Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of extreme violence, including of one of the defendants’ account of domestic violence. These details were included as they’re important to the case.
The woman charged with falsifying evidence in the murder of a Keene resident told officers that her husband ordered her to kill the man, and then pulled the trigger himself after she refused, according to an affidavit written by police.
According to the affidavit, Britany Barron, 31, of Jaffrey, told investigators from the N.H. State Police Major Crime Unit that her husband, Armando Barron, 30, also of Jaffrey, used her cellphone to lure Jonathan Amerault, 25, of Keene, to Annett State Park in Rindge during the overnight hours between last Saturday and Sunday. There, the affidavit states, Armando Barron assaulted Amerault and then ordered his wife to shoot him, Britany Barron told police.
Britany Barron told police that her husband had discovered she had been in a relationship with Amerault after going through her cellphone on Saturday, according to the affidavit.
“Britany Barron would not place her finger on the trigger,” the affidavit says, summarizing her account. “When she did not shoot him, Armando removed the gun from her hand.”
Britany Barron said her husband ordered Amerault into his own vehicle, a gray Subaru Impreza, according to the affidavit. She told investigators that once they were all in the car, Armando Barron ordered her to slice Amerault’s wrists, which she did, the affidavit states.
After that, she told investigators, her husband turned around and fired three shots, two of which struck Amerault in the chest, one in the head, Sgt. Stephen Sloper of N.H. State Police wrote in the affidavit.
Amerault had been reported missing on Monday morning after he did not show up to work, State Police said in a news release issued that night, noting that friends and family had not heard from him since Saturday. Amerault worked at Teleflex Medical OEM, a medical supply company in Jaffrey,
Authorities announced Wednesday that they had found a body, later confirmed to be Amerault’s, in northern Coos County.
According to the affidavit, Britany Barron also worked at Teleflex. She called on Monday morning to notify the company’s human resources staff that she would not be coming in and also that she was planning to quit, Sloper wrote.
Britany Barron told investigators that, prior to leaving for Annett State Park, and again during the drive there, her husband assaulted her, leaving her with a pair of black eyes and injuries to her nose, the affidavit states. She told investigators that while still in their home, her husband put a gun in her mouth and attempted to strangle her, Sloper wrote, adding that she said this was witnessed by the couple’s 9-year-old daughter.
After her husband shot Amerault, Britany Barron said, he ordered her to drive Amerault’s car, with his body inside, north toward Errol, to an area where the Barrons had frequently camped, Sloper wrote. Armando Barron followed behind in his own vehicle, a Jeep Patriot, according to the affidavit.
Once in Errol, Britany Barron told police, her husband stopped at a general store and purchased tarps, lighter fluid, household cleaner and a shovel. Then after traveling into the woods and making camp, Britany Barron said Armando ordered her to remove Amerault’s head so he could not be identified via dental records, according to the affidavit. She said she did so, and it was buried separately, Sloper wrote.
At some point, Britany Barron said she saw her husband burn several items from inside Amerault’s car, including his identification, which was later found at the burn site, according to the affidavit.
She told police she was ordered to wrap Amerault’s body in a tarp and dig another grave, and said her husband intended to bring Amerault’s phone back to Keene to send out text messages saying that he was all right, according to the affidavit. Instead, after getting word that police were looking for his wife, the plan changed, Sloper wrote.
“Armando Barron ordered Britany to come with him to an area where there was cell phone service,” the affidavit says. “Shortly thereafter, Armando stopped the car and smashed Jonathan’s phone on a rock. Armando gave part of the smashed phone to Britany.” They threw the separate parts of the phone out of the vehicle from both sides somewhere north of Errol, according to the affidavit.
Britany Barron said her husband then ordered her to send text messages to tell people that she was all right, but would be “leaving for a while to clear her head.” Investigators spoke to a friend of hers, who showed them messages Britany Barron sent between 11 a.m. Sunday and 4 p.m. Monday saying that she would be moving to New Mexico, where her sister lives, to get a fresh start, according to the affidavit.
After discarding the phone, they went back to the campsite and Britany Barron said her husband told her he needed to go back to their house and ordered her to dispose of Amerault’s body before his return Friday, Sloper wrote. He left her with a pair of guns, including the one allegedly used to kill Amerault, saying they were to defend against wildlife, the affidavit states.
On multiple occasions on Sunday and Monday, hunters came into contact with either the Barrons or their campsite, according to the affidavit. On Tuesday morning, two of them went to the campsite and encountered Britany Barron, Sloper wrote. They informed her that camping was prohibited in that area and later they called N.H. Fish and Game to notify them of the violation.
