Suspect arrested at Shady Lawn and charged with Wilder armed robberies
North Haverhill man allegedly confesses to back-to-back stick ups
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - Police have raided a room at the Shady Lawn Motel in White River Junction and arrested a North Haverhill, New Hampshire man they suspect was the robber who held up both the Cumberland Farms and the Mobil Smart Shop gas stations and convenience stores in Wilder earlier this week.
Justin Hatch, 28, allegedly confessed to police that he carried out both robberies following his arrest late Thursday evening before appearing in court Friday afternoon where he entered innocent pleas to a pair of felony charges of assault & robbery with a weapon in connection with the hold-ups and to a pair of felony forgery charges from neighboring Orange County for which arrest warrants had been outstanding for months while police have been seeking to locate Hatch.
During his arraignment, Hatch told Judge Theresa DiMauro that he had inherited a house in North Haverhill from his parents and that he considers that residence, where he lives with his brother to be his legal address.
Justin Hatch pleaded innocent to multiple felony charges and was held without bail Friday
Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill successfully urged the Judge to hold Hatch without bail, saying that whatever home Hatch may own, he was found “crashing” in a room at the Shady Lawn with individuals police have referred to as “known drug dealers.”
While Hatch was being transported to the courthouse over the noon hour on Friday, Hartford Police were back at the Shady Lawn Motel executing a search warrant on the rooms where Hatch had been staying with friends in an effort to locate evidence like clothing and potentially firearms that were used in the robberies which began at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning at the Cumberland Farms and continued on Tuesday night with the stick up of the Wilder Mobil.
Hatch allegedly confessed to sticking up Wilder's newly renovated Cumberland Farms store Sunday morning
Hatch allegedly confessed to the Wilder Mobil Smart Shop robbery where a bag was handed across to the clerks as he demanded money
Robber seen approaching the Mobil station in Wilder on Tuesday night leaving footprints in the snow
Hartford Police photos of a shoe seized from Hatch and a print made Tuesday night at the scene
A witness Tuesday night had recalled seeing a silver sedan with "a light colored" license plate drop someone off on Wilder Street, directly behind the Mobil station, moments before the robbery and late Thursday night Hartford Police Sgt. Connie Kelley stopped a silver Ford Focus with New Hampshire plates on Route 5 in White River Junction near the Bugbee Senior Center.
Hatch was driving the car and Sgt. Kelley discovered that he had an outstanding arrest warrant from Orange County charging him with two felony counts of forgery. Knowing that a silver car was purportedly involved in at least one of the Wilder robberies, Sgt. Kelley took a close look at Hatch's footwear and was struck by their similarity to prints in the snow that police had photographed outside the Mobil.
After police seized the car and took Hatch to the Hartford Police Department to be interviewed, he explained that he had been staying with a couple at the Shady Lawn Motel in White River Junction for several days and that his friends had been buying heroin and "a thousand dollars-a-day" worth of crack cocaine from a drug dealer in the next room, Sgt. Jason Pedro wrote in an affidavit filed with the court.
Sgt. Pedro said that Hatch initially denied direct involvement in the armed robberies but then allegedly confessed, saying that he felt sorry because his friend was getting "dope sick" and so the pair of them planned the robbery and his friend drove him up the street and dropped him off with a gun in the parking lot of Blood's Seafood next to the newly renovated Cumberland Farms. Hatch told police that immediately after being picked up with the bag of money, the pair drove back to the Shady Lawn so his friend could buy more heroin.
Hatch detailed a similar scheme for the robbery Tuesday, saying that once again his friend provided him with the clothing items, a bag and a gun and noting that he got about $80 for his efforts that time, a detail which Sgt. Pedro said was not generally known.
Details of Friday's search of rooms at the Shady Lawn Motel where not immediately available but prosecutors said it was possible that other arrests will be forthcoming and that, if so, they are likely to appear in court as early as Monday.
Hatch was ordered held without bail Friday pending trial and faces a minimum of two years and a maximum of up to 30 years if he were to be convicted of the robbery charges
A third armed robbery this week, at Dan & Whit’s general store in downtown Norwich, has so far not been linked to the Wilder holdups by authorities.
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