Police: Gardner couple had marital problems before Breanne Pennington was found fatally shot in home

GARDNER, Mass. — A Gardner man who is wanted by police and his wife were having marital problems before Breanne Pennington was found fatally shot in their Cherry Street home on Sunday, according to an application for criminal complaint filed by police in Gardner District Court.

Aaron Pennington, 33, is wanted by authorities for questioning in the death of his wife, 30-year-old Breanne Pennington, which state police are calling a homicide. He should be considered armed and dangerous, according to Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early and state police.

Authorities on Monday found a white BMW sedan believed to belong to Aaron Pennington in a wooded area in Gardner, about three miles from the couple’s home. Residents in the Kelton Street neighborhood were asked to shelter-in-place as investigators combed the wooded area.

In the criminal complaint application, filed on Sunday, police are seeking to arrest Aaron Pennington for unlawfully possessing a firearm or ammunition.

Authorities described Aaron Pennington as a white male with blonde hair, and blue eyes, standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and weighing approximately 175 pounds. Anyone who sees him is urged not to approach him and to call 911 immediately, state police said.

Earlier Sunday, police issued a public alert for his white BMW 320 sedan with a Massachusetts Veterans plate number, later saying Pennington may have attached one of two other registrations with Texas or California plates to the vehicle.

The couple’s four young children, who are ages 2, 5, 7, and 9 and who went to a neighbor’s house on Sunday asking for help, are now in state custody, authorities said.

Breanne Pennington was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the face in an upstairs bedroom shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday, police wrote in their application for criminal complaint.

Investigators did not locate a firearm, but they found three spent shell casings in the bedroom, according to police.

At 9:14 a.m. Sunday, police received a 911 call from a neighbor asking for assistance “after her neighbor’s four children came over to her house scared because they could not find their father and their mother was in her bedroom crying,” police wrote. The children told the neighbor that their father’s vehicle was no longer in their driveway.

Minutes later, at 9:19 a.m., first responders found Breanne Pennington lying in bed in an upstairs bedroom “with obvious signs of death from an apparent gunshot wound to the face,” police wrote. Responding officers searched the house and “were unable to locate anyone else inside the home or any visible weapons.”

Through interviews and video surveillance, investigators learned that the couple “had been dealing with marital issues for quite some time,” police wrote.

“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,” police wrote.

Breanne Pennington kept a firearm at the residence for her protection, police wrote. However, neither she nor her husband, Aaron, were licensed to carry in Massachusetts.

According to police, at approximately 8:50 a.m. Sunday, Aaron Pennington was seen “exiting the driveway at 42 Cherry Street in a white 2013 BMW 320 sedan that was registered to him,” police wrote. “At 9:07 hours, the four children were observed exiting the residence and walking over to the home of a next door neighbor.”

Aaron Pennington co-owns the white Colonial with Breanna Pennington, and bought the home in June 2022, according to city property records.

According to Aaron Pennington’s Facebook page, he is a member of the U.S. Air Force and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Massachusetts State Police at 508-829-8236 or Gardner Police at 978-632-5600.

Breanne Pennington would have turned 31 on Friday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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