Man, 79, Died from Asphyxiation During Beating at Somersworth Walmart: Autopsy

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Brian Roberge

Attorney General John M. Formella, New Hampshire State Police Executive Major Matthew S. Shapiro, and Somersworth Police Chief Timothy McLin announce that an autopsy was completed today on the body of Jan VanTassel, age 79, of Center Ossipee, New Hampshire.

The autopsy was conducted by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mitchell Weinberg.  Dr. Weinberg determined that Jan VanTassel’s cause of death was due to compressional asphyxia, and that his manner of death was homicide.

On July 15, Brian Roberge, age 52, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, was arrested on one count of second-degree murder pursuant to RSA 630:1-b, I(b) for the murder of Mr. VanTassel.  As a result of the autopsy results, the factual charge against Mr. Roberge has been amended to an allegation that he recklessly caused the death of Mr. VanTassel under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life by means of homicidal violence.  The compressional asphyxia finding by Dr. Weinberg is consistent with eyewitness accounts that Mr. Roberge was straddling Mr. VanTassel’s chest for several minutes while hitting him in the head and face.

Mr. Roberge is expected to be arraigned on July 17, 2023, in the Strafford County Superior Court, at a time to be determined.

Anyone who may have information about the incident is asked to contact New Hampshire State Police Communications at (603) 223-4381, attention Detective Sergeant Justin Rowe.

The charge and allegations against Mr. Roberge are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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