By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
The Manchester mother found dead in her Bodwell Road apartment in December killed herself and caused the death of her two-year-old son, according to a statement released Wednesday by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.
The statement says Mercedes Tremblay, 25, was found on Dec. 14, 2020, with a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Her son, Mason Tremblay, was found with his body pinned between the closet door and doorframe where Mercedes appeared to have shoved the child’s bed against the door of the closet, as though to keep Mason Tremblay inside the closet, according to the statement.
Mason died of compressional asphyxia, with malnutrition being a “contributory cause of death,” according to the statement.
Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Mitchell Weinberg determined Mason Tremblay’s manner of death was homicide.
“Based upon the information available at this time, it appears that Ms. Tremblay caused the death of Mason,” the Attorney General’s statement reads.
Rhonda Wilkins-Hickey, Mercedes Tremblay’s mother and Mason’s grandmother, refuses to believe the Attorney General’s conclusions.
“It’s a pretty sucky (expletive) statement,” Wilkins-Hickey said. “This is the biggest bullshit in the world.”
Wilkins-Hickey discovered her daughter’s body in the apartment after she had cut off contact a few days before.
“I saw my daughter with a bullet hole in her head,” Wilkins-Hickey said.
Wilkins-Hickey said her grandson could not have been suffering from malnutrition as Mercedes Tremblay was an attentive mother concerned about her son’s nutrition. In the days before she stopped contacting her mother, Wilkins-Hickey said Mercedes Tremblay was showing up at odd hours asking to drop her son off to be babysat.
“She did not kill that baby,” Wilkins-Hickey said.
Wilkins-Hickey claims her daughter felt unsafe and she believes a man with criminal ties is behind the murder. She said her daughter must have been trying to protect Mason by blocking him in the closet.
“I’m not stupid. I’m the chief of police’s (expletive) hairdresser,” she said.
Wilkins-Hickey said her daughter had been dead for days when she found her. She did not see her grandson half out of the closet before she left to get help.
“I know my daughter. There is no way she would let that baby suffer,” she said.
Mercedes spent time in the state psychiatric hospital in June. Her mother claims it was a voluntary commitment as Mercedes was trying to get her medications adjusted.
According to Manchester police reports obtained through a right-to-know request, Pierre Brendan, the boyfriend of Tremblay’s mother, Rhonda Wilkins-Hickey, told police he had seen Tremblay be abusive toward a child.
The name of the child is redacted in the police reports, but the reports indicate that the child in question is Tremblay’s son, Mason Tremblay. Brendan told police on May 15 about the alleged abuse.
“Pierre said that he does not know what is wrong with Mercedes or what goes on when they are not at his apartment, but said he finds it odd that (the child) cries and does not want to go with her when she picks him up. He said that (Tremblay) is abusive, but then said she can be verbally abusive and that he has seen her yell at (the child) and roughly pull him by the arm in the past,” Manchester Police Detective Carrissa Pelletier wrote in her report.
Police first got involved on May 7, 2020, when Tremblay allegedly assaulted her mother and Brendan during an incident at Wilkins-Hickey’s apartment. Tremblay allegedly punched and scratched her mother and hit Brendan. The incident ended with Tremblay allegedly grabbing the child and storming out of the house, according to the report. Police reports indicate that the report was referred to the Division for Children, Youth and Families on May 8.
Wilkins-Hickey spoke to Pelletier on May 23 and told the detective that she did not want to press charges against her daughter. Wilkins-Hickey told Pelletier that Tremblay blamed her for the then-ongoing DCYF investigation, and was not allowing her to see Mason Tremblay, according to Pelletier’s report.
Brendan told police that Tremblay was dealing with emotional and mental health issues, according to the reports. Wilkins-Hickey said her daughter was going through “issues.”
Tremblay talked to Pelletier on May 23 and claimed that Brendan and Wilkins-Hickey had been drinking on the day of the incident and she denied their version of events.
“She said she just wants to move past this incident and start over with her son,” Pelletier wrote.
The criminal investigation into the alleged domestic violence incident was then closed, but the status of the DCYF involvement at this point is not known.
Moira O’Neill, the director of the New Hampshire Office of Child Advocate, told InDepthNH.org that her office will be taking a look at the death of Mason.
“This is a tragic situation,” O’Neill said. “The Office of the Child Advocate is reviewing the case.”
O’Neill said that if there is DCYF involvement in a case like this, her office will examine how the agency responded leading up to the death.
“We review the history and determine whether there were any missed opportunities or barriers to supporting families in a preventive way,” O’Neill said.
Tremblay and her mother had a tumultuous relationship, according to court records. Tremblay was charged with two counts of criminal mischief in 2014 for allegedly kicking in a door at her mother’s house. Both of those charges were later dropped.
In 2018, Wilkins-Hickey was charged with simple assault for allegedly punching Tremblay. She was also charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. That case was resolved with prosecutors dropping the assault and resisting arrest charges as part of a plea agreement.
Wilkins-Hickey called her daughter an “above average mother” who started to turn her life around when she had her son.
“She gave me trouble her whole (expletive) life,” Wilkins-Hickey said. “That kid was her rock.”