Update: Woman found stabbed to death was assaulted by son in January, records say; son arrested in Va.

  • —Courtesy —Courtesy

  • Phillip Nash —Courtesy

  • Frances Nash, a librarian in Loudon, was found stabbed to death in Canterbury. Her son Phillip Nash was arrested Monday night in Virginia after the New Hampshire attorney general’s office issued a warrant on charges that he stole her vehicle. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 5/22/2018 11:07:54 AM

Frances Nash was the person Alicia Grimaldi went to when she needed to talk.

The two had sons in the same class growing up together in Loudon schools, and they spent hours on the sidelines of soccer games; on hiking trails; and drinking tea at the town’s Eggshell Restaurant discussing their kids, their marriages and their spirituality.

But Grimaldi said their conversations had become heavier in recent years, especially the ones about Nash’s son, Phillip.

Phillip Nash, 21, was taken into police custody Monday night after Frances Nash, a librarian in Loudon who lived in Chichester, was found stabbed to death in Canterbury. Police said she had been missing since Thursday – the same day Phillip was released from jail on a previous offense, according to Grimaldi.

Police arrested Phillip in Virginia, where he had fled after being charged with stealing his mother’s car, which was also found in Canterbury.

Phillip was scheduled to be arraigned in Virginia on Tuesday on a fugitive from justice charge and held there while he awaits extradition proceedings, according to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

The head of the state’s homicide unit, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin, is handling the investigation, but Nash’s loved ones are still waiting for charges to be filed in her murder.

As a child, Phillip, or “Phil,” was kind and loving, a good friend and a talented trombone player, Grimaldi said.

But the last few years, he had struggled with a growing criminal record, which includes charges that he assaulted his mother inside and outside her Boscawen apartment this past January, according to court records.

In that incident, Phillip placed his mother in a chokehold inside her vehicle before pushing her out of her car and wrestling her to the ground, court records show. Inside his mother’s apartment, Nash grabbed her by the arms and wrestled her to the ground again to prevent her from calling the police, according to court records. When police arrived, Nash jumped out of a second-story window before he was arrested.

Nash has had several run-ins with police since, including charges of consuming excessive amounts of alcohol while he was still underage, shoplifting cigarettes from Cumberland Farms in Boscawen and criminal trespassing at a school in Manchester, the reason he was most recently jailed.

Grimaldi said Frances did her best to get Phillip help, but it was hard when he was an adult and he did not want to take medication, see a counselor or spend time at an inpatient facility, as his mother suggested.

“He was super-angry when people did try to reach out to him about how he was feeling,” Grimaldi said. “He had huge amounts of paranoia about something being broken or wrong with him.”

After the domestic assault case, Nash was ordered by the court to undergo a mental health evaluation within six months. But when the time came for Phillip to receive that evaluation, Grimaldi said, he was arrested again and the evaluation never happened.

Grimaldi said Phillip’s struggles had been weighing on his mother heavily the last few years.

Frances, known by “Fran” by those closest her, was a librarian and program coordinator at the Maxfield Public Library in Loudon, where she worked for many years.

Fran knew the names, or patron numbers, of hundreds of townspeople by heart, close family friend and co-worker Joli White said.

“She was so positive all the time, and she knew everyone’s story,” White said. “People always wanted to stop and talk with her when they came in.”

Fran also loved being active and outside, White said. She was a fan of meditation and yoga, which she taught at the library a few times a week, hiking and riding her motorcycle. White said Fran often spoke to her about plans to hike all 48 of the 4,000-footers in the White Mountains this summer.

But those closest to her knew that the situation with Phillip was causing a lot of stress.

“The last few years, in the forefront of her life constantly,” Grimaldi said of Phillip’s troubles. “That’s what she was living for, to help manage whatever was going to be best for him.”

The circumstances that led to Frances Nash’s death are still under investigation. State police ask that anyone with information about her activities last week contact them at 271-3636.

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, lwillingham@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)

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