By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — The coordinator of a food pantry frequented by fatal stabbing victim Kevin Paul said he sometimes had black eyes.
When asked about the injuries, Paul said he was having problems with his girlfriend, the coordinator said.
Melissa Ganias, coordinator of the Open Hand Pantry on Ashland Street, said she noticed signs of a troubled relationship weeks ago. She said Paul, 51, would show up at the food pantry with injuries such as black eyes and would say he was having problems with Susan Lovejoy, 64, who is charged with stabbing him to death at her apartment Monday night.
“Kevin would tell me that she threatened to or did call the cops on him,” Ganias said. “I knew of her, but she did not come to the pantry regularly, if at all. Kevin did say there was a problem at home, but there are always two sides to a story.’’
Police and neighbors said there were strong indications the couple argued and used alcohol and drugs in Lovejoy’s apartment. According to a police report, Lovejoy told officers Paul was abusive toward her.
Ganias said Paul began visiting the food pantry as a client several years ago and almost immediately asked to be a volunteer. He would show up every Tuesday morning to help other volunteers unload food from delivery trucks, and then help distribute bags of groceries to needy people. He would also show up on Wednesdays to help distribute food.
Ganias said the organization has lost a valuable and dedicated volunteer in Paul, who got along with everyone. She last saw Paul Wednesday of last week, when he stopped in to help.
“He didn’t have to show up every week and help unload a truck, he just did,” she said. “He was part of our family, a group of people who help the less fortunate, and he was always willing to give back.
“One of the last things he said to me was that he loved me and loved coming to the pantry to be part of what we do,” she said. “He had purpose because he was relied upon.”
Some days, Paul would grab a cup of coffee or a light breakfast at the Community Action drop-in center, next to the food pantry, Ganias said. Both are in the basement of the Universalist Unitarian Church.
Ganias said Paul had children, but that she doesn’t know them or where they live.
“He did speak of his kids in passing, but I never asked him about it,” she said.
Patricia Dennehy, director of Community Action’s drop in center, said Paul often stopped in for coffee or breakfast and conversation.
“He never had any confrontations, always was nice and polite and got along with everyone,” Dennehy said. “I knew Sue (Lovejoy) in my teenage years. She’d pop in every so often, but not on a regular basis.”
Dennehy said a man who knew Paul and Lovejoy as a couple visited the drop in center yesterday morning and expressed disbelief that Paul was dead.
“He said they were at a recent church gathering helping to set up for a function and he gave Sue a Bible,” Dennehy said. “The man was struggling with all of it and asked the question, ‘How can something like this happen?’”