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Missing Pittsfield Child Reportedly Returned to Father

Staff Reports

Police are searching for Alexis Hodges, who is with her mother, Amanda Babcock.
Update, Friday, July 20, 11:42 a.m.: Alexis Hodges was reportedly returned to her father in Central Berkshire District Court on Friday morning, according to witnesses. We have placed a call with the police asking for confirmation.

Police have notified that all national and local missing child alerts have been canceled.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield police are asking for anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of 3-year-old Alexis Lee Hodges and her mother, Amanda Babcock, to contact them as they continue to investigate a missing persons report filed by the child's father last week.

Michael Hodges says he was awarded full custody of daughter Alexis on the morning of July 12, at a court proceeding at which Babcock failed to appear. Hodges had indicated on his Facebook as early as 9 that night that police were trying to locate the child's mother. The following day, according to Hodges, he filed a report that the child was missing. Hodges and friends began posting photos of the child as missing over the weekend and by early Wednesday had reached a significant enough volume to draw attention from local media.

"She's 3 and she's pretty much fending for herself right now. The situation that she's in was put on by her mother and the situation she's in is not right. My daughter doesn't deserve this. My daughter deserves to be home with me," Michael Hodges told YNN in an interview late Wednesday evening.

Authorities have said the case is not being considered a kidnapping because the mother of the child has not been served notification of the father's custody, but her whereabouts have remained unknown. According to their alert Wednesday afternoon, initial information indicated that Babcock, along with her boyfriend, Jeffrey Kucka, were planning to leave the area for Colorado. This was not corroborated, and police now say they believe the trio to be still in the local area.

Pittsfield Police have received reports from the public that the three have been seen camping in various locations locally within the past few weeks. Police in Lanesborough had previously received a complaint about a month ago that Kucka, along with his girlfriend and her child, were staying off a rural road near Riverside Cemetery, according to a nearby neighbor.

Relatives of Babcock indicated that she, the child, and Kucka had not been staying at their last known address for some time, and were possibly indigent. Pittsfield police similarly suggested that they may be staying outdoors or at a friends house.

They are believed to be traveling in a green, 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport with the license plate of 588EE3. They have ties to Williamstown, Lanesborough and Hancock, Police are reporting.

Anyone with information about the possible whereabouts of these three individuals is asked to call Pittsfield Police immediately.

Det. Nick DeSantis: 413-448-9700 Ext. 303
Capt. Patrick Barry: 413-448-9700 Ext. 606

PPD also has the capability to accept anonymous tips online  and via text: PITTIP plus your message and send it to 847411.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are trying to locate 3-year-old Alexis Hodges, who is believed to be with her mother either camping for with friends.

Police released a statement on Wednesday calling for information about the whereabouts of Hodges, her mother, Amanda Babcock, and Babcock's boyfriend, Jeffrey Kucka. Police say they want to find them and check the well-being of Hodges.

Initial reports suggest Babcock was planning to leave the state and travel to Colorado but that information had not been corroborated, Police said.

Information indicates that all three are still in the county and are either staying with friends or camping. They are believed to be traveling in a green, 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport with the license plate of 588EE3. They have ties to Williamstown, Lanesborough and Hancock, Police are reporting.

Babcock and Hodges have been entered into the National Crime Information Center as Missing and Endangered Subjects.

Anyone who has seen or have had contact with the three people are asked to contact Police at 413-448-9700.

Pittsfield Police Presence Has Tyler Area Wondering

By Joe Durwin
Pittsfield Correspondent

Pittsfield Police said Monday that the extra enforcement on Tyler Street and Dalton Avenue was for jaywalkers and traffic.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents and motorists in the Dalton Avenue area voiced concerns Monday morning about another possible serious crime in their neighborhood, but authorities say the notable police presence is for enhanced policing of pedestrian activity and not a suspect search feared by some.

iBerkshires was contacted by area residents who reported seeing multiple cars pulled over by Pittsfield Police in the Dalton Avenue and Tyler Street area between approximately 11 and noon Monday.

"One flew down Dalton Avenue toward Liquors Inc. going like 100 mph," said Alice Larkin, of Dalton, "While one had someone pulled over next to Dunkin' Donuts on Dalton Ave."

Multiple police cruisers and an officer in a dark red unmarked car were seen circling the area repeatedly.

"I also saw an officer pull someone over, get out, hold up something like a photo to compare the driver to, then hop right back in the car, flick on his lights again and head the opposite way down Tyler Street," said Larkin.

