Two years after her father's homicide, daughter keeps asking ‘Why?’

  • Natashia Guzman appears on the screen of a smartphone during a recent interview, the first time she has spoken publicly about the death her father Wilfred Guzman Sr. who authorities allege was murdered. Friends on hand for the interview, from left are: Katie Hand, Jayme Roy, and Karen Vaillancourt. Michael Mortensen / Laconia Daily Sun

  • Wilfred Guzman Sr., left, and Hassan Sapry pose for a photograph while on a hike in the White Mountains. Sapry has been charged with killing Guzman in April 2019. Courtesy

The Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 6/30/2021 5:01:09 PM

Just hours after Natashia Guzman learned on April 19, 2019, that her father, Wilfred Guzman Sr., had been found dead in his Blueberry Lane apartment after an obviously brutal struggle, she reached out to her friends to share the tragic news. One of the people she called was Hassan Sapry.

“He was shocked and surprised,” she said of Sapry’s reaction to the news. “He said he couldn’t understand how something like that could have happened. He comforted me, actually.”

“I sent him a picture of me, dad and him hiking,” Natashia recalled during her first interview since her father’s death more than two years ago. “He replied on Friday, and Saturday, and early Sunday morning, but afterward he stopped replying to me.”

Hours after that last communication, investigators interviewed her at the Laconia Police Department. During that interview she learned that authorities wanted to question Sapry about her father’s murder.

Five days later, on April 26, Sapry was arrested. The following Monday, Sapry waived arraignment on a charge of first-degree murder and was ordered held in preventive detention in the Belknap County Jail, where he has been ever since.

For more than two years now, Natashia has been trying to make sense of the allegations against Sapry – whom she considered a good friend – as well as adjusting to the loss of her father, who was her world.

She has struggled to cope with the periodic news stories that were published as state prosecutors repeatedly asked for and received the court’s permission to take more time before presenting their case against Sapry to a grand jury for an indictment. That indictment finally came two months ago when Sapry was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, falsifying evidence, and credit card fraud.

A few days after the indictments were issued, the court unsealed a lengthy document that detailed how Wilfred Guzman died.

The news story, published in The Daily Sun, about the contents of that affidavit was the first time she heard just how horrible her father’s death had been.

“When I picked up the paper I had a panic attack,” she said during a lengthy interview she gave last week, along with friends Jayme Roy, Katie Hand, and Karen Vaillancourt. Hand, Roy and Vaillancourt gathered in Hand’s Lakeport apartment. Guzman joined in via video call from Texas, where for more than a year she has been living with relatives as she tries to put her life back together.

“I have trouble relating to people because of the anxiety,” she said.

But in spite of the continuing grief, Natashia says it’s important for people to know about her father, who loved his family and worked hard to support them.

“He was responsible, hard-working, comedic, disciplined, generous, and kind and warm,” she said.

When Wilfred Guzman Sr. came to Laconia in 2007, it was to visit.

“He fell in love with the place,” his daughter said.

Eventually, he left his job as a baggage handler at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. After he got settled in Laconia, he worked an assortment of jobs. Then he took a job working the front desk at TownePlace Suites in Gilford, where he met Roy. Later he moved on, working as a traveling computer network technician, and in the printing department of the Staples store in Tilton.

Even with the sometimes-hectic work schedule, Natashia said her father was always there for her. He went with her when she got her prom dress, and even accompanied her when she had her nails done.

“I was joined at the hip with my dad,” she said.

Natashia, who is now 22, arrived in Laconia in 2010 and entered the sixth grade at Laconia Middle School. It was there she met Hassan Sapry.

They were both in the same English as a second language class. The students in that class quickly bonded, Natashia remembers, because they were all struggling to become fluent in another language.

But Natashia recalls that Sapry stood out among the group because he was mastering English faster than the rest. Even after their command of English improved, the group continued to hang together because of the shared experience.

Natashia and Sapry were not only schoolmates, but also neighbors. Sapry and his family lived in an apartment in the same complex at 57 Blueberry Lane. Later they moved into a different complex just down the street before eventually buying a house on the upper end of Pleasant Street.

“I knew him for 10 years,” she said. “He was so social, so smart.”

After graduation from Laconia High School in 2017, Natashia attended NHTI in Concord to study nursing. Sapry, meanwhile, enrolled at Lakes Region Community College with plans to become a history teacher, she said.

In addition to her nursing classes, Natashia worked at Genesis HealthCare Laconia Center, a job she left about a month before her father died.

The last time she saw Sapry was in December 2018, four months before her father died, when the two went out to dinner together.

Ghosts from the past

Sapry plans to plead innocent by reason of insanity, which his lawyer says was brought on by the atrocities he saw firsthand when he was a young boy living in his native Iraq. And it was during that time that Sapry’s father was kidnapped before eventually being released after the family paid ransom.

Natashia said though Sapry was outgoing and talkative, he spoke very little about his past.

“He said his father had worked for important people and that they had to come here for protection,” Natashia said. “Other than that he said, ‘I don’t like to talk about it,’ ” she remembered.

She says she has no idea about what could have motivated Sapry to attack her father.

“I was shocked. I couldn’t understand why he was in the (her father’s) house,” Natashia said, recalling her reaction when she learned that authorities suspected that Sapry was her father’s killer.

Now she is struggling to get her life back on track. She is overwhelmed by feelings of loss and of fear.

“My safety net is gone. A lot of things fell on me instantly,” she said.

Vaillancourt, who is Natashia’s aunt, is sympathetic.

“She had to grow up overnight,” she said.

By all accounts, Vaillancourt was one of the last people to see Wilfred Guzman alive.

The last visit

April 17, 2019, was a Wednesday, the day when Guzman typically came over to Vaillancourt’s place to have dinner with her and her two adult sons, Eric and Evan Guzman. But that Wednesday, Guzman brought the cooked food for dinner but did not stay because he needed to go back to clean his apartment because his son, Wilfred Guzman Jr., and his family, were due to arrive on Friday to spend Easter weekend.

Evan went out to Guzman’s car to get the food. Vaillancourt watched from the doorway and waved.

“That was the last time we saw him,” she said.

Wilfred Guzman was killed sometime the next day, according to the murder indictments against Sapry.

Unanswered questions

After the autopsy on Guzman’s body, Natashia went to Wilkinson-Beane funeral home where her father’s body was encased in a body bag.

“They didn’t want me to see him,” she explained.

He was cremated shortly afterward, and Natashia took his ashes to Puerto Rico where his family is from.

Natashia says she still cannot get her head around the fact that Sapry has been charged with killing her father.

“I have no idea (why he may have done it),” she said. “That’s why I hate this waiting.”

No date has been set for Sapry’s trial. The next scheduled court proceeding in the case is a pretrial conference next month.

Whenever the trial takes place, Natashia and her friends say they plan to be there. And they hope that by then all COVID restrictions will have been lifted so they can be in the courtroom with Sapry, and not have to watch the trial via closed-circuit television in another room in the courthouse.

In the meantime, Natashia is trying to move beyond the loss of her father.

“He was the kindest person I ever met. He loved his family. He was my inspiration to go into nursing school to help other people,” she said.

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