Fugitive runs from Springfield Police straight into the Black River...and then wants right back out

Transient has drug charges in two states

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A fugitive jumped into the frigid waters of the Black River on Thursday to escape police and then "immediately" requested their help in order to get back out. 

    Joseph Higginbotham, 26, whom prosecutors believe has been residing in Springfield in recent weeks despite his having given them an address in neighboring Charlestown, New Hampshire, waived extradition Friday back to the Granite State where he is wanted for an alleged series of parole violations.

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    Springfield Police Officer Jeremy Fitzgibbons spotted Higginbotham and Melissa Robinson, 36, Thursday in a parking lot next to the Springfield Health Center at 100 River Road and stopped to talk to them, according to an affidavit filed with the court which said that, as more officers began arriving on the scene to question the pair, dispatchers determined that both of them had outstanding warrants from New Hampshire requesting their arrest.

    Suddenly one of the detectives broadcast "He's running!" and the officers took off after Higginbotham who ran a short distance and then, "climbed over a guardrail and dropped down over an 8-to-10 foot retaining wall into the Black River."

    "He immediately complained that it was cold and he wanted help," Officer Fitzgibbons continued.

    "He was able to walk downstream about 30-to-40 feet and get onto the shore," where police helped him up and over the retaining wall, handcuffed him and then helped strip most of his wet clothing off before he was placed on a stretcher and into an ambulance to warm back up.  

    Fitzgibbons said police found four hypodermic needles in Higginbotham's clothing and then noticed that during the commotion Melissa Robinson had disappeared on them.

    During Higginbotham's court appearance on Friday, prosecutors noted that he has an open felony case in Vermont for possession of heroin stemming from his arrest in December at the Windsor Motel in Weathersfield in a room that police said contained a large amount of drug paraphernalia and 100 bags of heroin.

    New Hampshire authorities were seeking to extradite Higginbotham because of reports that he had been traveling out of state without permission and using drugs which would be violations of his parole.

    Higginbotham has a sentence in New Hampshire that runs until the year 2021 for possessing cocaine in a school zone in Claremont and for having placed fishing line out the window of his jail cell in an apparent attempt to pull contraband back into the prison.

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.com

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