Gauthier for 10 years as a co-worker and friend.

“It’s tough to talk about her because she’s a wonderful person,” said Paulhus. “I always liked her. I hope that she’s in heaven.”

Paulhus said prior to retirement, he worked with Gauthier for the school department at the McFee Administration Building. He occasionally mowed her lawn and helped her out with errands, after which she would give him a snack. He remembers her final gift to him.

“A bag of pistachios,” he said, chuckling.

At the time of her death, Gauthier served as the chair of the city’s Personnel Board, a volunteer board that receives grievances from city employees and reviews applicant resumes.

“It’s a big loss for folks who knew her, and certainly for the city,” said Richard Monteiro, vice-chair of the board.

Even at 81, Monteiro said Gauthier – known as Connie – was a busy, active woman.

“She still drove, had a little sports car,” he said. “For her 75th birthday, she got a tattoo on her neck.”

Details about Gauthier’s death are being withheld pending the outcome of the investigation.

Police say they have no suspects. Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact Woonsocket police at (401) 766-1212.

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