Mystery surrounds ‘severely decomposed’ bodies found in home of Rhode Island’s longest-running mayor

Two “severely decomposed” bodies were found in the home of Rhode Island’s longest-running mayor on Monday, according to officials.

There were no outward signs of foul play or evidence of a crime in connection with the discovery of the bodies at former Woonsocket Mayor Susan Menard’s home on Marian Lane, near Lilac Avenue in Woonsocket, approximately 20 minutes from Providence, police said.

Reportedly those of an elderly man and elderly woman, the bodies were in “in a lengthy stage of decomposition,” making identification difficult, Moonsocket Police Lt. Matthew Richardson said.

“It was unclear whether Menard was one of the bodies. According to a recent obituary in the Providence Journal, Menard’s brother Robert Miller, 81, died Saturday. It was unclear whether one of the bodies was his,” USA Today reported.

Along with Menard, Daniel Grabowski is also listed as a resident of the home, according to The Valley Breeze.

Police were alerted to a possible problem by a neighbor who reported a foul-smelling odor coming from the residence. The neighbor told police that the smell made him realize he had not seen Menard or her husband in “a couple weeks,” according to local news station WPRI.

“Police made a forced entry through a rear window on the first floor and found the woman in one room and the man in another,” WPRI reported.

The bodies were released to the Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s Office for further evaluation, with the cause of death and identification expected as early as Wednesday, Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas Oates said.

Menard is known as Woonsocket’s first female mayor and longest-running mayor, having served the town of 41,000 from 1995 to 2009, but her commitment to service was decades in the making. Menard served on the Woonsocket School Committee and city council before being elected as the city’s highest executive. The Susan D. Menard Middle School was named for the public servant who continued to endorse candidates in her hometown and state after stepping back from politics.

Interestingly, according to The Valley Breeze, Menard’s “only daughter Carrie, with whom she had a close relationship, was found dead in her home near Boston in 2009, leaving Menard devastated.”

“I just think it’s a sad thing to see, that anyone would die in their own home and be unmissed,” one neighbor told WPRI. “Anyone that’s not missed that quickly, that’s a sad thing. That’s a sad thing.”

Many on Twitter expressed sadness that after so many years of service to her community, Menard was possibly left to “decompose” in her home without notice.

“I just find it curious that someone in public life as long as she was would have their absence go unnoticed, even though she remained in the city,” David Pepin wrote. “Not that I blame her for not wanting to be part of Woonsocket’s current toxic political culture.”


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