Man thought to have set fire in one house, damaged others

PLYMOUTH — The man authorities have charged with several felonies involving burglaries and arson in Grafton and Belknap counties remains at the Grafton County Department of Corrections jail in lieu of $20,000 cash bail.
A judge upheld the initial bail amount for Jacob A. Cohen during his arraignment on Thursday, according to investigator Matthew Wilmot of the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Cohen, 20, whom authorities list as being homeless, was arrested on Oct. 4 in Plymouth by the Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Investigations and the State Police Troop E Detective Division, with assistance from the Plymouth Police Department and State Police Troop F.
Wilmot said the charges are the result of a coordinated effort by law enforcement to solve the break-ins that occurred at  properties in the Winona Road area of New Hampton in early May. Fires were set in one house, and there was damage unrelated to fire at several other properties, Wilmot said.
Cohen faces one Class A felony charge of conspiracy to commit arson, two Class B felony charges of burglary, two Class B felony charges of criminal mischief, and one Class B misdemeanor charge of fuel gas fitting without a license.
“We incorporated other law enforcement agencies to assist, and this investigation wouldn’t have been possible without the resources from multiple agencies working together for a successful conclusion,” Wilmot said.
In addition to the agencies already listed, those participating in the joint investigation included the New Hampton Police Department, Ashland Police Department, Center Harbor Police Department, and Belmont Police Department.
Wilmot said no trial has yet been set, and other felony charges are likely.

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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Belmont family is grateful for return of lost photos

BELMONT — An employee of Busby Construction, which is overseeing road improvements on Route 106, became a hero to a Laconia family that had lost a box of family photographs at the side of the road.
Diane Piscopo said she was very grateful to John Keith for finding the box and bringing it to the Belmont Police Department, which then posted the find on Facebook.
Noting that the pictures were found near Leavitt Road on Route 106, the police department urged readers to “Please share this post so we can get these family photographs to their rightful owner.”
The post was picked up by the news media and Piscopo said a family friend saw it on the 5 a.m. news and later called Diane’s husband, Edward. He then texted Diane, who was at a doctor’s appointment.
“How nice to have someone like that,” she said of Keith. “Those pictures can’t be replaced, and I’m so grateful that man brought them to the police department. I’m not sure everyone would do that.”
She said they were moving things out of Belmont Storage and must have lost a bin that got loose. The pictures included a kindergarten photo of her daughter and one of Diane in third grade.
“I called Busby and thanked him for turning them in,” she said. “I also asked him where exactly it was that he found them, in case we’d lost anything else, and he said he’d go back and check, and he did. In this day and age, you need something good, and to know there are good people out there.”

10 06 Photos
Family photos lost at the side of the road were discovered by John Keith of Busby Construction, who turned them in to the Belmont Police Department. Posting the images on Facebook led to Diane and Edward Piscopo's recovery of the irreplaceable family memories. (Courtesy Photo/Belmont Police Department)

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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Alton Police still searching for man who fled into swamp

ALTON — Police are asking for help from the public in locating a man they say fled from a traffic stop and kicked down the door of a home on Old Wolfeboro Road.
The case began when Cpl. Phil Hunter, an evening supervisor, attempted to stop a driver for a speeding violation, and the vehicle fled into the parking lot of a new auto wash business on Route 28 North.
Police Chief Ryan Heath said that, as Hunter approached, the driver fled on foot across the highway, leaving his vehicle in drive, so it began free-rolling toward the road. Hunter chased the vehicle and put it in park before taking up foot pursuit.
The man, whom police identified as Matthew Williams, fled into the woods almost directly behind the police department, and Hunter contacted the K9 unit to track the fleeing man. The dog was able to follow Williams’s trail to a spot where he lost his shoes in the wetlands behind the station, but lost the scent as the swamp got deeper and harder to traverse.
During the foot pursuit, a resident of Old Wolfeboro Road called to report an intruder. The residents were awakened from sleep around 3 a.m. Friday by a loud crash, and they went through the house to determine what had caused the noise, turning on lights as they went. They found that the basement door had been kicked in.
Heath said officers found the door damaged and fresh footprints leading from the house. They concluded that Williams got spooked when the residents lit up the area.
Officers tried a secondary track later Friday morning, but were unsuccessful.
They impounded the vehicle and found that it was registered to Williams, and Hunter was able to match a photograph to the man he had seen fleeing, giving them a positive identification of Williams.
Police obtained a warrant on Friday afternoon that would allow them to search the vehicle for additional information.
Meanwhile, Heath is asking anyone who has had contact with Williams to call Cpl. Hunter at 875-0757.

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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