Tuesday, June 07, 2005
CANADIAN Border Patrol coulda/shoulda STOPPED this INSANE KILLING MACHINE!
BOSTON (AP) - On the morning of April 25, Gregory Despres hitchhiked to the Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chainsaw stained by what appeared to be blood. Customs officials confiscated the cache of weapons and fingerprinted Despres, but allowed him to enter the United States - not knowing the gruesome scene about to unfold in the hitchhiker's hometown. The following day, in the village of Minto, N.B., the decapitated body of a well-known country musician named Frederick Fulton was discovered on his kitchen floor. Police found the 74-year-old man's head in a pillow case under a kitchen table and the body of his common-law wife, Veronica Decarie, 70, stabbed to death in a bedroom. A history of violence between Despres and his neighbours immediately made him a suspect in the murders, and the 22-year-old was arrested April 27 after police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway, wearing a sweatshirt with red and brown stains. Despres, now held at a jail in Plymouth on first-degree murder charges, is scheduled to return to a Boston federal court July 21 for an extradition hearing. While authorities on the Canadian side of the border await his return, a question for customs officials lingers: At a time when the U.S. is tightening its borders, how could a man toting a bloody chainsaw be allowed to enter the country? Bill Anthony, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the Canada-born Despres couldn't be detained because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen and wasn't wanted on any criminal charges on the day in question. Anthony said Despres was questioned for two hours before he was released. In the interim, he added, customs agents employed "every conceivable method" to check for warrants or see if Despres broke any laws in trying to re-enter the country. "Nobody asked us to detain him," Anthony said. "Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up ... We are governed by laws and regulations, and he did not violate any regulations." Anthony conceded it "sounds stupid" that a man wielding a bloody chainsaw couldn't be detained. "Our people don't have a crime lab up there," he added. "They can't look at a chainsaw and decide if it's blood or rust or red paint." On the same day he crossed the border, Despres was due in a New Brunswick court to be sentenced on charges he assaulted and threatened to kill Fulton's son-in-law, Frederick Mowat, in August 2004. Mowat told police Despres had been bothering his father-in-law for the past month. When Mowat confronted him, Despres allegedly pulled out a knife, pointed it at Mowat's chest and said he was "going to get you all." Police believe the dispute between the neighbours boiled over in the early-morning hours of April 24, when Despres allegedly broke into Fulton and Decarie's home and stabbed them in their bedroom. Fulton tried to escape, but police say Despres caught up with him on the porch, dragged him into the kitchen and killed him. Fulton's daughter found her father's body two days later. His car was later found in a gravel pit on a highway leading to the U.S. border. After the bodies were found on the afternoon of April 26, police set up roadblocks and sent out a bulletin that identified Despres as a "person of interest" in the slayings, said RCMP Sgt. Gary Cameron. The bulletin caught the eye of Quincy police dispatcher Carol Flynn because it gave the suspect's Massachusetts driver's licence number, missing a character. Flynn plugged in numbers and letters until she found a last known address for Despres in Mattapoisett. She alerted police in that town, and they dispatched an officer who quickly spotted Despres walking down Route 6. He was arrested on a fugitive warrant from Canada. "I guess (Despres) didn't give answers the officer liked, so they checked and - lo and behold - it was the guy they were looking for (in Canada)," said Quincy police Chief Robert Crowley. In court the next day, Despres reportedly told a judge that he is affiliated with NASA and was on his way to a Marine Corps base in Kansas at the time of his arrest. After the case was transferred to a Boston federal court for extradition proceedings, defence lawyer Michael Andrews questioned whether his client is mentally fit to co-operate with his defence. Andrews said it's unclear whether his client plans to fight his extradition. "We haven't gotten to that point yet," he said. "I can't tell you exactly what's going to happen." In the meantime, the shock of the killings hasn't worn off yet for many residents of Minto, a village of 2,700 some 45 kilometres east of New Brunswick's provincial capital city. Fulton's friends told the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal that he was a popular musician, a guitarist known as the Chet Atkins of Minto and a 2001 inductee in the Minto Country Music Wall of Fame. "It's a small, tight-knit community, and everybody knows each other," Cameron said. "That's what makes this so hard."