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Friend charged in N.H. deaths

Couple had helped suspect

By L. Finch
Globe Correspondent / June 27, 2011

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A 24-year-old man arrested Saturday on murder charges in the deaths of a New Hampshire couple was a longtime friend of the victims, living with them at the house in Grafton, N.H., where their bodies were discovered, a mutual friend said last night.

Robert LaCombe Jr., who was arrested in Randolph, Mass., faces two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of William Hatch, 24, and Crystal Farnham, 23, whose bodies were found early Saturday.

LaCombe had been good friends with Hatch since middle school, said Deon Ellis, 24, of Canaan, N.H., who said that he, LaCombe, and Hatch all attended Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan and considered themselves brothers.

Recently, LaCombe had been unemployed, and his friends were trying to help him get back on his feet, Ellis said. Ellis said LaCombe had stayed with him for about a month until he asked him to leave and he moved in with Hatch.

Hatch and Farnham were in the process of asking him to move out when they were killed, Ellis said.

“Don’t get me wrong, [LaCombe] was my brother, too,’’ Ellis said. “I never expected anything like this.’’

Ellis said LaCombe had called him Saturday from the Comfort Inn in Randolph and sent a text message that repeatedly said, “I love you.’’ Ellis said he alerted police, who moved in to arrest LaCombe.

LaCombe was scheduled to be arraigned in Quincy District Court today on charges of being a fugitive from justice, as authorities seek to return him to New Hampshire, said the Norfolk district attorney’s office.

LaCombe has been charged in New Hampshire with two counts of second-degree murder. Autopsies are expected to be performed today on the bodies of Hatch and Farnham.

Hatch, a carpenter, and Farnham, who worked at a local nursing home, had dated since high school and were living together in a house on Island Road, Ellis said.

They both worked long hours, but loved what they did, he said. Hatch was even helping Ellis build his house; they had planned to start work on the roof soon, he said.

Outgoing and loyal, Hatch would not hesitate to help out a friend, Ellis said. He also loved the outdoors, and when they were younger they would scale mountains together just so they could sit at the top and enjoy the view, Ellis said.

“He’d go out of his way for you, no matter what,’’ Ellis said. “He was the first to make you laugh when you were down.’’

Farnham was similarly big-hearted, many times becoming upset when the patients she cared for died, he said.

“There’s no way to wrap my head around this,’’ Ellis said. Hatch would “give you the shirt off his back, and now he’s gone.’’

They were both fun-loving, hard-working people, said Carissa Bly, 24, of Sunapee, N.H., who went to high school with the couple and LaCombe. “They were good kids, great people, I’m speechless.’’

L. Finch can be reached at lfinch@globe.com.