Not as simple as it seems
By Melissa Grimas
While law enforcement seems convinced that local doctor Genevieve Kelley, and her husband Scott, a special education teacher at Woodsville High School, took off with Mary Nunes to protect themselves from prosecution, those who knew the couple say their only motivation was to protect a vulnerable child. The pair took Dr. Kelley’s daughter Mary and disappeared late in 2004, a move that, despite the so-called justification, baffled their families and the small communities in which they worked.
The parents of Dr. Kelley, George and Regina San Martin of Whitefield, said through their attorney John McKinnon of Campton, that they were devastated by the loss of their only daughter and granddaughter. “It’s a very, very sad story,” Mr. McKinnon said. He said that Mr. and Mrs. San Martin have no idea where their daughter is and are aged and have health issues, making this an especially difficult situation.
Mr. McKinnon called the entire case “wrong on so many levels,” and said that although he had never met Dr. Kelley he believed that she had left in panic because she believed that the sexual abuse evaluations she had requested and the court had ordered were not being performed properly. Because he had offered to work pro-bono on behalf of the San Martins only after they claimed they had been harassed and threatened by US Marshals, Mr. McKinnon explained he had limited information on the possible motives for the family to flee.
While the San Martins were not able to provide insight as to how or why things escalated to the point where the Kelleys felt they had to go into hiding with the child, Mr. Kelley’s family offered more explanation. “Something drastic had to happen in their lives,” said Mike Kelley, Principal of Profile School and Scott’s brother. “We think that they left in order to keep Mary safe,” he said.
Mike Kelley said that his family, which includes his mother and two sisters, as well as himself and Scott, were very close. The Kelley family had a history of gathering on a regular basis for cookouts, holidays, and even for an annual memorial golf tournament in honor of their father. The only reason he could fathom his brother leaving with no word and no contact in the four years he’s been gone, is for a righteous cause, he explained. “There’s no possible way he would ever abandon his family unless it was a drastic thing,” he said.
Pat Kezerian of Littleton, a lifetime friend of Scott Kelley’s agreed with Mike Kelley’s assessment. Mr. Kezerian characterized Scott as always being the responsible one in their group of several friends who stayed close long after high school.
Both men agreed that something happened to change Mary about a year before Genevieve and Scott Kelley disappeared with her, which led them to fear for her safety. Mike Kelley characterized the two as doting parents whose purpose in life was to care for Mary. “They were unbelievably responsive parents — their whole life revolved around her,” he explained.
Their responsive nature was truly tested when Mary’s behavior changed drastically after returning from a visit with her non-custodial father (at the time) Dr. Mark Nunes late in 2003, Mike Kelley said. He confirmed that her behavior was the same as what had been documented on the video tapes Scott and Dr. Kelley had made and submitted to the police — the seven-year-old running naked through the house having screaming fits, hiding in closed spaces and urinating and defecating on the floor. “The tape was an accurate picture of what they were dealing with,” he said.
Mike Kelley also explained that he was told by his brother that he and Dr. Kelley were instructed to make the tape by a mental health professional who had been treating Mary for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He said that to the best of his knowledge, throughout 2004 Mary had been going to Concord weekly for counseling after being diagnosed.
Mike Kelley said that due to the change in behavior he had no trouble believing Mary had been molested. “Something happened to throw her over the edge,” he said.
Looking back on that year between the initial allegations of abuse against Dr. Nunes and the abduction of Mary, Mike Kelley and Mr. Kezerian recalled Scott and Dr. Kelley’s hints that things were not going well. Mike Kelley remembered that Dr. Kelley had commented once that if her ex-husband was ever allowed contact with Mary again they would leave.
Mr. Kezerian, who works as the Assistant Postmaster in Littleton, said he believed Scott Kelley and his wife were preparing for the worst. Nearly 10 months before their disappearance, the pair ordered passports. “I don’t think they were planning it all along, but I think they had a ‘Plan B’ in case it didn’t go their way,” he explained.
Scott Kelley was very private, Mr. Kezerian said, but occasionally shared his concerns for Mary. He remembers one particular gathering in 2004 where after being asked ‘How’s it going?’ Scott Kelley responded with “You wouldn’t believe how bad my life is.” Mr. Kezerian said this comment was a direct reference to the struggles Scott Kelley was having with Mary’s odd behavior. He went on to say that Scott Kelley later told him that he truly believed that Mary had been molested by her father and related the challenges that he and Dr. Kelley had worked through for months to try and heal her emotionally.
Mr. Kezerian said he believed the panic came into play, however, when Dr. Nunes requested that he be granted unsupervised visitation with Mary in a filing with Coös Superior Court. (Dr. Nunes had, in fact, petitioned for supervised visits.) Dr. And Mr. Kelley had further become disheartened, Mr. Kezerian said, when they were accused of coaching the child prior to an interview with social services. “I think they may have lost a little faith,” he said.
The threat of Dr. Nunes being allowed to again see Mary and the alleged change from support to accusation by the court and social services is what both men credit with the drastic steps taken. “I think they were so scared they felt they had no other alternative,” Mike Kelley said. “My brother was a pretty meek guy — he didn’t make changes,” he explained, noting how incredibly out of character it seemed to him for two well-respected professionals with close family ties and ties to the community to decide to run away.
“We all have no doubt that he believes what he’s doing is right,” said Mr. Kezerian, adding that he was sure that Scott’s only goal would be to protect Mary. “We totally believe that’s the case,” he said speaking for himself and the rest of Scott Kelley’s friends.
Despite providing possible theories for the disappearance of Scott and Dr. Kelley as well as young Mary, Mike Kelley said he and his family have been baffled by the extreme step. Both he and Mr. Kezerian said that none of Scott Kelley’s friends or family have seen or heard from him, nor do they know where he is. “The whole thing for us is a tragedy,” Mr. Kelley said. “We’ve been devastated by it. My mother’s lost a son and we’ve lost a brother.”
Mr. Kezerian said that the close group of friends that included Scott Kelley has also mourned his loss. The men gather annually at the cemetery to remember one of their number who committed suicide a number of years ago, and now at the meeting they remember Scott as well.