Derrick Shippee

Shippee

Vermont’s chief medical examiner has revised his conclusion about the death of the suspect in a 2019 double-murder in Hinsdale, stating that he now believes Derrick Shippee died by suicide.

Shippee, 28, was found dead on his relatives’ property in Vernon, Vt., on April 12, 2019, shortly after New Hampshire authorities announced he was wanted for the killings of Aaliyah D. Jacobs, 19, and Neal R. Bolster, 29, in Hinsdale a day earlier.

An autopsy found fentanyl and other drugs in Shippee’s system, and the Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner initially ruled his death an accidental overdose.

The office changed that conclusion after the release last Friday of a two-year-old affidavit written by Todd Faulkner, then Hinsdale’s police chief. The affidavit, which had been under seal until then due to an ongoing investigation, mentions several witnesses who described Shippee saying things on April 11 that indicated he planned to die by overdose.

The medical examiner had not been aware of that information until The Sentinel reached out for comment last Friday, a spokesman for the Vermont Department of Health said. On Thursday, the spokesman, Bennett Truman, told The Sentinel that Chief Medical Examiner Steve Shapiro had updated the death record after reviewing the affidavit.

“Although the levels of illicit drugs in Mr. Shippee’s blood are not orders of magnitude higher [than] levels seen in other accidental overdoses and there is no way to explain how he ended up at his final location of death, it is my opinion based on the affidavit that Mr. Shippee traveled to VT to end his life,” Shapiro wrote in a notice amending the death certificate.

Jacobs and Bolster were found shot dead in Bolster’s home on Plain Road in Hinsdale on April 11, 2019. One person told police that, later that day, Shippee told him Bolster had owed him money, according to the affidavit.

The same man reported driving with Shippee to his grandparents’ junkyard in Vernon, and said Shippee produced hundreds of bags of heroin and said he wasn’t going back to jail, according to the affidavit.

That night, police responded to the junkyard after hearing from family members concerned Shippee was going there to overdose, according to the affidavit.

Shippee’s father showed a New Hampshire state trooper a text message that, in Faulkner’s words, “indicated that Derrick SHIPPEE was going to overdose and kill himself, and something to the effect that he was being blamed for killing someone.” An ex-girlfriend of Shippee said he called her that evening to say, “I love you, I’ll see you on the other side,” according to the affidavit.

Though Shippee died before he could be tried for the murders, the N.H. Attorney General’s Office said it remains confident he was the killer.

Shippee’s death certificate lists a Westmoreland address, though one of the people interviewed by police said he was living in Keene.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS