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Mother drowns daughter, hangs herself, authorities say

Associated Press, various media in the U.S.A. and Canada, February 14, 2005

EPPING, N.H. USA— An Epping woman who apparently was depressed drowned her daughter before committing suicide by hanging herself, authorities said Monday.

The terse announcement of the autopsy results for Tonya Neihart, 32, and Alexa Neihart, 6, made no mention of possible motive.

"Alexa was drowned in the bathtub and ... Tonya went downstairs and hanged herself in the garage," Assistant Attorney General Karen Huntress told reporters.

She said the mother left no suicide note, but investigators "found there was some depression involved here." Huntress did not elaborate.

The bodies were found by an unidentified family member Sunday night.

Neihart and her daughter moved to the Plumer Court housing complex in November from Nottingham, said condo association treasurer Geri Fichera, who recalled that Neihart said she was separated from her husband and that she and her daughter would be living alone.

Tonya Neiharts brother and stepfather died in 2001 and her mother died in 2004, according to obituaries in the Portsmouth Herald. The obituaries also named a sister, Rolinda Desjardins of Portsmouth, a husband, Jonathan Neihart of Nottingham.

Calls to the home of a Jonathan Neihart in Nottingham were not answered Monday.

Tonya Neiharts cousin, Gregory Locke of Kittery, Maine, told The Associated Press the couple had a history of splitting up and reconciling and that Tonya Neihart had told her husband in August she planned to leave him.

"The day of (her mothers) funeral, she told him she was divorcing him. There was a big scene," Locke said.

Records at Derry Family Court show the couples divorce became final in September.

Tonya Neihart worked for an airline in Manchester, her cousin said.

Neighbor Angela Garniss said she was "horrified that it happens next to you house. Just cant believe something like that can happen next to where you live and when a little child is involved its pretty upsetting."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.