The Elusive Identity of Alice

{There Hasn't Been an Obituary For Alice Keyho}

By Lara Bricker

Hampton Union, Friday, April 2, 2004

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

There hasn't been an obituary for Alice Keyho.

To me, that's very sad. It's almost like she didn't exist. The only other time I can remember someone who didn't get an obituary in our paper, it was a homeless man who was hit by a train in Newfields last year.

In the midst of the media circus involving the arrest of Alice's sister, Helen Garland, who allegedly beat Alice before she died, it's my job to remind people of the essence of this sad story - that a real person is involved. A real person died.

But we know very little about her.

Understandably, Alice's family is devastated by her death and the possible involvement of Helen. Their names are known only to police, prosecutors, Judge Francis Frasier and Helen. Judge Frasier sealed their names at the request of prosecutors.

A representative of the Remick & Gendron Funeral Home in Hampton said Alice's niece didn't want any information released about her aunt, including an obituary. The family has held a private funeral already. If they do decide to release an obituary in several months, it will be in the paper in North Andover, Mass., where they live.

I started calling people in Hampton last week to find out about Helen and Alice. Neighbors knew Alice by sight but didn't think she lived with her sister any more because they hadn't seen her in months. Women who knew Helen from her various civic involvements had only met Alice briefly and said she was very quiet.

The only people I found who knew Alice were the women at Marguerite's Beauty Salon, where she occasionally had her hair done. They described her as a sweet little old lady. She loved going to get her hair done and would have liked to go more often.

Although the identity of Alice's relatives in North Andover was not known, I figured there must be some other relatives who could talk about her. The last name Keyho, a variation of an Irish spelling Keough, is extremely uncommon. Because of the miracles of the Internet, I located the address and phone number of each of the 20 Keyhos in the United States.

There was one in a suburb of Boston and so I called. Yes, she was related to Alice, the man who answered the phone told me. But, no, she didn't want to talk to me.

And so began my frustrating search for someone who knew Alice. I talked with Kevin Keyho, a criminal-defense attorney in Pittsburgh, who didn't know of any relatives in New England. The only Keyhos he knew of were in Pittsburgh, but he suspected Alice must be a distant relative owing to the rarity of the last name.

I talked with Elaine Keyho in Houston, Texas. She used to be the only Keyho in Texas but now there's a whole herd, she said, including Linda Keyho in Humble, Texas - who also didn't know Alice. The only relatives she had were in Atlantic City. Elaine's father, C.J. Keyho, called me back after his daughter told him about my call. He has been searching for other Keyhos his whole life and only found one other branch of the family in New Orleans. I left messages for the Keyhos in Rancho Santa Margari, Calif.

Of all the Keyhos in the country, no one had heard of Alice or any relatives in the Boston area.

And so I moved on to Garlands. The only other Garland in Hampton is a teacher, who said she is definitely not related -- something she had to tell her frightened students Monday morning. Other Garlands in Exeter, Portsmouth, Salisbury, North Andover and Newburyport were not related. Apparently there are several different Garland families in this area, none of whom is related to the others.

When I was done with that portion of the exhaustive search, which I was glad was not on my phone bill, I was even more struck by the tragedy of this case.

Here was a woman, who died a horribly sad death, and no one could talk about the person she was. What did she like to do? Where was she from? Why was she living with Helen in the first place? Was she lonely? What had she done during her life?

Maybe we will find out more about her when the case goes to trial.

Until then, I will keep asking strangers on the other end of the phone, did you know Alice?

Lara Bricker is an assistant editor and staff writer for Seacoast Newspapers. She can be reached at