Covered bridge struck again / attempted murder-kidnapping / four-day barricade in home / more human smuggling

Damaged covered bridge, kidnapping/attempted murder suspects Nichole Cloutier and Mack Varnum

Police are looking for a box truck that struck and damaged the Union Village Covered Bridge in Thetford on Friday morning, this morning’s Journal-Opinion newsletter reports. 

According to a news release from Thetford Police Department, the truck was traveling north and passed through the bridge causing extensive damage to the upper braces. Witnesses reported seeing wooden beams fall from the top of the truck.

The bridge is open for traffic, but an evaluation by a state engineer recommended making emergency cross brace repairs.

Both this bridge on Academy Road and the Sayre Covered Bridge on Tucker Hill Road have previously been struck and damaged by vehicles on numerous occasions.

The incident happened around 9:30 a.m. Police are asking residents to examine footage from their security cameras for help in identifying the truck responsible for the damage.

The Journal-Opinion is the community newspaper for Bradford and surrounding towns on both sides of the Connecticut River. The newsletter is emailed free Monday-Friday. 

Man surrenders child after four-day barricade in home – A 36-year-old man was arrested following an incident in Milton on Tuesday.

Authorities say they were notified that Shawn Dudley, of Milton, was refusing to return his four-year-old son to the child’s mother.

Police say the mother has sole legal responsibility for the child.

Over the course of the past four days Milton police members, outreach workers, and members of the Vermont State Police’s crisis negotiation unit made several attempts to have Dudley voluntarily release the child to the mother.

During the course of the investigation, the Milton Police Department obtained a search warrant for the residence to arrest Dudley and to assure the safe return of the child.

On Friday, after nearly eight hours of negotiations with Dudley and repeated attempts to have Dudley release the child, the determination was made to enter the residence.

Once inside the residence, officers encountered several barricades and barriers hindering officers from moving inside the residence.

After several hours Dudley was taken into custody for custodial interference, resisting arrest, hindering law enforcement officers, and violation of a relief from abuse order.

Dudley was lodged at the Chittenden County Correctional Center for the lack of $1,500 bail. – Newport Dispatch

Another human smuggling bust at border – Three persons were arrested near Morses Line on February 19 for trying to smuggle individuals without legal status into the U.S., the federal attorney for VT said.  

Aaron Cruz-Castelazo, 32, and Marcos Rosas-Mendoza, 34, both Mexican nationals without U.S. immigration status, appeared Wednesday in United States District Court in Burlington.  Emmanuel Moheno-Gomez, 30, also a Mexican without U.S. status, appeared in court Thursday on a charge that he unlawfully entered the country. Judge Kevin Doyle ordered that all three defendants be held without bail pending trial. Two other individuals without status in the United States who were apprehended with Moheno-Gomez were released to immigration custody for removal from the United States.  

According to public court documents, in the late afternoon of February 19, law enforcement officials in Canada notified the Border Patrol in Vermont that a vehicle had dropped off three individuals just north of the border in Canada. Believing that the individuals were planning to enter the United States on foot, Border Patrol agents responded to the area and eventually apprehended three Mexican nationals, including Moheno-Gomez.  

During that investigation, agents also encountered a rental vehicle with North Carolina license plates.  An agent stopped that vehicle when it drove to the area just south of the border where the three individuals likely would have crossed into the United States. Agents detained the driver, Cruz-Castelazo, and the passenger, Rosas-Mendoza. Agents later determined that Rosas-Mendoza had been in cellphone communication with one of the three individuals as they walked across the border. 

As currently charged, Cruz-Castelazo and Rosas-Mendoza face up to five years of imprisonment if convicted. The unlawful entry charge against Moheno-Gomez is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of imprisonment.  

No charges in Shelburne pedestrian death – the driver of the car that killed a pedestrian on Rte. 7 in Shelburne last October was not at fault, police concluded earlier this month. 

On October 12, a 2013 Nissan Leaf driven by Craig Simmons, 46, of Shelburne struck and killed Nathan Miner, 60, on Shelburne Road. The investigation revealed no negligence existed on the part of the operator. The pedestrian was intoxicated at the time of the crash as well as wearing dark colored clothing. The pedestrian left the sidewalk and entered the travel portion of the roadwayo crossing in front of oncoming traffic, police said. He died five days later. 

Attempted murder, kidnapping – State Police Friday, Feb. 24 arrested Mack Varnum and Nichole Cloutier for attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, unlawful restraint in the 1st degree and aggravated domestic assault 1st degree. 

Both suspects have had other recent run-ins with the law. Varnum was cited for drug possession on January 25 in St. Johnsbury. He was listed as a Barnet resident. Cloutier has a recent bust for operating without an owner’s consent and supplying false information to a police officer. 

The investigation began at about 11:30 a.m. February 23, 2023, when the St. Johnsbury Police Department, St. Johnsbury Fire Department and CALEX responded to Bay Street in St. Johnsbury for a report of a woman in a vehicle who had her hands bound together with duct tape and her head partially covered with a bag and duct tape. 

The victim was freed by first responders and then transported to NVRH where she was treated and released. While at NVRH the victim was interviewed by a detective with the St. Johnsbury Police Department, who learned that the incident took place in Peacham and Danville. The case was then transferred to the Vermont State Police. Members of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Field Force Division began investigating further. Further interviews of the victim were conducted, and evidence collected from the truck the victim was found in. 

Police say the victim was picked up on the side of the road near Varnum’s residence in Peacham by Varnum and Cloutier in Varnum’s truck, at which point she was forcibly restrained and bound. The victim was driven in the Peacham and Danville area and restrained for several hours, while her life was threatened. At one point the victim was left alone in the truck, enabling her to break free enough to drive away in the truck and escape. The victim then drove herself to Bay Street in St. Johnsbury Village.

Friday, detectives and Field Force troopers located Varnum and Cloutier at Varnum’s residence and arrested them without incident. Varnum and Cloutier were lodged at the Northeast Reginal Correctional Center, held without bail. Both are scheduled for arraignment today at 1:00 pm.

During the arrest of Cloutier and Varnum, Janita Ledoux, 35, also was located at the residence. Ledoux was arrested on an outstanding warrant violation of conditions of release unrelated to this case.

Categories: Crime

1 reply »

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