By Guy Page
A Springfeld man with a Vermont prison record was found dead, shot in the head, off Greeley Road in Springfield.
The death of Justin Gilliam, 38, is the latest in a series of shootings in Springfield, a once-prosperous mill town now experiencing heavy drug crime activity and a shortage of police officers. Located on the fast-moving, hydro-power friendly Connecticut River, Springfield’s production of machine tools was of such importance to the American war effort during World War II that the US government ranked Springfield and nearby Windsor as the seventh most important bombing target in the country, according to Wikipedia.
But most of the factories closed more than a generation ago, and in recent years it has been targeted by a new enemy – organized drug crime. Located on the I-91 drug highway, it’s connected to fentanyl and heroin distribution hubs in southern New England. Illegal gunfire (notably on Valley Street) have been common this year.
Meanwhile, the Springfield Police Department (like many Vermont police agencies) is struggling with turnover. The chief of police is scheduled to retire this December. The Springfield Police Department is offering $10,000 signing bonuses for patrol officers and sergeants.
An autopsy was performed Tuesday, June 7 at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington on Gilliam. It determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death is a homicide. The investigation began when Springfield police received a call at 12:18 p.m. Monday from a resident who lives in the area of Greeley Road reporting that what appeared to be the body of a deceased adult man was found alongside the road, in the area of 99 Greeley Road.
On Nov. 27, 2017, Gilliam allegedly violated his furlough conditions by traveling to the state of New Hampshire, Springfield police say. Gilliam was cited to appear in Windsor County Criminal Court on the charge and remanded to SSCF by Department of Corrections field supervisors.
State police have released no information about the motive for the shooting. The investigation remains active and ongoing. Police encourage anyone with information about this incident to call the Vermont State Police in Westminster at 802-722-4600, or submit a tip anonymously online.