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Police Searching for Car Owned by North Adams Victim

Staff Reports
An investigator checks for fingerprints on a pickup at the scene. Police are looking for a blue Ford Taurus that is missing from the property.

Update at 11:10 a.m., Sept. 20, 2013: Police are confirming that Depaoli's 2005 Ford Taurus was located in Bennington, Vt. According to the district attorney's office:

"The vehicle was seized Thursday night and was brought back to Berkshire County.  Investigators and Crime Scene Techs will be processing the car for possible evidence in connection with the death of Depaoli."

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are searching for a car owned by the late Ellen Depaoli, whose body was found Tuesday night in her home.

A blue 2005 Ford Taurus with license plate 88ZA27 that was registered to Depaoli is missing from her residence. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the car is asked to call the North Adams Police Department at 413-664-4944.

No information was given about who may have taken the car or if its location is related to a suspect in the homicide. Police had been on the lookout for the Taurus since Tuesday night, according to scanner reports.

The investigation into Depaoli's death is being coordinated through the district attorney's office and very little information is being made public about the crime.

Depaoli, 84, was found by police after a call reporting a death at her residence. Police have not revealed who made the call and there is no information on the police log other than officers and ambulances responded to the scene.

An army of investigators from state and local law enforcement descended on the scene at 409 Walker St. on Wednesday, shutting off the upper section of the residential road until early evening. Depaoli's body has been taken to the chief medical examiner's office in Boston.

A gray 4x4 extend cab pickup was parked in the driveway of the home in front of what appeared to be a single-car garage. The truck was searched and checked for fingerprints later in the afternoon as crime scene investigators moved their examination of the scene outside the single-family home.

Investigators also took all-terrain vehicles to check the trails in the wooded region behind the house that lead to Clarksburg and Vermont.

Depaoli, a longtime supervisor of the Drury High School cafeteria, was reportedly living in the home with a son. Her husband died in 1999.

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North Adams Woman's Death Ruled Homicide

Staff Reports
Police investigators were at the scene of a homicide on Walker Street most of the day Wednesday.

Updated 8:57 a.m., Sept. 19, 2013, with information from latest district attorney release. Rewrite throughout. Original story posted at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are treating the death of an 84-year-old North Adams woman as a homicide and are now searching for her car.

Police received a 911 call at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday reporting a death at 409 Walker St., according to a statement form the district attorney's office.

Officers arrived on the scene to find the deceased, Ellen Depaoli.

On Thursday morning, the district attorney's office released a third statement that states a blue 2005 Ford Taurus, Massachusetts registration 88ZA27, that was registed to Depaoli is missing from her residence. Police are asking anyone who knows the whereabouts of her car to contact the North Adams Police Department at 413-664-4944.

The statement does not indicate the circumstance surrounding Depaoli's death other to say it is "under investigation at this time."

A second statement at 2:13 p.m. on Wednesday from the district attorney states: "Investigators expect an autopsy, to determine the exact cause of death, to be conducted tomorrow at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston."

Police have been tight-lipped about the  incident.

North Adams Police and Ambulance arrived at 409 Walker at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, state police, North Adams Police and Mayor Richard Alcombright were all at the scene, which is near the Clarksburg border.

A vehicle with the chief medical examiner's logo arrived about 12:30 p.m., along with an all-terrain vehicle from the Fire Department. A second ATV arrived shortly after. Both ATVs were driven down by the nearby high tension wires where trails open up north toward Clarksburg and Vermont.

Police declined to comment last night or this morning on what had happened and there was no information on the police log other than officers and the ambulance responded to the home. All questions about the incident are being referred to the district attorney's office.

"I don't want to talk out of turn, this is being handled and communicated through the district attorney's office," said Mayor Richard Alcombright when pressed by media at the scene. He refused to comment on any particulars, including whether there was even a crime committed. "I am not going to comment," he said, referring all communications to the district attorney's office.

He did say officials felt comfortable opening the schools this morning, but declined to say if there was a suspect either in custody or on the run.  

"We did not think there was anything for folks to worry about," he said.

In response to rumors of a perpetrator on the run, the mayor posted on his Facebook page this morning that "there is no imminent threat at this time. If there was, I would communicate that immediately."

The North Adams Schools were in lockout mode during the day. According to a statement on the school department's website: "All North Adams schools are currently enacting heightened security measures as a precaution in light of the tragic death of a local woman last night and the active police response."

