Pellet gun fired through apartment door on Mineral Street
SPRINGFIELD - A farmhand who allegedly admitted to police that he has been terrorizing his neighbors across the hall as part of an effort to get them to move from an apartment building on Mineral Street has been ordered held without bail.
Jospeh Stocker, 53, is facing a maximum potential penalty of over a hundred years in jail after he pleaded innocent Tuesday afternoon to six felony counts of first degree aggravated domestic assault with a deadly weapon, three felony counts of second degree domestic assault, one felony count of home invasion and two accompanying misdemeanor counts of unlawful mischief and interference with access to emergency services.
Stocker (left) in court on Tuesday afternoon with public defender Mike Shane
Officer Steven Neily Sr. wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that in the span of a couple of hours on Saturday the Springfield Police learned of the allegations that Stocker had allegedly been involved in a home invasion-style confrontation with the couple across the hallway late last month and that he had also allegedly made a series of violent threats against his own live-in girlfriend.
The putative victims told police that they had considered calling for help on the previous alleged occasions but were afraid of what Stocker might do to them if he was not kept in custody.
Justin Farnsworth and his girlfriend Paige Hillock explained to police in sworn written statements that she had gotten up in the middle of the night on Saturday to use a restroom accessed by a common hallway.
Hillock told police that she accidentally knocked over a mop which apparently awakened Stocker.
Hillock wrote that as she exited the restroom in the pre-dawn hours Stocker was waiting for her with an air rifle that fires lead pellets which he pressed against the right temple of her face as she walked “really fast” back to her apartment.
Seconds after his girlfriend was able to close the door behind her, Farnsworth told police he “heard the gun go off” and a lead pellet went through the closed door and smashed into a flatscreen television, flinging off a piece of debris that struck Hillock in the face.
The couple told police that as they hid in their room behind blankets they could hear Stocker pacing in the hallway for 45 minutes and they stayed put for hours until they were sure Stocker had left for his workplace at a bird farm on Paddock Road before Farnsworth ventured out to the Springfield police station to get help.
Police said that while Farnsworth was being interviewed he described another alleged incident late last month in which he said an enraged Stocker barged in uninvited by kicking open a locked door into the couple’s apartment. Farnsworth said Stocker pointed a pellet rifle in his face while demanding to know what had become of some bottles of Pepsi that he felt were missing.
Farnsworth told police that during that November incident Stocker pointed the pellet rifle at Hillock and dry fired it and then proceeded to beat Farnsworth with a large wooden stick.
After quoting Farnsworth as stating that the attack “hurt like hell,” Officer Neily wrote, “Farnsworth advised he did not contact the police (that time) because they have to live there and they were in the process of finding another residence.”
Springfield Police obtained a search warrant for Stocker’s residence on Saturday and, while inside his apartment, met up with his live-in girlfriend whom they said showed them where to find the pellet rifle and an 18-inch curved knife that Stocker reportedly slept with under his pillow along with a loaded crossbow and “multiple other knives” that were also in the apartment.
Police said the girlfriend also told them that she “was afraid of what Stocker would do to her” if he returned to the apartment.
After “making arrangements for a new place for her to live,” police said the 38-year-old woman described months of alleged verbal death threats she claimed she had been subjected to as well as more than one occasion during which she claimed Stocker had climbed on top of her and put a knife up to her throat while threatening to harm her.
Police then went to the farm and asked Stocker what had been going on to which, Neily said, Stocker openly admitted that he was trying to harass the couple into moving out of his building by “screaming and hollering at Hillock, banging on her walls and firing his pellet gun in the air.”
“I’m trying to get her the hell out of there,” the affidavit quoted Stocker as saying.
Neily said that after Stocker was arrested at the farm and brought to the police station to be formally interviewed Stocker told police that he thought Hillock had been stealing things from him and that he had been “fearing for my belongings at my castle.”
Neily went on to write that Stocker allegedly admitted that during the night on Saturday “I tried to intimidate them. I knew they were in bed so I fired the pellet gun to scare them into leaving. (The pellet) did go through (the door) and hit their TV.”
Stocker, who is a registered sex offender, is “Brady disqualified” from possessing firearms due to a pair of previous felony convictions for sexual assault of a minor and aggravated assault.
Vermont News can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org