Hannah Keyes' cause of death remains unknown

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WINOOSKI — Vermont's Chief Medical Examiner's Office is still trying to determine the cause of a suspicious death for a 28 year-old former Arlington woman, while Winooski police say they are hoping to recover the body of her fiance.

Hannah Maree Keyes, 28, a mother of two young girls, was found dead Nov. 2 inside the basement apartment at 65 Audet St. in Winooski by city police, who were asked to do a welfare check. Coworkers at The Arbors, a senior living complex in Shelburne, were concerned when Keyes failed to appear for work.

Meanwhile her fiance, Keith D. Gaston, 32, of Winooski appears to have taken his own life by jumping into the raging Winooski River, police said. His body had not been recovered as of deadline Wednesday afternoon.

The death of Keyes is considered suspicious. Dr. Elizabeth A. Bundock, Vermont's deputy chief medical examiner, has indicated she has been unable to determine the cause or manner of death tfollowing an autopsy.

It also remained unclear how many days Keyes, a 2010 graduate of Arlington Memorial High School, was dead before she was found.

Dr. Bundock reported the time of death is unknown, but it happened in November. The obituary drafted by her family said Keyes died Nov. 1, which would be one day before she was found by police.

The victim was the daughter of Keith and Gayle Ann Keyes and worked as a personal care associate at The Arbors. She had attended the now-defunct Southern Vermont College and moved to Winooski in March 2019.

Her funeral is scheduled to be held Saturday at the Chapel on the Green in West Arlington. The service is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. with the family greeting early arrivals at 12 p.m. A reception is scheduled to follow at the American Legion Post 69 in Arlington.

A memorial fund in memory of Keyes has been established to support her children. It had a $1,000 goal, but had generated $4,640 in donations from 78 donors as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Donations may be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/hannah039s-girls

The case unfolds

Winooski Police Chief Rick Hebert said his investigators were unable to see any marks on her body at the scene. He said police are still waiting for results of toxicology tests.

The chief said Keyes had no known problem with drugs or alcohol according to reports from her sister, who lives in Chittenden County.

The storm door at the apartment was closed, but the wood door was ajar when police responded about 10:05 p.m. Nov. 2. The two daughters, Ella, 4, and Aliya, 3, were found inside, police said.

Her daughters were checked by the Department for Children and Families and later turned over to a family member, Hebert said.

The Arbors has declined to say how long Keyes had worked at its facility or how long she had failed to show for work.

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A spokeswoman for The Arbors did issue a statement noting the staff and residents were "extremely saddened" by the death of Keyes.

"Hannah was a compassionate caregiver who was much beloved by our residents, their families and her fellow associates. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and children during this difficult time," the statement said.

Gaston, who is the father of her two daughters, was missing when Keyes was found dead, Winooski Police said.

The hunt continued for him until last Friday afternoon when Hebert said investigators had located video of Gaston diving headfirst into the rain-swollen Winooski River the afternoon of Nov. 3.

Hebert said Wednesday afternoon the rain and snow earlier this week would hamper efforts to recover Gaston. It is unclear if Gaston went over a nearby hydropower dam.

"Unless there is a break in the weather, it is a waiting game," the chief said.

He said police hope to be able to narrow down where to look. "There is no good point to start, no target site."

The hydropower workers have checked the dam, but found no clues, Hebert said.

If the body went over the dam, it could end up in Lake Champlain or in a flooded cornfield nearby.

Police first reported they had found Gaston's Volvo parked on West Canal Street near the Woolen Mill Apartments on Nov. 3. Police later collected video from the area, including the Woolen Mill.

By last Friday more video viewed by police show Gaston walking across Main Street and along the Winooski Riverwalk. It showed that he smoked two cigarettes, walked down to the edge of the river and had another cigarette. He is then seen then diving into the river and never resurfacing.

Gaston was last known to work at Global Foundries in Essex, who were tight-lipped when approached by police, Hebert said.

Keyes and Gaston were not on the radar screen for Winooski Police. Police have never responded for calls at the apartment, the chief said.

Bennington Police said Gaston was known to officers over several years. It began when he also was a student at Southern Vermont College and continued until 2018, Police Chief Paul Doucette said.

The charges ranged from supplying alcohol to minors to aggravated assault, Doucette said.

Gaston, who played varsity basketball at SVC, graduated in 2012 with a degree in business administration and sports management.


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