Bennington emergency vehicles on scene at the Route 279 overpass that crosses Chapel Road in the hours following Elton Dowd, 19, jumping to his death Feb. 20. 

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

BENNINGTON — More of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 19-year-old Elton Dowd the evening of Feb. 20 have been revealed.

The Bennington Police Department’s investigation has concluded that Dowd engaged in a “suicide pact” with a friend, who is not being identified out of respect for the privacy of the survivor and the family.

Bennington Police determined that the two made the pact and identified the location they would jump from during a trip from Dowd’s hometown of Worcester, Mass. to the survivor’s home in Southern Vermont.

“At some point during that two and a half-hour ride, the decision was made that they were going to jump,” said Bennington Police Det. Sgt. Jason Burnham, lead investigator in the case.

After thorough examination of the evidence, police concluded that the survivor reconsidered their decision in the final moments before jumping. Police also confirmed that the survivor is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

“You have one person that dies, and one that survives,” said Bennington Police Lt. Camillo Grande. “So there was a lot of work, a lot that the investigators had to look into to determine that this was a suicide pact.”

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

Over a month later, despite being able to work out the more concrete facts of the case, Grande and Burnham are still at a loss in determining what could have brought the two to such a grim resolution. Searches through the victim’s and the survivor’s electronic devices revealed no evidence of any planning prior to the car ride.

“It’s not clear on the ‘why.’ It’s not clear why they made this pact. The survivor’s dealing with their own issues surrounding this and the trauma attached to it, and their family is doing their best to meet those needs,” said Grande. “And there is just no ‘why.’ It’s just something that they both somehow made this decision to do this.”

As is so often the disconcerting reality, it also doesn’t appear that those close to Dowd imagined such a drastic step.

“In talking to the father of the victim, there were no indicators that this was coming,” said Burnham.

“There were a lot of positive factors in the victim’s life,” added Grande. “A lot of new things. Good things. A new job, a new house. (Burnham) has been investigating this for well over a month now, and it’s just a lot of unanswered questions and you’re left there shaking your head.”

Anyone experiencing a mental health situation, such as depression, can reach out for help by calling the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline by dialing 988.

Tory Rich can be reached at trich@manchesterjournal.com.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us.
We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.