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Possibilities mulled in man’s death

Police have theory about brain injury

Mark Lufkin, seen with his sister Christy Lecuyer, died Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

Mark Lufkin, seen with his sister Christy Lecuyer, died Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

The Concord police say they have isolated an event within the 72 hours before Mark Lufkin was taken to the hospital that may have triggered the traumatic brain injury that resulted in his death. But one month after the homeless man died, officials say that’s only one theory they’re considering.

They’ve declined to say whether any of those possibilities point to wrongdoing. But they have said officials are still waiting on toxicology results and aren’t close to making an arrest at this time.

“Within those 72 hours we do have . . . one possible explanation,” Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said. “But right now we’re not close to being certain that’s the cause. That is a more likely possibility than some of the other theories we have. But we have to explore it more in depth and see if we can pin it down.”

Lufkin, who was living beneath the Interstate 393 overpass before his death at age 39, was taken to the hospital in the early hours of March 5, then transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, where doctors discovered he was suffering from a traumatic brain injury. He died the next day.

Lufkin’s family and friends believe that trauma wasn’t caused by an accident. And this week, as they did shortly after his death, they firmly described the case as a homicide and said they believe charges will eventually be filed.

The police say the investigation is still active, but little new information has come in recently. O’Malley said detectives have interviewed, sometimes repeatedly, any individuals they believe would have knowledge of the situation.

None of that information has gotten them close to making an arrest, according to O’Malley, who said detectives will sit down soon and discuss whether there are unexplored paths.

Detectives have put substantial effort into compiling a timeline of Lufkin’s activities in the days before he died, looking for incidents that could have caused his brain injury, according to O’Malley.

“One of the points we have to discuss (with this) type of injury is how long could he have had that injury,” O’Malley said. “Could he have had it a week, and he could have been walking around with it and it didn’t take its toll until that Thursday night or Friday morning?”

He said if detectives ultimately pinpoint one incident – be it an accident or intended – where Lufkin was injured, they would then ask doctors whether that incident could have resulted in his death. But he added that even medical professionals may not be able to answer that question with complete certainty.

“We’d hope they could tell us definitively, but that’s not always an exact science either,” O’Malley said.

Despite the delay, Lufkin’s family and friends say they have hope that the police will charge someone with causing his death. Several say they don’t believe anyone set out to kill Lufkin but think there may have been an altercation that resulted in his brain injury.

That might not have taken much, according to Kelly Osgood, the sister of Lufkin’s ex-wife who said she is raising his 7-year-old daughter. Osgood, who lives in Belmont, said those close to Lufkin knew that he had suffered head injuries from being in fights when he was younger and that a doctor had once warned him about protecting his head.

“The doctor told him he needed to be careful,” she said.

Even if Lufkin was susceptible to a brain injury, though, Osgood said she still doesn’t think his death was caused by a fall.

“If Mark was so drunk that he just fell down, then people would be saying, ‘Oh my God, he was so drunk he just fell down, and this is how we found him,’ ” she said.

Instead, many who lived with Lufkin believe he died from being attacked.

Earlier this week, at a homeless camp along the tracks near the Holiday Inn, several people said they also believe Lufkin’s injury wasn’t an accident, specifically because they’ve seen people, including Lufkin, tumble and hit their head before without having serious repercussions.

“Mark’s fallen before and gotten right back up,” one man said.

Lufkin returned to Concord a few months before his death after his family had brought him to live with them in Florida, where they say he stopped drinking, got a job and was finding stability. But Lufkin wasn’t happy away from his homeless friends here and felt called to return to Concord to preach about God on the streets, they said.

Back in Concord, he called his mother once a week to check in. Today, Linda Lufkin said she finds herself waiting for those calls and missing his voice.

“He was definitely, you know, one of my children that was the most vocal, telling me how much he loved me and adores me,” she said. “And I’m just missing that.”

She and her husband, Delwyn Lufkin, both said waiting – right now for the finished autopsy and ultimately for answers about their son’s death – is difficult. But they believe the police are taking the investigation seriously.

“None of us can do anything more than what we’ve already done,” the father said. “We’re not going to sweep this under the rug. That’s not going to happen. (The police) are going to be pushing this as far as they can get it.”

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306, tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

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