Convicted sex offender who mailed death threats to media, authorities released to live in Winooski

Called himself Messiah

Woman asks judge for no-contact order

A convicted sex offender, who has spent 30 years in mental institutions because he mailed death threats to Vermont news reporters and a state prosecutor, has been quietly released from federal custody to live in Winooski, court records show.

Mark L. Rouelle, 59, had continuously maintained he was the “Messiah” and became upset when certain media members failed to report his imagined identity while he was being prosecuted on state charges involving threats and assaultive behavior toward the mother of his child, records note.

The prolific letter writer became more threatening as the letters escalated, court documents reveal. The FBI eventually arrested Rouelle on a 5-count federal indictment in 1992 for mailing three death threats to then-Burlington Free Press staff writer Mike Donoghue and one count each to then-WCAX reporter Brian Joyce and then-Chittenden County prosecutor Lauren Bowerman.

The letters with biblical references continued even after his arrest and were expanded to more prosecutors, media members, judges and others, including President Barack Obama, according to the voluminous file in U.S. District Court.

A federal judge in Burlington at the time ordered a full mental examination and eventually deemed him not guilty by reason of insanity, records show. He sent Rouelle for treatment initially at a mental institution in Butner, N.C.

Senior Judge William Sessions recently imposed six pages of conditions for Rouelle’s release after authorities at a federal mental institution in Devens, Mass. said they thought he could be released if he took his medication and sought treatment, records show.

Rouelle is to undergo mental health, sex offender and substance abuse treatment programs as required by the Probation Office.

Rouelle became a client of Pathways in Burlington, which helped him secure an apartment in Winooski upon his return to Vermont Feb. 10 and to connect with treatment providers in the area, records show.

During an emergency court hearing last Thursday, Sessions noted a woman in the community was now asking the judge to add one more restriction — that Rouelle have no contact with her apparently after learning his true identity, court records show.

“What really concerns the Government is the lack of candor with the probation officer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Masterson said according to a transcript of the hearing.

“I mean, what struck me was the false name in his contacts, and that’s unacceptable. If we go back to the hearings, we know truthfulness is an issue for Mr. Rouelle.”

Sessions agreed there were honesty issues with Rouelle.

“Number one, you had a false name on your contact list, but more than that, there’s been a pattern of contact with this person really in violation of what you said. You were not honest. And certainly this change in condition is going to require that you be absolutely honest with your probation officer,” Sessions said.

Sessions did release Rouelle on conditions in 2011 when the Howard Center said it would be responsible for him. But within a few months the judge ordered Rouelle back into custody for failing to take his medication, for being dishonest with his probation officer and for drinking, records show. Burlington Police responded to an incident with a woman screaming and found Rouelle trying to gag her, Sessions wrote in court papers.

Categories: Crime

5 replies »

  1. Perfect! Winooski is Vermont’s most diverse city. Since all the City Council members are LGBTQ+ and will be ‘proud’ to represent their LGBTQ+ neighbors, a convicted sex offender should fit in quite naturally. Not sure how the people of color might react.

  2. Shouldn’t Rouelle have been healed of mental health issues, sexual violence, and substance abuse during his 30 years in a mental institution before releasing him? The requirements of the Probation Office indicate rehabilitation did not occur.

    • Rehabilitation isn’t mandatory for them, according to the bleeding hearts they have rights.

  3. Perhaps Rouelle should have been released to live with and be rehabilitated by Sarah George

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