Police continue to probe death of man in shed

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Jan. 12, 2008

OLD SAYBROOK — Police continue to investigate a death deemed “untimely and suspicious,” after an autopsy Thursday produced inconclusive results.

On Wednesday, officers found the body of Jeffrey William Stark, 44, inside a shed behind a house at 26 Boston Post Road.

Lt. Michael Spera said Stark had been living “for some time” in a 4-by-8 shed that “had been converted into an illegal residence.”

He added that the shed had a bed and electricity, but no running water.

An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was inconclusive pending toxicology results, which could be available in three to four months, Spera said.

Police consider a death suspicious “when all the facts and circumstances don’t lead to a natural cause,” Spera said.

“It might wind up being, at the end of the day, a natural death. It’s our job as the local police agency to do our proper due diligence on any death investigation.”

The property owner at 26 Boston Post Road is Charles Barnes, according to police. On Friday, calls to a listed telephone number for Barnes were not answered.

Spera said it appears that Barnes and Stark were friends. He said he could not release information about who found Stark’s body, and the department is continuing to investigate when he was last seen alive.

“We’re still looking into … whether or not he paid rent, whether he was a true tenant,” he said. “Things like that are all part of the investigation.”

Spera added that, “due to unsuitable conditions found on the property,” the Police Department sought the help of town departments including the Building Department and fire marshal’s office, as well as regional public health enforcement officers and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Barnes may face administrative sanctions from those agencies, Spera said.

Rachael Scarborough King can be reached at rking@nhregister.com, or 789-5742.

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