Arrest after four-year-long "Peeping Tom" investigation in Wilder
Suspect is son of a former police chief in NH
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - Four-year's worth of reports of a hooded man peering in women's windows at residences in and around the Hemlock Ridge condo complex in the village of Wilder culminated in a court appearance Monday afternoon by a 30-year-old suspect who turned out to be the son of a retired police chief in New Hampshire.
Robert Black of Wolfboro, New Hampshire, was fired from his job as a tree trimmer with a large Upper Valley tree maintenance company after he was finally identified by police as their prime suspect with the help of the tree company's human resources department after one of many game cameras that had been hidden in the area captured an image of the suspect with the company's logo embroidered on the chest of his jacket.
For weeks police had been capturing phantom-like images of the suspect on their hidden cameras, often showing remarkably clear pictures of his face - as well as graphic evidence of what he was up to as he watched women without their knowledge - but until the logo appeared officers didn't have any way of figuring out who he was.
On Monday afternoon, Black appeared in court in downtown White River Junction wearing a suit and accompanied by his mother, as he entered innocent pleas to a single felony count of lewd & lascivious conduct, eleven counts of voyeurism and a single misdemeanor count of stalking. He was released from the courthouse after he signed for an unsecured $10,000 appearance bond.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Hartford Police Detective Kristinnah Adams said that one of five women listed as victims in court paperwork had first contacted police in May of 2013 reporting that she had seen a strange man with "beady eyes" staring in at her through her bathroom window at night as she was brushing her teeth.
Other local women reported similar scares over the years and in 2015 the local homeowner's association sent warning letters to residents of the neighborhood urging them to be vigilant.
Detective Adams said despite numerous responses to sightings by police, which even including several late night stakeouts by both Hartford officers and state troopers who were loaned to the effort and the deployment motion-activated sensors around the wooded area, police were never able to catch the intermittent prowler in the act.
In April of last year, one of the neighbors saw a man looking through her backdoor, called 911, and then gave chase, describing him as tall and wearing a black hoodie, jeans and work boots.
The trail went cold again until May of this year when the original victim brought a series of videos and still images she had captured on her own with the use of a "Stealth Cam" that showed the suspect outside on her lawn on eleven separate nights in April and May doing things like drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and "grabbing his crotch," Adams wrote.
It was one of those images that included the tree company logo that led to the identification of Black as the suspect, Detective Adams wrote, adding that the investigation then ran into "conflict of interest" issues in New Hampshire because of the suspect's relationship to law enforcement where his father was a 26-year veteran of the Wolfboro Police Department and had retired in 2006 after having ended his career by serving as the town's police chief.
New Hampshire State Police officers stepped in and helped Hartford officers obtain a search warrant which was executed upon Black late last week when he drove up to his parent's house where officers from Vermont and New Hampshire were waiting, Adams wrote.
Adams wrote that Black did not seem surprised to see her and the other detectives and she added that, after they seized his work clothing and his cellphone, he allegedly "admitted that he has an issue with voyeurism and received counseling for it in 2013."
Detective Adams said Black allegedly admitted going to the original victim's residence, adding "He advised when he drinks alcohol he makes these bad decisions."
Police are continuing to examine Black's cellphone after they said he admitted there may be images of several women on it which were taken without their consent and they added that additional charges may be forthcoming if and when they are able to identify those women.
In the meantime, police said their investigations are on-going and noted that in recent years Black has lived on Barrister Road in Wilder as well as at residences in Enfield and South Royalton. They are asking anyone who thinks they may have been the victim of a similar incident to contact the Hartford Police Department at (802) 295-9425.
Robert Black, 30, a former Wilder resident, is facing multiple voyeurism-related charges
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