By Marjorie Nesin
---- — GLOUCESTER — The District Attorney’s office remained silent Tuesday about the ongoing investigation into a death outside a building in the Pond View Apartments complex over the weekend, and police have yet to make an arrest.
But a neighbor and witness who heard a crash and saw the aftermath said Tuesday the incident was tied to a domestic dispute.
“What we heard was a loud smack, almost like a meat packing sound,” said Scott Hufschmid, who lives next door to the victim’s girlfriend and next to the parking spot where the incident allegedly occurred. “The sound that we heard was actually pretty prominent, enough for me to look outside.”
When Hufschmid peeked out his window in the wee hours of last Saturday morning, he spotted a man later identified as Michael J. Linscott, the 29-year-old Salem man who would be pronounced dead at Addison Gilbert Hospital, on the ground in a Pond View Apartment parking spot with an address of 29 LePage Lane — not 39, as has been reported. LePage Lane loops around the back side of the Pond View complex off Essex Avenue in West Gloucester.
“He was laying on the ground, he was bleeding really bad out of his left side. I heard him gurgling,” said Hufschmid, who had run outside to assist Linscott.
Police arrived on scene shortly after the incident about 1:45 a.m. Sunday, followed by Gloucester fire paramedics. Officers questioned all witnesses there, then transported 43-year-old James Hayes of Haverhill, who had been driving the silver Dodge Avenger that reportedly struck and/or ran over Linscott, to the Gloucester police station for a 4 a.m. interview.
Police Chief Leonard Campanello Tuesday continued to decline comment, and referred all inquiries regarding the ongoing investigation to the Essex County District Attorney’s office. Carrie Kimball Monahan, speaking for the office of Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, also declined any comment on the case Tuesday, saying the office would not comment during an ongoing investigation.
The DA’s office has not defined the investigation as criminal, but continues to refer to it as an “incident” — not as an “accident” — that led to Linscott’s death. Monahan also declined specifically to give any sense as to why the driver was released from custody after he was questioned by police; she has maintained that driver has been “cooperating” with authorities in the probe. She and the office have declined to even name Hayes as the driver.
Immediately after the crash, Linscott’s girlfriend, who lives in the apartment complex with her 3-year-old daughter, rushed out of her apartment, running toward Linscott and screaming for help, as Hufschmid tried to apply pressure to Linscott’s side, Hufschmid said. Linscott had been visiting his girlfriend at the complex that night.
Hayes, the driver, is the 3-year-old’s father, according to Hufschmid, and had driven from his home in Haverhill to pick up the girl about 1:30 a.m., after he had grown concerned about the child’s safety. The toddler was in the vehicle during the incident, as Hayes had already retrieved her from the home. But Hayes reportedly became engaged in a dispute with Linscott at the car’s window, Hufschmid said.
Hufschmid’s story confirms stories that others have told the Times.
Hufschmid said he hardly knew Linscott, whom he had only begun to notice in the area in the past couple months. But, he was acquainted with Hayes, who used to visit his child and her mother at the apartment next door.
“He seemed like a fairly decent father,” Hufshmid said of Hayes. “I’m next door and I’ve never really heard them argue. He was very pleasant. So it was all just kind of a shock to me.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.