A pair of Fish and Game conservation officers found Britany at the site and advised her that she should not to be camping in that area. They also observed an object under a large tarp and covered with sticks and branches, which was later identified as Amerault’s vehicle, the affidavit states. At one point while packing up the camp, the officers heard her say, “I’m in big trouble,” according to Sloper.
The affidavit says that those officers returned later at Britany Barron’s request to retrieve something from the campsite, and noticed “drag marks in the mud.” One of the officers, according to Sloper, then spotted what appeared to be a body wrapped in a tarp in a nearby brook. She was taken into custody shortly thereafter.
Police made contact with Armando Barron outside of his residence late Monday evening and asked if he knew where his wife was, Sloper wrote. He told them he had last seen her at 2 a.m. Sunday after dropping her off on the side of the road near Temple Mountain, according to the affidavit. He said she had told him she was going camping with friends, the affidavit states.
On Tuesday evening, investigators contacted Armando Barron asking to speak with him about his wife’s disappearance, according to the affidavit. He declined, Sloper wrote, and told police he intended to go camping with his daughter.
“He said he was bringing their 9-year-old daughter to explain, what I interpreted as, that he and Britany may be getting a divorce,” Sloper wrote. He eventually agreed to meet with authorities in Jaffrey, but the affidavit says he never showed up.
On Wednesday, police were at the Barron residence in Main Street in Jaffrey when they learned that a gold Toyota Tundra belonging to Armando Barron’s stepfather, who lives in an adjoined home, was missing, according to the affidavit.
A vehicle matching that description was seen driving through N.H. State Police Troop F’s territory in the northern part of the state. The vehicle was pursued, and police discovered Armando Barron behind the wheel, with his daughter as a passenger, Sloper wrote. He was taken into custody and charged with assaulting his wife, and later for capital murder in Amerault’s death.
Britany Barron has been charged with three counts of falsifying evidence, alleging she mutilated and concealed Amerault’s body and attempted to clean his car, according to the affidavit.
Armando Barron pleaded not guilty and was ordered detained at his arraignment Friday in Cheshire County Superior Court.
Britany Barron also pleaded not guilty and was ordered detained, after an impassioned argument from defense attorney Richard Guerriero, who said his client participated in the crime only because she feared for her life.
“This really started with her being beaten severely,” Guerriero said. “If you look at her face right now ... she still has the bruising on her face and around her eyes and it’s described in the affidavit. Armando beat her severely and threatened her. He put a gun in her mouth, an obvious threat to kill her.”
Assistant Attorney General Scott Chase argued that by Britany Barron’s own statements, she participated in violent actions, including cutting Amerault’s wrists. He also said there were multiple occasions when she could have sought help, such as when she drove Amerault’s car north alone with a cellphone, for a 3½-hour period, or when she encountered hunters near the camp while Armando Barron was away.
Judge Peter Bornstein ultimately agreed with the state and ordered Britany Barron to be held without bail.
During a normal year, Daniella Yitzchak would travel to her hometown in Maryland to mark the Jewish High Holidays at her childhood synagogue with family.
But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Harrisville resident is observing the holidays virtually instead, like many other members of the local Jewish community.
This shift in tradition is certainly different, but Yitzchak said it has also provided her with a new opportunity to mark these holy days.
“The most meaningful thing to me is that on Zoom, I was able to go to the synagogue I grew up in with my mom and sister, and then they were also able to switch over to the synagogue here in Keene,” said Yitzchak, 46.
Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, is one of the two High Holidays. This year, it started this last Friday and ended last Sunday.
The holiday lands on the start of the Jewish month of Tishrei, or Tishri, which falls in September or October, according to the Gregorian calendar. This is the first month of the civil year for Jews or the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year.
Rosh Hashanah is usually celebrated by sharing meals and prayers with friends and family. Prayer services and Torah readings are held on both mornings and the lighting of candles, along with blessings, occurs in the evenings.
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, begins the following week, starting this Sunday and ending Monday.
In the Hebrew calendar, the ninth day of Tishri is known as Erev Yom Kippur (Yom Kippur eve). Yom Kippur itself begins around sunset on that day and continues into the next day until nightfall, and therefore lasts about 25 hours.
Observant Jews will fast throughout Yom Kippur, and many attend synagogue for most of the day.
Yitzchak, who is the office manager at Keene’s Congregation Ahavas Achim synagogue on Hastings Avenue, said the synagogue was holding virtual services for both holy days.
The Brattleboro Area Jewish Community Congregation Shir Heharim is also hosting virtual prayer, according to its website.
Yitzchak said with the Keene synagogue’s services — for the High Holidays and normal weekly services — being online only since March due to the pandemic, she has felt a sense of disconnect from her synagogue and its members.
But during these holy days, she felt it was more important than ever to find a way to reconnect.
