Authorities release details from the Kelsey Clifford homicide investigation in Athol

“Keith Hamel is the last known person to have seen Kelsey Clifford alive."

When police found 26-year-old Kelsey Clifford dead outside an Athol wastewater treatment plant during the early morning hours of Monday, Nov. 11, her body was laying face down.

An official with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner eventually flipped her over and found she “had multiple stab wounds to the left side of her face and behind her left ear,” according to a statement of facts document from Athol police.

That was just one of the gruesome discoveries authorities uncovered investigating the young Leominster mother’s homicide.

Keith Hamel, 23, of Athol, is now being charged with Clifford’s murder. He was arraigned in Orange District Court on Tuesday and is being held without bail until a probable cause hearing set for Feb. 14, according to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

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Here are some other details in police’s statement of facts:

  • Hours before Athol officers found Clifford’s body, someone known to authorities walked into the town’s police department at 4:58 a.m. on Nov. 11 and reported suspicious activity in the area near the treatment plant. The witness told a dispatcher “that there were multiple individuals sleeping in the tall grass with a vehicle parked in the area of 69 Jones St, Athol, MA [the address to the treatment plant].  An officer was dispatched to the area but did not observe anything,” according to the document.
  • Police went back to the area after someone called them at about 6:59 a.m. that morning to say there was a vehicle with its doors open parked there and someone laying on the ground.  When multiple officers went to the scene, they found Clifford laying face down, naked from the waist down. “That female was in the grass just outside of the driver side of the vehicle and both doors to the vehicle were open,” the document says. “There appeared to be blood on the vehicle and on the shrubs in the area of where Ms. Clifford’s body was located.  That female was later positively identified as Kelsey Clifford (DOB 10/20/1993), the registered owner of that Acura RSX bearing MA PC 5YY869. Ms. Clifford was pronounced dead on scene by ambulance personnel.”
  • Athol police on scene called in state police detectives at 7:23 a.m. Authorities from the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner were also called. A medical technician from the medical examiner’s office was the one who discovered the stab wounds. Authorities also found the keys to Clifford’s vehicle underneath her body. “Once rolled onto her back, it appeared that Ms. Clifford had multiple stab wounds to the left side of her face and behind her left ear,” according to the document. “In that area of her face there was severe trauma and it was unknown what was used to cause the puncture wounds.”
  • Officials spoke with multiple witnesses, all of whom were known to authorities. They discovered that Hamel was allegedly with Clifford during the early morning on Nov. 11. “Keith Hamel is the last known person to have seen Kelsey Clifford alive,” the document says.
  • Authorities found surveillance video that shows Hamel get out of Clifford’s vehicle at a Cumberland Farms on Main Street in Athol around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 11. “Hamel is seen on the video to have gone into the Cumberland Farms and purchased Newport cigarettes,” according to the document. “No one exits the driver’s side door of Ms. Kelsey Clifford’s vehicle while Hamel is inside making the purchase. Hamel returned to Ms. Kelsey Clifford’s vehicle and re-entered the passenger side front seat and the car left the area.”
  • Later that day, someone known to authorities called police at 4:35 p.m. and said they found a bloodstained sweatshirt in a bush on Leonard Street. Police contacted state police’s Crime Scene Services, and authorities from there took the garment. “The sweatshirt is described as a three tone hooded sweatshirt being grey on the top, a white horizontal stripe in the middle and a black stripe on the bottom,” the document said. “That sweatshirt’s location was in close proximity to where Ms. Clifford’s body was found at 69 Jones St. (less than one mile) and also in close proximity to Mr. Hamel’s residence (approximately 1.1 miles) located at 123 Silverlake St.  The sweatshirt was found to be in-between both the crime scene and Mr. Hamel’s residence and on a roadway that could be used to travel from the Crime scene.”
  • DNA samples taken from the sweatshirt were found to match Clifford and Hamel. Hamel was arrested soon after authorities were given this information. Police found Hamel at 500 Main St. in Athol, and he was arrested around 4:40 p.m. on Monday, the document says.