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North Adams Woman's Death Ruled Homicide
Staff Reports On: 04:40PM / Wednesday September 18, 2013
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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.

 

 



     
North Adams Police Arrest Suspected Taxi Robber
Staff Reports On: 12:01PM / Thursday September 12, 2013
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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.



     
North Adams Motor-Vehicle Accident Claims Life
Staff Reports On: 11:24AM / Wednesday August 28, 2013
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One person was killed and another injured in motor vehicle accident early Wednesday morning.

Updated at 2:25 p.m., Aug. 28, 2013

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — One person was killed and another injured in a motor-vehicle accident early Wednesday morning.

Erica Rock, 31, the passenger in the vehicle, died later Wednesday morning at Berkshire Medical Center from injuries received in the accident.

Her father, Kenneth Rock, 58, of North Adams, the driver, was taken to North Adams Regional Hospital.

Police on Wednesday were not releasing any information on the identities of those involved other than to say a man and a woman were in the sport utility vehicle at the time of the accident.

The accident is still under investigation by North Adams and state police.

"The vehicle was headed eastbound when it hit the pole on the eastbound side and sheared it off; it then impacted with the cement wall and crossed the road and impacted with another pole," said Sgt. James Burdick.

Erica Rock was ejected from the vehicle; neither Rock was wearing a seat belt.

The accident was reported at 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday as a single car into a utility pole with lines down. Two ambulances were called to the scene: one victim was taken to North Adams Regional Hospital and the other to Berkshire Medical Center.

The accident occurred between Richview and Goodrich streets on Route 2.

The street was closed for hours for the state police team's reconstruction and for National Grid to repair the lines; the utility company was still completing repairs at about 9 a.m. Burdick did not believe anyone lost power during the event.

The vehicle, a late-model 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was towed by Mohawk Towing.



     
Corner Store Robbed in North Adams
Staff Reports On: 06:24PM / Saturday August 17, 2013
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Police are investigating an afternoon robbery at the Corner Market.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two suspects are being sought in a bold daylight robbery on Saturday that injured a clerk at the Corner Market.

"A lady was found inside the store," said Sgt. James Burdick. "She was assaulted and the store robbed."

Police are seeking two men, possibly African-American or Hispanic; one was clad in black, the other was wearing an orange track suit-type outfit.

The call came in about 3 p.m. Burdick said the clerk was alone in the store on a regular shift at the time of the robbery and received minor injuries. She was currently at the police station speaking with investigators.

Burdick said the scene had been closed off and state police Crime Scene Services was en route. No information on what or how much was stolen would be available until after the scene was processed, he said.

Several officers were at the scene and the store entrance was closed off with police tape. Lanesborough Police provided a K-9 unit for several hours.

The building at 108-110 River St. is owned by Nazim N. Daredia. The convenience store had long been operated by the James and Gisele Bua until the 1990s.



     
North Adams Residents Advised to Lock Doors After Break-ins
Staff Reports On: 01:16PM / Thursday August 01, 2013
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are warning residents to make sure their car and garage doors are locked after a series of break-ins in the West End.

Unsecured cars and a few garages have been entered over the past two weeks in the Notch Road area, including Marion and Woodlawn avenues.

"We can't stress this enough: you must lock your doors," said Police Director Michael Cozzaglio on Thursday. "Times have changed."

Residents are also advised not to leave valuable in their cars and to secure their garages. At least one resident had valuables taken from an unlocked car in an unlocked garage. The break-ins were described as crimes of opportunity, in which the thief or thieves are swiftly rifling unlocked vehicles.  

Residents should be alert and report any late-night suspicious activity to the police by calling 911.



     
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Emergency: 911
Adams 413-743-1212
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Cheshire 413-743-1501
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Lanesborough 413-443-4107
Lee 413-243-2100
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