COOS COUNTY, N.H. — A New Hampshire couple has been charged in the death of the wife’s lover, who authorities allege she decapitated at the insistence of her husband.
Armando Barron, 30, of Jaffrey, is accused of fatally shooting Jonathan Amerault, 25, of Keene, according to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.
“Investigators have determined that Armando Barron lured Jonathan Amerault to Annette Wayside Park in Rindge, New Hampshire, in the overnight hours between Saturday, September 19, 2020, and Sunday, September 20, 2020,” Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald and New Hampshire State Police Col. Nathan A. Noyes announced in a news release.
Amerault, who was reported missing Sept. 21, was found dead the following day in Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant, an isolated township on the Maine state line in Coos County. He had been shot three times.
According to his obituary, Amerault was a biomedical manufacturing engineer. He was an avid sports fan and loved the outdoors.
“He loved spending time outdoors, whether it was hiking, snowmobiling, skiing or riding an ATV,” the obituary said. "He was an active member of the region’s hiking community, sharing advice and stories from his endeavors on social media.
“He had climbed 66 of the region’s 67 mountains over 4,000 feet, including all 48 in New Hampshire. In addition, he had also hiked all but one of the 100 highest peaks in New England.”
Armando Barron is charged with capital murder for killing Amerault while engaged in the commission of a kidnapping, authorities said.
His wife, Britany Barron, 31, is charged with three counts of falsifying physical evidence.
A defense lawyer argued last week at Britany Barron’s arraignment that anything she did was out of fear of her husband.
“Armando beat her severely and threatened her,” attorney Richard Guerriero said during the video hearing obtained by WMUR in Manchester.
An arrest warrant obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader states that detectives who interviewed Britany Barron observed bruising around both of her eyes and burst blood vessels in her left eye that left it bloodshot. She also had marks on her neck consistent with strangulation, a bruised nose and a chipped tooth.
The injuries to her eyes are visible in her booking photo.
Guerriero also argued that his client cooperated fully with authorities and helped them solve the crime.
Assistant Attorney General Scott Chase argued against downplaying Britany Barron’s participation in the grisly slaying “beyond just cleaning up physical evidence” of the crime. He also argued against bail, out of concern she might further try to hide what her husband allegedly did.
“After driving Jonathan’s body nearly 200 miles north from the crime scene, in Jonathan’s own car, deep into the North Woods, the defendant decapitated Jonathan, wrapped his head in a tarp and placed it in a grave in order to prevent investigators from identifying Jonathan if his body was ever found,” Chase said. “The defendant then wrapped Jonathan’s body in a tarp and dragged him deeper into the woods, where investigators found him in a shallow brook.”
“Had this defendant successfully destroyed that evidence, her husband, the alleged murderer, may very well have evaded detection and/or apprehension.”
The arrest warrant states that Amerault’s mother, Justine Amerault, reported him missing on Monday, Sept. 21 after he failed to show up for work at Teleflex Medical in Jaffrey. In a Facebook post, she wrote that he was believed to have gone hiking over the weekend.
She updated the post on Sept. 22, before her son’s body was found, to say that he had been seen hiking on Saturday but that his hiking gear was back at his home.
“So it looks like he came home and went missing in southern (New Hampshire),” she wrote.
When Keene police officers went to his home on the day he was reported missing, there was no sign of Jonathan Amerault or his gray Subaru Impreza.
Editor’s note: The following story contains graphic details.
According to state police Sgt. Stephen Sloper, detectives reached out to Teleflex officials and learned that Amerault was not the only employee to miss work that day. Britany Barron, described as a “close co-worker” of his, also failed to show up.
Investigators went to the Barrons' home, where they spoke to Armando Barron’s mother, who lives in an adjoining home that shares a kitchen with her son and daughter-in-law’s residence. She told them the couple had also gone hiking while she babysat their children, Sloper wrote in the arrest warrant.
On the night of Sept. 21, detectives returned to the Barron home and found Armando Barron there, driving a Jeep Patriot belonging to his mother’s boyfriend. Britany Barron was not with him.
Armando Barron said he had not seen his wife since early the morning before.
“Armando Barron said he dropped Britany off on the side of the road at Temple Mountain in Temple, New Hampshire,” the warrant states. “He stated that when he left her, she allegedly told him that she was going camping with friends.”
Barron told police he drove around for hours, despondent over the state of his marriage. He specifically said he’d driven to Errol, nearly 200 miles from Temple.
A friend of Britany Barron showed police text messages from the missing woman, in which she spoke of moving to New Mexico to start over and not being able to see her children any time soon.
“The text messages also indicated that Britany told Jonathan that she could not speak with him any longer and that she was taking some space from Armando Barron,” Sloper wrote. “Britany would not tell her friend where she was.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, state police investigators received data pertaining to the location of Britany Barron’s cellphone, as well as Amerault’s phone. The data showed that his phone started out in Keene on Saturday and moved into the Jaffrey area that night.
