Police: Maine woman sent message to family before she was murdered during N.H. standoff
Portsmouth, N.H., Police Department
CONCORD, N.H. — The young woman who was murdered during a police standoff in Greenland earlier this year left behind a final message for her family members.
Police say Brittany Tibbetts, a hairdresser and former star athlete at Noble High School, composed a text message to her mother shortly before she was killed by her one-time companion, Cullen Mutrie.
Tibbetts was being sought by police on drug charges before the fatal shooting on April 12. Mutrie, her alleged accomplice, opened fire on members of the Attorney General’s Drug Task Force when they arrived to arrest Tibbetts and search his home.
After wounding four police officers, Mutrie allegedly fled to the basement, where he shot Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney through a small window. Mutrie subsequently murdered Tibbetts and shot himself.
Following a seven-month investigation into the incident, police released new details about the shooting this week, including the contents of a final text message composed by Tibbetts. It was sent to her mother at 8:08 p.m., according to records provided by State Police investigators, about 90 minutes after Maloney was fatally shot.
“I love u too so much,” the message reads. “More than I’ll ever know we didn’t do anything wrong!! I love u and dad and Linds and gram and gramps soooo much!!! Diesel [the dog] will need you!!! Ok take care of him!!!!! I’m so sorry!!! Good bye!!! 517 post rd Greenland. Take Whiskey [the cat] too bye mom I love you soooo much!!!!!!!”
Tibbetts was a four-year varsity player at Noble High School, graduating in 2004. She was the softball team’s top pitcher for three seasons, including her junior year in 2003, when the Knights enjoyed the best season in school history.
They won the Western Maine Class A title over Scarborough, and lost to Leavitt in the state final in 10 innings. Tibbetts was named Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
“She was a good one,” her former coach remembered earlier this year. “She was just awesome. She worked hard at it. She didn’t walk people and she was always around the plate.”
Just a week before her death, Tibbetts had been at the Fox Run Mall, visiting former co-workers. Tibbetts had worked as a hairdresser at the mall for five years, and had been away for about a year. Friends said she dreamed of opening her own salon while renting a booth at another.
Before the April 12 police operation in Greenland was authorized, a confidential source told police that Mutrie and Tibbetts were involved in dealing upward of 500 oxycodone pills out of the home on Post Road every few days.
According to a sworn affidavit filed by Dover Detective Dev Atma Khalsa, a member of the Attorney General’s Drug Task Force, police were first notified of suspicious drug activity at Mutrie’s home in February 2011. Neighbors told Greenland police they believed Mutrie was distributing narcotics, and that cars were frequently seen coming and going from the residence after staying for a short period of time.
Then in September 2011, a postal inspector conducting a routine review of materials in Portsmouth discovered “a significant number of packages being delivered” to Mutrie’s home from a suspicious address in Florida.
In January 2012, police were approached by an informant who claimed to have knowledge that both Mutrie and his girlfriend were involved in dealing painkillers. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration officers and members of the N.H. Attorney General’s Drug Task Force coordinated with the confidential informant to purchase 10 oxycodone pills from Tibbetts.
The source communicated via text message to arrange a meeting at the Greenland home on Jan. 30. Tibbetts was accused of selling 10 prescription pain pills to the informant during the meeting for $250.
Police have consistently indicated that it was Mutrie, and not Tibbetts, who was responsible for the carnage that unfolded on April 12. Records show that Tibbetts did purchase one of the guns used in the shootings — a .357 revolver — but it’s believed that Mutrie fired the weapon.
“At no time do we have any statements or evidence to suggest that Ms. Tibbetts had either of the two firearms during the course of this entire event,” State Police Sgt. Joseph Ebert, who directed the investigation in the Greenland drug raid, said Friday.
During a press conference in Concord, Ebert revealed a new piece of information regarding the circumstances around Tibbetts’ death. Investigators discovered what Ebert described as a dog leash on her left hand. The finding lends further credence to the belief that she was murdered by Mutrie during the ensuing standoff at the home, Ebert said. Investigators have also determined that Tibbetts was shot at a downward angle, from left to right.
Toxicology testing indicated that Tibbetts had evidence of narcotics, opiates and marijuana in her system. Investigators discovered approximately $14,000 in cash in her clothing.
“Taking the totality of the evidence into consideration, we felt comfortable saying that Ms. Tibbetts death was a homicide as opposed to a suicide,” Ebert said