"They seemed to be looking for somebody between Zenner's [Package & Variety store] on Tyler and around Dalton Ave," said one Tyler Street area resident, who declined to give his name.

Pittsfield Police Sgt. Shaun Osborne told iBerkshires the activity was not related to any search effort. "We're not searching for anybody, it's just crosswalk enforcement, that type of thing," he said.

The activity comes just days after a robbery at the Dunkin' Donuts on Dalton Avenue last Thursday, and a robbery at nearby Kirk's Variety on Tyler Street the week prior. Police announced Friday they had arrested a suspect they believed could be involved in both incidents.

Pittsfield Man Charged in Dunkin' Donuts Robbery

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police say they have apprehended a suspect in the armed robbery of the Dunkin' Donuts on Dalton Avenue on Thursday night.

According to The Berkshire Eagle, 28-year-old Christopher M. Riddle of Tyler Street, who spent time in prison for robberies committed in 2005, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Friday. Riddle was charged with single counts of unarmed robbery and possesion of heroin. The Eagle reported he pleaded not guilty to the charges but was held without bail based on a Superior Court matter.

Police said they responded to a report of an armed robbery at the 84 Dalton Ave. doughnut shop on Thursday night at about 9:29 p.m. The suspect was reported to have been masked when he entered the business and demanded money from the cash registers. Although the suspect's face could not be seen, witnesses were able to identify him based on his voice and his physical characteristics, said police.

Witnesses had reported that the suspect had been in the business on three separate occasions earlier in the evening, but could not be certain that he possessed a weapon during the robbery.

Based on the identification, a BOLO was put out for the suspect, who was located on Tyler Street near Brown Street at approximately 11:04 p.m. Riddle was subsequently arrested by patrol officers and investigators from the Drug Unit. At the time of his arrest, police said he was found to be in possession of a quantity of cash and heroin.

The investigation is ongoing, but police said preliminary investigation indicates that the suspect in Thursday's robbery matches the description of the suspect in a prior robbery that occurred at Kirk's Variety on Tuesday, July 10.

Anyone with any additional information is asked to contact the Detective Bureau at 413-448-9705.

Greylock Federal Credit Union Warns of Phone Scam

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Greylock Federal Credit Union is alerting Berkshire County residents — members and nonmembers — about a phone scam.
... Automated home and mobile phone calls and text messages are coming from an unknown source claiming to need your Visa credit and/or debit card information to reactivate your account.  

The message did not orginate from Greylock Federal Credit Union or any other legitimate source and should be considered fraudulent.

If you receive a phone call or text message similar to the one referenced above, please consider it a scam and hang up the phone immediately. Please contact Greylock at 413-236-4000 or 800-207-5555 if you have given your credit card information so we may help you take prompt corrective action.

If, for any reason, you did give out your debit card information and it is now after regular Greylock business hours, report your lost, stolen or compromised Visa Debit Card by calling 1-800-453-4270.  If, for any reason, you did give out your credit card information and it is now after regular Greylock business hours, report your lost, stolen or compromised Visa Credit Card by calling 1-800-558-3424.

Pittsfield Blogger Dan Valenti Cited For Harassment

Staff Reports
Updated on June 27, 2012 at 10:50 with a comment from Dan Valenti.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local blogger was ordered to remove all references to Meredith Nilan after being dealt a harassment prevention order.

The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Nilan, who was recently the subject of a highly publicized hit and run pedestrian accident, was granted the order in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday.

The order requires Valenti to remove any and all references to her as well as stay 100 yards away from her, stay away from her home and place of employment and refrain from any contact or abuse.

The order is effective until Monday, July 9, when a court hearing will take place.

Valenti, a former columnist for both The Berkshire Eagle and the Pittsfield Gazette, started his own blog, Planet Valenti, in 2010 and has made a name for himself with his brash criticism of local politics. Nilan, the daughter of Berkshire Superior Court Probation Chief Clifford Nilan, was the focus of numerous postings by Valenti. Those postings frequently speculated on her disposition, parentage, political pull and her actions before and after the incident.

On Wednesday, Valenti told iBerkshires via email that he had yet to see the judge's decision and he would have to see that before determining his next course of action.

"I found out about it while reading the comments on my blog, ironically," Valenti said. "I've never had any contact with Ms. Nilan nor do I intend that. I will also add that this case brings up an interesting First Amendment discussion."

Editor's note: The hit-and-run charge was dismissed. We have corrected the description.
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