“Without having the groundedness of being in the sanctuary, hearing them say prayers, there is a feeling or loss or almost homesickness,” Yitzchak said. “So to be able to see each other’s faces, it makes you feel a little bit more grounded and a little bit more connected.”
This feeling rang true for Keene residents Roye and Elaine Ginsberg.
Elaine, music director for the Keene synagogue, said the Rosh Hashanah service had a “very different” feel over Zoom. But, she said it was well done, and the attendance was actually up slightly compared to other years.
“Most of the [computer] windows were of entire families, or at least two people,” said Ginsberg, 58. “We had about 30 to 75 people in their [computer] windows, and I would say we would usually get over 100 people.”
When it came to delivering the virtual service, Rabbi Daniel Aronson said there are a number of differences.
He said the biggest obstacle is the lack of feedback he gets during a service. And since Aronson started his position at the Keene synagogue in July amid the pandemic, there are only a handful of congregation members he has actually met.
“I don’t have the congregation right there in front of me, and as a rabbi, I like to connect and relate to the congregation,” said Aronson, 56. “That’s a little bit more difficult when they’re on Zoom.”
He added he’s collaborated much more with his lay leaders to ensure the congregation’s needs are being met. For example, rather than having a morning service that is usually several hours long, the synagogue broke up the services this year for Rosh Hashanah and will also do so for Yom Kippur to give people a break from their screen.
Member Melanie McDonald, 42, said despite the changes, the virtual Rosh Hashanah service provided a sense of normalcy.
“This holiday has always been more about ritual and community than a meal with family,” the Jaffrey resident said in an email. “This year, between [COVID-19] and other life challenges, I felt more drawn to the warm community at [Congregation Ahavas Achim] ... It felt “normal” to show up online.”
Ultimately, McDonald said coming together, whether virtually or in person, is what the High Holidays are about.
“While I missed the hugs and nods ... the faces — all so happy to see each other — brought more comfort and reassurance than I could have anticipated,” she said. “The virtual services may have been uncomfortable or ‘too different’ for some, but I believe for many the opportunity to attend remotely opened an important door.”
For more information on Keene’s Congregation Ahavas Achim or its High Holiday services, visit keenesynagogue.org. For Brattleboro Area Jewish Community Congregation Shir Herahim, visit bajcvermont.org.
Jonathan Amerault, the Keene man who authorities say was murdered last weekend, was an active community member while growing up in Milford, according to people who knew him.
Amerault, 25, graduated in 2013 from Milford High School, where he was a captain of the indoor track, outdoor track and cross-country teams, his mother, Justine Amerault, wrote in the Milford Patch that year. He earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award the same year for having contributed more than 750 hours of volunteer work in the community.
Mike Wright, who coached all three running teams at Milford High School for 13 years until his retirement last winter, said Amerault worked at the local Boys & Girls Club after practice. Wright said his daughter, Cassie, was among Amerault’s closest friends in high school.
“They were always just having a good time, joking about stuff that teenagers joke about and laughing,” he said. “They never really had any drama or anything like that.”
So it was a shock to Wright and others when they learned early this past week that Amerault was missing and more recently when state authorities announced he was murdered.
“For someone to do something like that is crazy,” said Danielle Atkinson of New Ipswich, who knew Amerault in high school. “He was such a great guy that it just doesn’t make sense.”
Amerault was also an active member of the region’s hiking community, sharing advice and stories from his endeavors on social media, according to fellow hikers.
He had climbed 66 of the region’s 67 mountains over 4,000 feet, including all 48 in New Hampshire, they said. Amerault had also hiked all but one of the 100 highest peaks in New England.
His final hike, to complete both challenges, would have been Camel’s Hump in Duxbury, Vt., according to multiple people. Atkinson, who described Amerault as an “outgoing, genuine person,” said she plans to hike the mountain in his memory soon.
In 2018, Amerault graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., with a degree in biomedical engineering, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He began working at Teleflex Medical OEM, a medical supply firm in Jaffrey, in January 2017 and most recently was a manufacturing engineer for the company, he said on LinkedIn.
Authorities believe Amerault developed a romantic relationship with a coworker at Teleflex, Britany Barron, according to an N.H. State Police affidavit filed Wednesday. Barron’s husband, Armando Barron, 30, of Jaffrey, has been charged with murdering Amerault at Annett Wayside Park in Rindge overnight between Saturday and Sunday. Britany Barron, 31, faces three counts of falsifying evidence in connection with the case.
Amerault was reported missing Monday after not arriving at work that morning.
He purchased a home on West Diane Drive in Keene in November 2019, according to city records. Wright said it was the first house Amerault owned.
“He was just a really good kid and was doing really well for himself,” Wright said. “Not a lot of kids that are 25 [or] 26 years old are buying their own houses.”