The phone was using a cell tower that services the neighborhood the Barrons live in, the warrant states.
The phone’s last ping was around 2:52 a.m. on Tuesday.
Britany Barron’s cellphone was located near Temple Mountain on Saturday night, but moved into Jaffrey about 90 minutes before Amerault’s did.
“Both Jonathan and Britany’s call detail records indicated that their cellular devices appeared to be moving in tandem” on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, Sloper wrote. Amerault’s phone stopped communicating with the tower in the early morning hours.
Around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Britany Barron’s phone pinged on cell towers in the Errol area. Data showed it moved into the Dixville Notch and Colebrook areas Monday morning, but returned to Errol around noon and stayed there until nearly 6 p.m.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, New Hampshire Fish & Game officers, tipped off by hunters, came upon an illegal campsite in the woods off Abbot Brook Road in Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant. A dog barked at them as they approached.
Britany Barron was there and emerged from a beaten path to the right of the tent at the site. She had a pistol in a pouch around her midsection, the warrant states.
To the left of the tent was something covered by a large brown tarp. Sticks and branches covered the tarp in an apparent effort to hide it.
The officers told Britany Barron she was trespassing by camping there and ordered her to pack her belongings.
“I’m in big trouble,” Britany Barron told the officers as she walked alongside them toward their vehicle, the warrant states.
One of the conservation officers, upon returning to the campsite to retrieve the dog’s carrier for Barron, spotted drag marks in the mud.
“Shortly thereafter, one of the officers looked up and saw a bound object wrapped in a second tarp that was in a small brook,” Sloper wrote. “The object appeared to be in the shape of a body.”
The officers handcuffed Britany Barron and took her to the Berlin Police Department for questioning.
They returned to the scene, where they found Amerault’s Subaru hidden under the brown tarp. The car was mostly empty but a camping chair in the back had apparent bloodstains on it and it appeared as if a bloody object had been pulled from the back of the vehicle.
“Later, a New Hampshire state trooper arrived to determine the condition of the object believed to be a body wrapped in the tarp in the brook,” the warrant states. “At one point during this examination, the trooper saw blood pour out of the tarp into the water.”
Additional troopers, as well as an assistant deputy medical examiner, responded to the scene, where they further examined the body and determined the head was missing. The injury to the neck was consistent with the head having been removed with the blade of a saw.
State police investigators interviewed Britany Barron at the Berlin Police Department, according to Sloper.
Barron told detectives her husband had searched her cellphone that Saturday and learned she was having an affair with Amerault. He then proceeded to beat her in their home, she said.
“She suffered multiple injuries to her eyes, and her nose was bleeding from the assault,” the warrant states. "He then brought her to the bed and continued to punch her in the face.
“He pulled out a gun and placed it into her mouth.”
Armando Barron choked his wife until she lost consciousness, authorities allege.
“Britany saw that her 9-year-old daughter recognized that Britany had been assaulted,” the document says. “Britany attempted to communicate to her nonverbally that she was injured and in danger. Britany believes her daughter recognized this.”
When questioned by police later, the couple’s daughter said she heard her parents arguing in the bathroom but did not witness the fight because her grandmother moved her into a different portion of their connected homes.
Overnight on Saturday into Sunday, Armando Barron used his wife’s cellphone to message Amerault and lure him to Annette Wayside Park near Jaffrey, Britany Barron told authorities.
When Amerault arrived, Armando Barron “violently assaulted” him before placing a handgun in his wife’s hand, covering her hand with his own and ordering her to shoot the injured man, the warrant states.
“Britany Barron would not place her finger on the trigger,” Sloper wrote.
Armando Barron then ordered his wife to put her foot on Amerault’s throat and crush it. She told detectives she put her foot on his throat but refused to add pressure.
“Armando ordered Jonathan at gunpoint to get into the rear of his car through the back hatch,” the warrant states. “When Jonathan was in his car, Armando Barron ordered Britany to slice Jonathan’s wrists with small blade he detached from his machete. Britany complied and made cut to Jonathan’s wrists.”
The husband and wife then got into Amerault’s Impreza, at which point Armando Barron turned toward the back where Amerault lay.
He fired three shots into Amerault, two to his chest and one to his head. Britany Barron explained that her husband’s gun, what she called a “judge gun,” was capable of firing multiple calibers of ammunition.
“Armando Barron then ordered Britany to go back to their house to pack for camping,” the warrant states. "After Britany packed, Armando ordered Britany to drive Jonathan’s Subaru with Jonathan’s body towards Errol, to an area near where they had camped numerous times, while he followed behind in his Jeep.
“He communicated to her that once the sun came up the next morning he would forgive her.”
