WESTMORELAND, N.H. -- A case of mistaken identity landed a local man in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Wednesday.
Walter Field, 48, of Depot Road, was transported to Lebanon with severe head injuries after being assaulted in his home by an unknown person, according to New Hampshire State Police. The attack is still under investigation but state police know the assailant intended to harm not Field, but rather Field’s neighbor. Hospital Spokesman Rick Adams told the Reformer Field’s condition was listed as "fair" as of Friday afternoon.
State Police Sgt. Shawn M. Skahan said the attacker made some statements overheard by one of Field’s four brothers, who were also in the house, and these statements led police to conclude that Field’s neighbor had been the target.
The sergeant said Field, a farmer, answered a knock at the door at 8:30 p.m. He said the attacker asked for the neighbor and assaulted Field with an unknown object when he was told he had the wrong house. Skahan told the Reformer the attack lasted only a matter of seconds before the assailant fled. He said Field’s brothers heard the commotion and came to his aid, not realizing the extent of the situation until the turn on the lights and saw Field on the ground in the doorway. One them then called 911.
Police are trying to determine a suspect and a motive. There is no description of the attacker at this time.
Skahan said the attacker may have been confused because the neighbor’s mailbox is right next to Field’s home. The neighbor and Field are also friends and have been seen together on the front porch of Field’s house.
Skahan also told the Reformer this was an isolated incident and there is no threat to the public. He said the neighbor is being helpful with police and providing them with information. There have been extra patrols in the area as a precaution, he said.
"Mr. Field is a lifelong resident of Westmoreland and is well-known to all of his neighbors and the townspeople," Skahan said. "He is a gentle man who wouldn’t hurt anyone."
He said anyone with information on the incident can call the state police at 603-358-3333.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.