Crime

Police say a Troy man was arrested Sunday for allegedly stealing evidence from the Newport City Police Department, including narcotics and handguns.

Newport police checked on the evidence locker Sunday night when Probation and Parole officers said they found empty evidence bags in a residence. On their way to the residence, Newport officers saw 19-year-old Mikeal Rivers who was suspected in an earlier incident.

Andy Duback / AP

In his budget address last month, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced that he plans to cut almost $2 million of funding from the Community High School of Vermont, a program that provides high school classes to those in Vermont’s prison system.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Ever since the dawn of DNA technology, lawmakers have sought to collect genetic samples from people that might pose a danger to society. But the newest effort to expand Vermont’s DNA database is facing stiff criticism from personal privacy advocates.

Colchester Police released a set of documents this week that shed more light on the former officer who allegedly stole from the department’s evidence locker to support his heroin habit.

Why Is Vermont Such A Hotbed For Embezzlement?

Jan 13, 2015
Mattvanderlinde / iStock

For the third time in six years, an annual report has named Vermont the state most at risk for major embezzlement cases. Perpetrators face strict penalties, including a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and fines up to $10,000 for each count of theft, according to state law — but that doesn’t seem to be much of a deterrent.

Alpha Gamma Rho

A fraternity at the University of Vermont is one chicken short after a group of three students allegedly stole the bird from the fraternity’s property and then killed it and ate it in a residence hall.

“We raised six (now five) of them for a couple years now between a few of us brothers who feed and let them out each day, and collect their eggs,” wrote Joe Pappas, the president of the Alpha Gamma Rho chapter at UVM. “We are an agricultural fraternity, so of course when this happened we were not happy.”

Fallout continues at the Colchester Police Department after the officer in control of the evidence locker was arrested last month for allegedly stealing evidence to fund his heroin addiction.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan said he’s now had to throw out five drug cases because  evidence against the suspects is missing.

Vermont State Police are investigating what they say appears to be a double murder in Townshend.

Update 4:52 p.m.: Police have identified the two men found dead of apparent gunshot wounds in Townshend Tuesday. Steve Lott, age 60, and his son Jamis Lott, 28, were found dead in Steve Lott's home.

Robin O'Neill, 62, was arrested for what police say is two counts of second-degree murder.

Vermont State Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting in Windsor.

Jose Burgos, 34, of White River Junction was shot by a Windsor police officer Sunday afternoon.

A 13-year-old Hardwick boy whose mother is accused of his murder was formerly in the custody of the state, officials confirmed Friday.

Isaac Robitille died in August after police say his mother and her boyfriend poured vodka into the disabled boy’s IV bag. Walter Richters and Melissa Robitille, both 38, were charged this week with second-degree murder in the case. Isaac Robitille suffered from various medical conditions and disabilities that kept him confined to a wheelchair.

Nina Keck / VPR

Two years ago this week 17-year old Carly Ferro, a popular high school senior in Rutland, was killed by a driver police say was high on drugs.

For a city struggling to come to grips with its growing addiction problem, Ferro’s death was a gut-wrenching wake up call. 

City officials say the tragedy galvanized people from all parts of the county to join forces and fight back in a grassroots effort called Project Vision.

Members of the group meet once a month at a church in downtown Rutland. At the most recent meeting, about 80 people filled the room.

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Schools and a hospital in Morrisville went into lock-down Wednesday after a shooting in the parking lot of Cumberland Farms. By mid-afternoon, police were still looking for the alleged shooter.

Copley Hospital, Morristown public schools, and the private Bishop Marshall School all went into lock-down for a short time after the shooting.

Morristown Police Chief Richard Keith said the lock-downs were lifted shortly after the incident, although the shooter was still on the loose.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Over the past five years, law enforcement agencies in Vermont have invested more than $1 million in technology that gathers millions of data points every year about the whereabouts of vehicles across the state.

The Automated Plate Recognition Systems, or ALPRs, use high-speed cameras mounted on police cruisers that take photos of passing cars and relay them to an in-car computer for analysis. The technology keeps track of every license plate the cruiser passes and checks each against a “hot list” of vehicles, all in real time.

Susan Keese / VPR

In Springfield Monday night, more than 200 people turned out to consider ways to deal with the problem of drugs and criminal behavior in town.

Rutland Police Chief James Baker was asked to come to Springfield to talk about Rutland’s approach to similar problems over the past few years. Baker is also the former director of the Vermont State Police. He said it takes more than police action to deal with drugs and crime. It takes creating an environment that isn’t conducive to illegal activity.

Susan Keese / VPR News

The town of Springfield has been considering an anti-loitering ordinance to help keep drugs and criminal activity off the streets. Those efforts have led to a broader discussion of the town’s problems.

Sitting in the Jenny Wren Café on Springfield’s main downtown street, Kimberly Bombria says she’s seen a lot of gang activity and drug sales. She traces much of the problem to tenants of the building that also houses the cafe.

The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled the state can't collect DNA evidence from suspects in criminal cases unless they've been convicted of a felony.

In a 3-2 decision issued Friday, the court ruled a state law that allowed for the collection of DNA from people charged with felonies after a court decided there was probable cause violated the Vermont constitution.

  Three years ago, Vermont's DNA database law was expanded to include people charged with felonies. Five Vermont trial courts have ruled the law unconstitutional.

Michael Jacques, shown in this 2008 file photo, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the killing of his 12-year-old niece.
Stefan Hard / Times Argus via AP

Buster Olney's comfort zone is anywhere there's a baseball field. The long-time senior analyst and baseball writer for ESPN the Magazine is perfectly at home interviewing the game's biggest stars, or reporting breaking news on trades and free agent signings.

BURLINGTON — The architect of one of Vermont’s most horrific crimes will die behind bars.

Michael Jacques, 48, of Randolph, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Burlington Tuesday to life in prison plus 70 years with no possibility for parole. In August, Jacques pleaded guilty to six federal counts, including kidnapping with death resulting for the 2008 abduction, rape and killing of his 12-year-old niece, Brooke Bennett of Braintree.

Charlotte Albright

Every two minutes, advocates say, an American woman will be sexually assaulted. But the majority of those crimes go unreported to police. Many victims fear reprisal, or worry they will be shamed. Yet last week, about a dozen people walked onto a stage and told stories of sexual assault – their own, or others’ – to a live audience.

The theatrical project was organized by WISE, an advocacy group serving the Upper Valley.

Bob Selby/Angela Evancie / VPR

Law enforcement officials in Vermont and surrounding states say Vermont’s high-profile drug problem is feeding an underground market in which guns, not cash, are the currency.

The trade is fueled by the simple economics of supply and demand. Heroin and other hard drugs are cheaper in urban areas of Massachusetts and New York, while guns are abundant and readily available in Vermont because of the state’s lax gun control laws and Vermont’s culture of hunting and shooting sports.

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