None of the schools "are in imminent danger," it continues, however, students were kept inside, exteriors doors were locked and visitors were not allowed in.

Police presence on Walker Street was heavy overnight, with a number of vehicles there in the early morning hours. Attempts to approach the house shortly after midnight were rebuffed. Crime scene tape was stretched across the front yard.

Police had blocked off the street to through-traffic by 10 a.m. Wednesday, diverting traffic across Daniels Road and turning it back below the home.

The single-family home is in a lightly developed residential area. The house was owned by Olympio and Ellen Dickinson Depaoli, according to documents on file in the Registry of Deeds. Olympio Depaoli died in 1999. The couple appeared to have lived in the house since at least 1950; in later years, a son had been reportedly living with her.

Depaoli had run the Drury High School cafeteria for many years.

"She was a wonderful person," said Mary Haley Hewitt, who had worked under Depaoli for 15 years. "She was good to me, she was good to all of us who worked for her. She was just a nice lady."

This is the first murder in the city since the deaths of Julie Shade, 22,  and Daniel Walters, 19, in separate incidents in 2008.

The investigation is being conducted by the North Adams Police Department, state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, officers from the Pittsfield Police Department and deputies from the Berkshire County sheriff's department, and members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force.

This article will be frequently updated as we receive more information.

Left, Clarksburg Police blocked access to the upper section of Walker Street; right, a busy scene outside the house earlier Wednesday morning.

 

 

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Superior Court Briefs: September 9 - September 12

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, September 9.
 
Devin Newman, 24, of Springfield pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of cocaine and conspiracy to violate drug laws. 
 
Newman was ordered to serve concurrent two and a half year sentences at the Berkshire County House of Corrections. Newman conspired with others to sell cocaine in Pittsfield between October 14, 2010 and October 21, 2010. He also sold cocaine in Pittsfield on December 27, 2011 and January 2, 2012.
 
Walter Harris, 25, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, illegal ownership of a firearm, improper storage of a firearm and possession of counterfeit bills.
 
He was ordered to serve three and a half to five years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was placed on one year probation on the possession of a firearm charge and given concurrent sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charges.
 
The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on September 26, 2012.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, September 11.
 
David Rosander, 30, of North Adams has a single count of assault and battery continued without a change of plea for six months.
 
The charge stems from an incident in North Adams on February 10, 2013. Single counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking in cocaine, illegal ownership of a firearm, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card and improper storage of a firearm were dismissed by the state.
 
The state conceded that the evidence leading those those charges were seized improperly.
 
Eyzaiya Moody, 30, of Pittsfield was sentenced after pleading guilty on Sept. 5 to single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute - his second offense - drug violation in a school zone, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a public employee, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license - his second offense - negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stop for a police officer.
 
He was sentenced to serve one day at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the possession of cocaine charge, four to six years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the school zone charge, given concurrent house of correction sentences on the assault charges and the motor vehicle offenses were place on file.
 
The charges stem from a motor vehicle chase in Pittsfield on January 4, 2013.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, September 12.
 
Joseph Baker, 30, of Pittsfield was sentenced after pleading guilty to a single count of larceny from a person on Aug. 27.
 
Baker was placed on two years probation. The charge was due to his involvement with an unarmed robbery at the Pittsfield Price Chopper on August 11, 2012.
 
Gerald Field, 45, of Monterey pleaded guilty to two counts of intimidation of a witness or other person.
 
He was sentenced to four to since years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. The sentence begins after the one he is currently serving. 
 
Field intimidated two witnesses in a criminal matter in Great Barrington between August 15, 2011 and January 10, 2012.
 
Jeanne Kuklewicz, 33, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of unarmed robbery, assault and battery on a public employee, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
 
She was sentenced to one year of a two year sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the assault and battery charge. She was placed on two years probation on the unarmed robbery charge. She was given concurrent house of correction time on the other charges.
 
Kuklewicz was involved in an unarmed robbery at the Pittsfield Price Chopper on August 11, 2012. The other charges stem from her arrest the following day in Pittsfield.
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North Adams Police Arrest Suspected Taxi Robber

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police have apprehended the suspect in an attempted robbery that occurred on Monday night.

Berthony Jean-Baptiste, 21, of Harrison Avenue in Boston is facing charges of armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, to wit a knife, and larceny more than $250.

