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Former Police Chief Goes Free After Grand Jury Rejects Murder Charge

May 7, 1988

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ The murder case against a former small-town police chief ended with a grand jury refusing to indict him for the death of his wife’s first husband, who was found buried in the former officer’s yard.

″I feel real fine,″ Robert Chambers, 36, said by telephone from a friend’s home Friday night after the grand jury declined to return a second- degree murder charge. The former Marlow police chief refused to answer any other questions.

Assistant Attorney General Gregory Swope said the case is closed without further evidence. The prosecutor gave no explanation for the action.

In March, state police dug up the body of Russell Bean in Chambers’ yard in Marlow, a town of about 600 people in southwest New Hampshire. Bean was the first husband of Chambers’ wife, Sylvia.

Police began digging after Chambers’ relatives told authorities that Chambers had accidentally killed Bean in a fight. The relatives said Chambers’ father, Clifton, told them shortly before his death March 9 that he helped Robert bury the body using a backhoe.

Police arrested Chambers on April 15 and charged him with killing Bean in 1978, shortly before Sylvia moved in with Chambers. The two married a year later after Chambers divorced his first wife, Deborah Wentworth.

Melissa Chambers, Robert’s sister, told state police in an affidavit that Bean, then 25, died when he fell and hit his head during a fight with Chambers.

After the skeleton was recovered, pathologists determined Bean had been beaten on the head and chest.

According to court papers, the relatives said the elder Chambers had told them not to say anything until after his death.

Assistant Attorney General Gregory Swope presented the case to the grand jury Friday afternoon. It returned its decision that night. Swope declined to say who testified before the panel.

Swope said new charges against Chambers ″would only be warranted if there were some developments in the case.″

Mark Sisti, Chambers’ lawyer, would not speculate whether the case was over, but said, ″I told Chambers to stay in touch with me - constantly.″

After Bean’s body was recovered, Chambers took leave and later resigned as part-time Marlow police chief.

Chambers also was part-time chief in Gilsum. William Hasbrouck, chairman of the selectmen, said Friday that Chambers is on leave from the job.

The affidavits from Chambers’ relatives also alleged that Bean and Chambers swapped spouses, something Sylvia Chambers recently denied. Since Bean’s body was discovered, she has filed for divorce.

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