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Father at the center of NH Amber Alert accused of shooting his children's mother to death

Witnesses describe moments when father at center of NH Amber Alert was captured
Witnesses describe moments when father at center of NH Amber Alert was captured 02:40

BERLIN, N.H. - The death of a mother in New Hampshire and the desperate search for her two young children sparked an Amber Alert Friday. The two girls were found safe and their father, 37-year-old Dustin Duren, is now facing a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of his children's mother. 

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said it all began with a suspicious death Thursday night. Police found the body of 31-year-old Caitlyn Naffziger in an apartment on Main Street in Berlin. Her two children, a 4-year-old girl and a 1-year-old girl, were missing. That set off the search for her two children and their father. 

Police sealed off the home on Main Street in Berlin, New Hampshire, March 1, 2024. CBS Boston

In an audio recording between a police dispatcher and officers, a warning can be heard saying that Duren is a Marine veteran suffering from PTSD.

As part of the investigation, authorities issued an Amber Alert asking for the public's assistance," Formella said in a statement.

New Hampshire State Police released photos of all three and the car Duren may have been driving in the alert, which was issued around 4 a.m. Friday. They said Duren "may possibly be armed and dangerous," but did not offer any other details.  

Amber Alert canceled

More than six hours later, New Hampshire State Police canceled the Amber Alert. Formella's office said all three "were safely located late this morning in Keene, New Hampshire." Keene is about three hours southwest of Berlin. The car was seen being towed away from an Applebee's restaurant parking lot in Keene.

It's not clear yet where or how they were found. No details have been released yet on the mother's death. When asked if Duren was charged with anything or in police custody, Formella's office told WBZ-TV he was only "with police" in Keene.

"Additional information is expected to be released this evening regarding the ongoing suspicious death investigation," Formella's office said in a statement.

Dustin Mark Duren New Hampshire State Police

Berlin is in northern New Hampshire about three hours north of Boston. 

"The Department of Justice greatly thanks the public for their assistance in this matter and their responsiveness to the alert issued earlier by the New Hampshire State Police," the attorney general said.

Investigators say tips from the Amber Alert led them to Duren's white Subaru near a restaurant in a shopping plaza in Keene. Witnesses described a dramatic scene. 

Witnesses describe arrest

"About three cop cars that came racing in here, cops jumped out of the car immediately, had their guns drawn," said Elizabeth Everitt. "I did see the officer drop their weapon and then I believe they tackled him to the ground," she said.

Witnesses saw the children being carried into an ambulance. "She looked like she was extremely scared. She was kind of wrapped up on the side of them all, just kind of holding on tight," said Cassandra Plankey.

"It's very traumatic to watch something like that happen in real-time," said Tonya Hansen, who recorded video of the Duren being taken into custody. "The little ones were clearly distraught in this situation, so it was a little rough to watch. It was scary to watch police draw weapons on someone in public."

When it was all over, Tonya, who's a nurse, offered officers snacks and blankets for the little girls who'd been through so much.

"I just wanted to make sure they were feeling secure and safe and the officers did a great job of cuddling them and keeping them calm through the process," said Hansen.

Father of girls involved in NH Amber Alert charged with murder of girls' mother 04:54

New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Bethany Durand said the children are now in state custody, but she can't discuss what the girls went through. 

"Can't indicate whether they were present when their mom was shot, I can say they were found, they are safe and they're being cared for," she said.

Prosecutors say the medical examiner completed an autopsy on Naffziger's body Friday afternoon. It showed her cause of death was a gunshot to the head. Duren is set to be arraigned on Monday.

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