Marital tensions behind N.H. slaying, report finds
CONCORD, N.H. - The man who shot his wife to death in front of her two young daughters during the summer and then turned the gun on himself was reeling from her decision to divorce him, according to a report released yesterday by the New Hampshire attorney general’s office.
Matthew Balch, 22, shot his wife, Sarah, 25, in the driveway of their home June 14 and then killed himself.
The final report found that Balch’s mother had tried to protect her daughter-in-law by driving a pickup between the two but Matthew Balch, toting a rifle, walked behind the truck and shot his wife in the head.
The five-page report paints a picture of a relationship in rapid decline and an abusive man threatening homicide and suicide if his wife left him.
In the weeks before the shootings, friends said their quarrels became more heated. After a weekend when his wife spent more time out with friends than home and told him she wanted a divorce, Matthew Balch tried to win her back, the report said.
On June 13 - the day before the shootings - he sent his wife roses at work and cleaned up the house but she did not come home. He loaded Sarah Balch’s 5-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and their 2-year-old daughter into his truck and drove around looking for her. She did not answer his many calls. Matthew Balch called his mother at 11 p.m. to see whether she knew his wife’s location. Diane Balch told her son the children needed to be home in bed.
Once the two returned home, a quarrel ensued, Balch said. She said that she left the home about 3 a.m. Her daughter-in-law, she told investigators, seemed “cold and done’’ and her son was begging forgiveness.
An hour later Matthew Balch called his mother and told her, “Mom, you better get over here or your grandchildren will wake up to two dead parents.’’ She says she told him to stop being so melodramatic and go to bed.
Diane Balch arrived to find her son walking toward his wife with the rifle.