Jean-Baptiste allegedly took a Yellow Cab from Hartford, Conn., to Brayton Hill Terrace on Monday, then attempted to rob the taxi driver at knifepoint. The robber made off with the driver's phone but no money. The driver sustained minor injuries that did not require medical attention.

Police received the robbery report at about 8:55 p.m. on Monday and, assisted by troopers working the Community Action Team, responded to the scene and instituted an extensive search that included a state police helicopter. The suspect, however, was able to elude searchers.

Since then, North Adams officers followed up on tips and leads generated by a CodeRed message sent to residents throughout North Adams. The officers also received the assistance from the Greater Hartford Transit District, Amtrak Security and the Yellow Cab Com.

A lead sent police back to Brayton Hill at about 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, where they made contact with a man matching the description of a the robber — reportedly a black man in his 20s with a Jamaican accent and speech impediment.

The officers were able to confirm multiple matching descriptors and developed probable cause for the arrest of Jean-Baptiste, according to Lt. David Sacco.

Jean-Baptiste was transported to the North Adams Police Department, where he was booked and ordered that he be held on $50,000 cash bail or $500,000 surety by the clerk magistrate of the Northern Berkshire District Court. An arrest warrant was also located for Jean-Baptiste from the Boston District Court. Jean-Baptiste was being arraigned in Northern Berkshire District on Thursday.

The name Berthony Jean-Baptiste, with comparable ages, appears in several police logs and crime reports out of Brookline, Somerville and Watertown for a number of larceny, assualt and battery and trespassing charges. It was not clear if man arrested in North Adams is the same person.

"This was a great team effort by the North Adams Police and the state police to take this suspect into custody," said Mayor Richard Alcombright. "Our CodeRed system proved helpful in the resulting leads furnished by residents that led to the arrest. Our Public Safety officials and officers maintain a very high level of commitment to the safety of our residents."


 

North Adams Police Seeking Robbery Suspect
Original post on Sept. 10, 2013; 10:59 a.m.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are seeking a suspect in an alleged armed robbery that occurred about 8:55 p.m. on Monday night at Brayton Hill Terrace.

The suspect, described as an African-American man about 27 years old with a Jamaican accent and a severe speech impediment, reportedly picked up a cab in Hartford, Conn., and asked the driver to take him North Adams.

Upon arriving at Brayton Hill, the Yellow Cab driver told police his fare brandished a knife and threatened him, ordering him to hand over any money he had. The driver was able to stop the robbery and the suspect fled the scene.

The robber didn't get any money but he did make off with the driver's cell phone. The taxi driver also received minor injuries to his hand from the knife but they did not require medical attention.

Police searched the area for the subject for several hours Monday night with assistance from detectives, the state police Community Action Team and the Williamstown Police Department K-9. Also assisting were a state police Air Wing and Crime Scene Services, which had been in the area.

The suspect reportedly has been living in North Adams for only a few weeks and is unfamiliar with the area. In addition to his accent, he is described as standing 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9, with a skinny build and wearing a "skull cap," baseball hat, jeans and a white T-shirt.

The investigation remains open and anyone with information should contact the North Adams Police Department at 413-664-4944.

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Mount Greylock High Searched After Threat Rumor

Staff Reports

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Police and school officials searched Mount Greylock Regional High School on Thursday night after a rumored threat.

In two messages to the Mount Greylock community, Principal Mary A. MacDonald said the search for unidentified "contraband" on the school grounds came after a consultation with Department of Children and Families "that an at-risk student might pose a threat."

Police Chief Kyle Johnson, reached Friday night, said an officer assisted school officials in the search along with a state police K-9 unit. Johnson said nothing was found and no one was charged "as the rumor was unfounded."

He said the search had nothing to do with the pursuit of a suspected drug dealer that also occurred on Thursday night.

MacDonald's message late Friday afternoon provided few details, such as when the search occurred. The search did include the fact that the school's crisis management team was assembled.

"We are not at liberty to provide further details, however, we remain vigilant and will communicate with you as the need arises," the principal wrote in Friday's message.

In a message Sunday night, MacDonald clarified that the search had been Thursday night and that there were no students in the building.

"If there was any validity to the allegation, students would not have been allowed to re-enter on Friday, September 6th," she wrote.

The district had done "extensive groundwork" over the summer refining emergency planning, she said, incluidng an all-school evacuation drill with the Fire Department there to observe on Thursday.

"As part of our crisis management planning efforts, we will be sharing aspects of our plan with parents and guardians in the next few weeks."

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