At a store in Errol, Armando Barron bought two tarps, lighter fluid, Scrubbing Bubbles cleanser and a shovel, his wife told detectives. They then drove into the woods.
“Armando Barron ordered Britany to cut off Jonathan’s head so that he could not be identified through dental records, while he dug a grave for the head,” Sloper wrote. “Fearing Armando Barron, Britany removed Jonathan’s head using a saw left at the campsite and smaller blade to finish the cut.”
Amerault’s head was wrapped and buried in the grave, which was then covered over with dirt, authorities said.
An autopsy performed after Amerault’s head was discovered showed multiple injuries, including bruising to his face and inside his mouth. A shoe impression was found on the right side of his face.
Amerault’s cause of death was determined to be the gunshot wound to his head, the warrant states.
After burying Amerault’s head, Armando Barron ordered his wife to wrap the body in a tarp and begin digging a grave for it. Meanwhile, he left to buy groceries and a different shovel.
On Monday, Armando Barron drove into Keene to send text messages from Amerault’s cellphone to make his loved ones believe he was alive and safe. When Barron returned to the campsite, he said he’d heard from his mother that police had shown up looking for Britany Barron in connection with Amerault’s missing person report.
Armando Barron took his wife into an area with cellphone service, where he ordered her to send the texts telling her friend she was leaving to clear her head. He also stopped the car and smashed Amerault’s cellphone on a rock.
They then scattered pieces of the phone out the window of the moving Jeep, the warrant states.
“Armando Barron drove Britany back to their campsite. Armando Barron told Britany he had to go back to the house and told her that she better have the disposal of Jonathan’s body completed when he got back on Friday,” Sloper wrote.
He left his wife at the campsite with his Taurus Judge handgun, which was used to kill Amerault, for protection against wildlife. He also left her with a smaller 9 mm Walther pistol, which she had in the pouch around her waist when wildlife officials found her.
The Judge was found in a backpack at the campsite. The five-shot revolver had two live rounds and three spent shell casings in its cylinder.
The spent casings consisted of two .45-caliber casings and one 9 mm casing, which matched Britany Barron’s statement to detectives, according to the warrant.
Other evidence found at the campsite included the couple’s bloody clothing and a poncho covering bloodstained tools, including a saw, a machete, a hacksaw and a small knife, Sloper wrote.
Britany Barron was able to point out to investigators the rural location where her husband had made her throw out pieces of Amerault’s cellphone, which were found and collected as evidence.
The night of Sept. 22, a state police investigator spoke to Armando Barron by phone. When asked to come into the Jaffrey police station to discuss his wife’s disappearance, Barron “became defensive and said he did not want to.”
He said he could not go to the station because he was going camping in Errol with the couple’s 9-year-old daughter so he could explain what the investigator interpreted to be the couple’s possible impending divorce.
“Armando Barron also said that he had been fired from many jobs before because he just didn’t show up, and no one came looking for him like they were looking for Britany,” the warrant states.
Sloper wrote that he offered to meet Armando Barron halfway but Barron refused, saying he didn’t want his daughter to see him talking to police. He eventually agreed to go to the Jaffrey Police Department but said it would take him a couple of hours.
He never showed up. The Jeep he’d been driving that weekend was found abandoned in a parking lot in Jaffrey, with mud and apparent bloodstains inside. It was impounded as evidence.
A second vehicle belonging to Barron’s mother’s boyfriend was missing from outside the family’s connected homes. Armando Barron was later found driving the Toyota Tundra, with the couple’s 9-year-old daughter riding as a passenger in the vehicle.
Armando Barron was arrested for the assault on his wife and taken to a state police barracks in Twin Mountain for questioning. When he was taken into custody, he was wearing clean clothes but had dried blood on his arm and the back of one leg.
He refused to speak to investigators, the warrant states.
Inside the Tundra, detectives found three bags of quick-dry concrete, two 40-pound bags of topsoil, a shovel, a 5-foot metal frame and a tarp covering more bags of concrete and topsoil.
Barron’s mother had told authorities they planned to stockpile food due to COVID-19 and bury the groceries in concrete at their campsite, the warrant states. She said she accompanied her son to Home Depot on Sept. 22 to buy supplies.
Investigators found no food in the truck with those supplies, however.
At the direction of Britany Barron, investigators found a burn site at the campsite where Armando Barron allegedly burned several of Amerault’s belongings, including his credit cards, his car’s manual, a garage door opener and his identification.
They were also able to find, with her help, the path at Annette Wayside Park where Armando Barron had assaulted Amerault, Sloper wrote. The ground was disturbed by signs of a struggle, including bloodstains.
Both Armando and Britany Barron pleaded not guilty Friday as they were arraigned in Cheshire County court. Armando Barron, who is being held without bail, remained in the Cheshire County Jail on Thursday, according to records.
Britany Barron was not listed as an inmate, but a judge ordered her remanded without bail at her arraignment.
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