Public Safety

Police fatally shoot ex-boyfriend after missing Massachusetts woman found dead in Brattleboro

Local and state police closed the entrance to All Souls Church in West Brattleboro on Tuesday night after shooting a man they were seeking earlier in the day in connection with the suspicious death of a missing woman. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger
Matthew Davis. Photo courtesy Vermont State Police

Updated at 10:19 a.m. on July 20.

Police fatally shot a “person of interest” during an investigation into the suspicious death of a woman found inside her truck on Elliot Street in Brattleboro, according to a Tuesday night press release from Vermont State Police.

Police shot and killed Matthew Davis, 34, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. His body will be taken to the Vermont Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Burlington for an autopsy to confirm the cause and manner of his death.

Police said earlier they were attempting to find Davis, who was the former boyfriend of Mary Anderson, 23, of Harvard, Massachusetts, whose body was found in Brattleboro at about 12:55 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Davis was found walking in West Brattleboro at about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, police said in the release. Police said members of the Vermont State Police and the Brattleboro Police Department were attempting to speak with him when police shot him.

Vermont State Police said the circumstances of the man’s death are under investigation, including “which officers discharged their weapons.” 

The fatal shooting occurred in a wooded area between Bonnyvale Road and South Street, southwest of Western Avenue, the main thoroughfare through West Brattleboro, police said. 

According to a state police press release, a detective with the Vermont State Police was conducting a neighborhood canvass when he recognized a person who fit Davis's description walking on Western Avenue. 

Members of the Vermont State Police and Brattleboro Police Department rapidly responded to the area, and were on the scene when police shot Davis. Two troopers and a Brattleboro police officer fired their weapons in the encounter with Davis, who was armed with a knife. Two detectives with the Massachusetts State Police also were in the area. 

Residents of Brattleboro’s Elliot Street woke Wednesday to a burlap-and-lace bow memorializing the spot where police, armed with spray paint, investigated the death of a missing woman found in a parked truck the day before. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

Police administered first aid to Davis and called for an ambulance, but he was pronounced dead on the scene. The knife was located near Davis's body. No other injuries were reported.

Under the standard protocol for shootings involving the Vermont State Police, the circumstances under which Davis was shot are being actively investigated by the state police criminal division who are assigned to offices elsewhere in the state, to avoid potential conflicts of interest. 

Investigators remained at the scene early this morning. Further details will be released as the case continues, police said.

In accordance with regular procedures, the identities of the officers who fired their weapons will be released today, the day after the shooting. The state troopers will be placed on paid administrative leave for a minimum of five days. When the Vermont State Police investigation is complete, the case will be turned over to the Vermont Attorney General's Office and the Windham County State's Attorney's Office for independent reviews of the police use of deadly force.

Police have not released any information about Anderson’s cause of death and said that investigation “remains in its early stages.”

Anderson was last seen alive in Hudson, New Hampshire, late Saturday night. Her family reported her missing the next day. 

On Tuesday, Harvard police were investigating the area around Anderson’s house in connection with Anderson’s disappearance and death.

Vermont State Police said they were working on the investigation with Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver, Brattleboro police, Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney's Office and the Harvard Police Department.

Erin Lynch, an Elliot Street resident, said police had taped off a portion of the street near Thomas Lynch Park, including a portion of the park itself. She also said a tent was set up next to a car adjacent to the park. 

“It’s a little scary,” Lynch, 24, said on Tuesday morning. “A lot of people think it's not a good neighborhood, which, you know, it's fine. Like, we haven't had any problems here. We’ve lived here for two years.”

A Vermont State Police trooper stands guard Wednesday at the entrance to West Brattleboro’s All Souls Church, where authorities fatally shot a man the night before during their investigation of the earlier death of a missing woman. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

Some 12 hours later, Mark Hermanson and Carl Steiner were running a wood splitter about three miles away in West Brattleboro when something pierced the mechanical noise.

“We could hear boom, boom, boom, boom,” Hermanson said.

“I said, ‘Sounds like fireworks,’” Steiner said.

When they saw police cruisers arrive, they knew it was something else.

Local and state police closed Brattleboro’s Elliot Street on Tuesday to investigate the suspicious death of a woman found in a truck. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

Stay on top of all of Vermont's criminal justice news. Sign up here to get a weekly email with all of VTDigger's reporting on courts and crime.


Ethan Weinstein

Send us your thoughts

VTDigger is now accepting letters to the editor. For information about our guidelines, and access to the letter form, please click here.


Recent Stories

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Police fatally shoot ex-boyfriend after missing Massachusetts woman f..."
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.