Update: Steve and Wendy Reid recalled for their love and warmth – ‘They were just a nice couple’
Concord couple Djeswende and Stephen Reid were soulmates who together traveled the world, pursued adventures and supported one another in their work helping others after meeting decades ago in Washington, D.C., their family members said.
Alton Woods residents Stephen and Djeswende, who went by Steve and Wendy, were reported missing last week, days before their bodies were discovered near the Broken Ground trails on April 21. Autopsies showed that both died from multiple gunshot wounds. No arrests have been made.
The unsolved crime has left the city on edge as police investigate.
At-Large City Councilor Fred Keach said he has received calls from city residents concerned about general safety, including one from a constituent living in Alton Woods, the apartment complex off Loudon Road where the couple lived.
“My opinion that Concord remains a very safe place, what happened is completely tragic and my thoughts go out to the family first,” said Keach, who is a former police officer.
Last week, Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward advised residents to be vigilant, but said investigators don’t have reason to suspect the public is in danger.
“I don’t recall a double homicide in the last 40 years,” Keach said. “It’s a very unusual situation, which is why it got so much attention – because it doesn’t happen in Concord.”
In a statement from the couple’s children Brian and Lindsay and extended family, the Reids thanked the Concord Police Department, the New Hampshire State Police, the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General, and New Hampshire Fish and Game for their efforts to investigate the deaths.
Steve grew up in Concord, where the couple returned three years ago to retire. He served four years in the Peace Corps in West Africa after graduating from college at Norte Dame. That’s where he met Cass and Mike Naugle, a couple who were already serving in Niger when Steve arrived in 1979.
Mike called Steve, who taught English classes to middle school-aged students in the town of Madawa, the “epitome” of a Peace Corps volunteer. While all the volunteers learned French, Steve also immersed himself fully in the local language, Hausa. He was honest, hardworking, a good listener and just plain nice.
“I think if anyone would represent our country anywhere, he would be the perfect person,” Cass Naugle said.
In the days before cell phones, Mike would give a bit of extra money to anyone traveling to Madawa to get a message to Steve that the volunteers miles away in Maradi were planning a party for the upcoming weekend. Somehow, the messages always made it through.
“I wouldn’t call him outgoing, he wasn’t the big person at the party or anything like that, but everybody always gravitated towards him because they felt comfortable being around him,” Mike said.
Wendy and Steve met in Washington D.C., where Wendy was studying. Wendy grew up in Togo, Mike said, and spoke Mooré as well as French and English. Steve and Wendy were both great basketball players, and they loved adventure and fitness.
“She was beautiful, inside and out,” Naugle said. “They were so good together.”
The Naugles met Wendy and the couple’s two children at informal gatherings for Peace Corps volunteers that they hosted over the years at their home in Maryland.
The couple lived in Senegal, Chad, and Niger, the Naugles said.
They both worked to help others around the world and in Concord.
“Steve’s thirty-plus year career as an international development specialist in service to the world’s most vulnerable through USAID humanitarian projects could not have been made possible without the love, care and support of Wendy, who also helped recently-resettled refugees acclimate and thrive in the United States,” the Reid family wrote in the statement.
Susan Faretra, who graduated from Concord High School with Steve in 1973, remembered that Steve and Wendy had attended a reunion together decades ago where Steve had been given an award for traveling the farthest distance – from Africa to Concord.
“They were just a nice couple,” Faretra said. “This whole thing is just senseless.”
She said that Steve was a quiet, nice boy who always wore his hair short, contrary to the fashions of the 1960s and 1970s.
Police and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office have not said whether they have a suspect for the double homicide. The Reids left their apartment complex for a walk on Monday April 18, just before 2:30 pm, police said. The Broken Ground trails are about two miles away from the Alton Woods apartments off of Loudon Road where the couple lived.
Family members reported the Reids missing on Wednesday, after Steve failed to show up to his weekly tennis game. When a property manager allowed worried family members into their apartment, there was no sign of foul play, according to an email to the Monitor last week from the couple’s son Brian Reid.
“The bed was neatly made and a window was open. Both their phones are still in the apartment. My Dad’s wallet is also still in the apartment, and both their cars are here,” Brian wrote.
Authorities are requesting that members of the public come forward with any information about the Reids’ deaths. Concord Police are asking that anyone in the nearby area with a video system or game camera to review footage from last week for images of the Reids.
“As requested by the police, we ask for your support by providing any information that would be helpful to the ongoing investigation,” the family said in the statement.
As Cass and Mike Naugle reeled at the news of the Reids’ deaths, they exchanged shocked messages with fellow former Peace Corps volunteers on an email distribution list.
“He raised the reputations of all of us,” one friend on the list wrote of Steve’s international aid career. “Steve didn’t waste any of his 67 years.”
Cass and Mike invited the Reids to their 50th wedding anniversary this coming June, which will double as a Peace Corps reunion. Steve had RSVP’ed to say that yes, the couple would be there.
“The only thing that would prevent us from coming would be another COVID outbreak,” Steve wrote to Cass before his death.
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