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Murder charges for suspect accused of strangling New Hampshire student

  • Missing Student_Leff.jpg

    Oct. 15, 2012- Seth Mazzaglia, bottom center, is seen during his video arraignment from the Strafford County jail in Dover, N.H. to the district court in Dover.AP

  • Slain College Student_Leff.jpg

    FILE photo shows Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott.AP2012

A martial arts instructor accused of strangling or suffocating a University of New Hampshire student said, "Things are really good," three days after the woman's death and the day before his arrest, an acquaintance said Monday.

Seth Mazzaglia, of Dover, was charged Saturday with second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott, of Westborough, Mass., who vanished a week ago and whose body has yet to be found. Mazzaglia didn't speak during a brief arraignment via video feed Monday, and his court-appointed attorneys didn't object to the prosecutor's request that he be held without bail.

Marriott, who was living with an aunt in Chester, N.H., and commuting to the university in Durham, was last heard from Tuesday, the day that authorities say Mazzaglia killed her. She attended a class that night and made plans to visit friends in Dover but never showed up. Her cellphone was last used in Dover that night, according to fliers that family members posted, but authorities said her car was found several miles away in a parking lot on campus in Durham.

Family and friends spent several frantic days searching for her before charges were announced over the weekend. Police have not said what led them to arrest Mazzaglia or how he knew Marriott.

The 29-year-old Mazzaglia graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2006 with a degree in theater and was known as the "go-to guy" for fight choreography in the area, said Craig Faulkner, producing artistic director at Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth.

Faulkner said that he's known Mazzaglia for several years because Mazzaglia has auditioned for acting roles at the theater but that he hadn't seen him in about a year, until he felt a tap on his shoulder while shopping in Best Buy in Newington on Friday afternoon.

Mazzaglia was working in the store's video game area, Faulkner told The Associated Press, and they chatted for about 20 minutes. Mazzaglia was upbeat, telling him that he also had a job at the Garrison Players Arts Center in Rollinsford.

"I just asked him, `How are things?' He said, `Things are really good,"' Faulkner said.

Faulkner described Mazzaglia as a quiet, respectful guy but also as someone with a nerdy vibe that makes him a bit of "an odd duck."

"He's just a little unusual. ... I don't really know how to explain it," he said. "You don't meet him and go, `Wow, that guy's a murderer."'

Faulkner said he never ended up casting Mazzaglia, called him more of a character actor than a leading man. He said Mazzaglia is known as the "go-to guy" for fight choreography in the area and has an advanced black belt designation.

Faulkner said he was later playing the video game Mazzaglia sold him when he heard news of the man's arrest.

"What I thought about is, I shook his hand two times and if he actually did this. It was one of those, Are you ... kidding me moments," Faulkner said.

Friends and family have described Marriott as a fun-loving, trusting young woman with a wide circle of friends who was active in chorus and a prom queen in high school. She was a marine biology major who loved animals, volunteered at the New England Aquarium and helped put herself through school by working at Target.

Ken Ziniti, a store manager at the Target store in Greenland, said Marriott was one of the nicest young people he's met.

"Put a smile on everybody's faces," he said. "She worked all over the sales floor, always out in front of the guests."

University of New Hampshire professor David Kaye, who once taught Mazzaglia in an acting class, said Monday that he had been a hard-working student who had a special interest in stage combat. He said people at the school feel for the victim's family and are shocked and saddened by what's happened.

"Everybody is sort of reeling from all of this news," he said.

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