Shelter-in-place issued in Gardner as search continues for man sought in wife’s death

Local News

Breanne Pennington was found dead in her home by police Sunday morning. They are searching for her husband, Aaron Pennington, who is considered to be “armed and dangerous.”

The home at 42 Cherry St. in Gardner, Massachusetts, where Breanne and Aaron Pennington lived. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

Gardner officials are asking residents in the area of Kelton Street to stay in their homes until further notice, issuing a warning to shelter-in-place as police continue to search for Aaron Pennington, the 33-year-old husband of Breanne Pennington, 30, who was found dead in her home on Sunday. 

Breanne Pennington was planning on leaving her husband and taking her children with her, according to court documents. Her death, which the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office is now calling a homicide, was caused by a gunshot wound to the face. 

Police have been searching for 33-year-old Aaron Pennington in connection with the 30-year-old mother’s since they discovered her body in the Penningtons’ Cherry Street home. He should be considered “armed and dangerous,” and anyone who sees him should contact police, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said Sunday. 

So far, court documents show that Aaron Pennington is facing one charge – carrying a firearm without a license – which was filed Monday. But the criminal complaint against him reveals much about the situation leading up to police finding his wife’s body. 

What court documents say about the case

Just before 9:15 a.m. Sunday, a neighbor of the Penningtons called 911 after the Penningtons’ four children came over to her house, court documents say. The children were “scared because they could not find their father and their mother was in her bedroom crying.” 

First responders got to the home just before 9:20 a.m. and found Breanne Pennington lying in a bed in an upstairs bedroom “with obvious signs of death from an apparent gunshot wound to the face,” court documents say. Gardner police officers did not find anyone else in the house. 

Through interviews, investigators learned that “Breanne Pennington and Aaron Pennington had been dealing with marital issues for quite some time. Breanne Pennington had plans of moving to Texas with the kids to be away from Aaron Pennington. Aaron Pennington suffered from mental health issues and had threatened suicide,” court documents say. 

Investigators also learned that Breanne Pennington kept a gun at her home for protection, and that her husband did not have a license to carry a firearm in Massachusetts, according to court documents. 

Security camera footage and a canvass of the neighborhood indicated that Aaron Pennington left his home in his 2013 white BMW 320 around 8:50 a.m. Sunday, court documents say. The children went over to the neighbor’s house at 9:07 a.m. 

Investigators later obtained a search warrant and were able to search the home. Inside, they did not find a gun, but did find three spent shell casings in the bedroom, according to court documents. 

What’s next

The Penningtons’ children, ages 2, 5, 7, and 9, are now in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families. 

Police are still searching for Aaron Pennington for questioning about his wife’s death, and there is a warrant out for his arrest on the firearms charge. On Sunday, District Attorney Early said Pennington was both a person of interest and a suspect in the case. 

Pennington is described as a white man with blonde hair and blue eyes. He is approximately 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds. 

Authorities said early Monday they believed Pennington could still be driving his white BMW, using one of three different license plates. Those plates are a Massachusetts veteran’s license plate that reads 8A30, a Texas plate that reads DTZ3103, or a California plate that reads 6CWN728. 

WBZ reported on Monday evening that police found the BMW on the Gardner-Ashburnham line in the area of Camp Collier, a Boy Scout camp, but Pennington was not in the vehicle.

Gardner resident Aaron Pennington, 33, is wanted for questioning in connection with the death of his wife. He is believed to be driving a white BMW. – Worcester County District Attorney’s Office

Anyone who sees Pennington or has information about the case is asked to call state police at 508-829-8326.