Bristol experienced no shortage of tragic stories in 2017.
The year began with the murder of a retired police captain’s sister in January. That was then followed by a grim spring, when the Aaron Hernandez saga abruptly ended with the Bristol native’s suicide, and a toddler lost his life during an accident in his family’s driveway.
Woman murdered in home; killer hanged himself
On Jan. 9, at about 7:15 p.m., a family member found 59-year-old Gale McIntyre dead inside her Timber Lane home. She was killed as a result of blunt trauma.
Only hours into the investigation, looking into who could have committed the gruesome act, police in Hartford responded to a motel in their city and found 44-year-old Robert Newman dead. He had hanged himself. Meanwhile, police in Bristol were interviewing residents of McIntyre’s neighborhood when some neighbors expressed concern about Newman.
Investigators then found evidence inside Newman’s home, leading detectives to believe he had killed McIntyre. He lived in a house across the street from the victim’s home.
Police have still not publicly released a motive in McIntyre’s death, saying after the killing that it may always remain elusive.
Gale McIntyre, sister of retired Bristol police Capt. Dan McIntyre, was remembered by her neighbors as a kind, friendly woman who always said hi or waved.
Aaron Hernandez commits suicide
The once-promising football player, who grew up right here in Bristol and made it all the way to stardom playing for the New England Patriots, took his own life on April 19. This was five days after he was acquitted in a 2012 double slaying in Boston, Mass.
Hernandez, who was 27, had an appeal pending in his conviction of the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée. His death brought a media frenzy to Bristol, where dozens of reporters and photographers staged across the street to cover his services at the O’Brien Funeral Home on Lincoln Avenue.
The 27-year-old’s suicide also resulted in his murder conviction being vacated, through a Massachusetts law that reverts a case to its “beginning” if a defendant has not exhausted all appeal options.
Toddler killed in horrific accident
A 21-month-old child lost his life on April 30 while his father was moving a vehicle in the driveway of the family home on Sycamore Street. The boy’s death drew a heartfelt reaction from the community, including amemorial of toys, stuffed animals and candles.
Neighbors collected donations to cover the funeral expenses and prepared meals for the toddler’s family.
Neighbors also organized a vigil where more than 100 community members turned out to remember the toddler. There, the father of the boy, who did not wish to be identified, appeared to fight back tears when he spoke briefly and thanked everyone who attended.
The father was never charged, as police said nothing about the accident appeared criminal in nature, calling it “an unfortunate accident.”