FATHER's plea in wife's death may resolve son's death


CONCORD, N.H.—The mystery behind the killing of a 4-year-old New Hampshire boy may be resolved when his father pleads guilty to killing the boy's mother.

Thirty-eight-year-old Christopher Smeltzer of Auburn is charged with second-degree murder in the beating and strangulation death of his wife, Mara Pappalardo, last fall

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Police on Nov. 8 also found the couple's 4-year-old son, Mason, dead of ligature strangulation in the family's Auburn home. Seven-year-old daughter Mercey Smeltzer was injured but survived.

No one has been charged with killing Mason and injuring Mercey.

The autopsy report indicates something was tied tightly around Mason's neck to kill him.

Smeltzer is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday in Rockingham Superior Court.

Other court records show that Mara Pappalardo had filed a petition seeking custody of the children two months before she was killed. She told a Salem family court judge she was homeless and living with her mother-in-law, and that she couldn't afford to pay any court fees at the time but would once she was back on her feet. There is no indication the petition was ever served on her husband.

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