Police Find Vt. Man in Home's Secret Crawl Space - NBC 7 San Diego
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Police Find Vt. Man in Home's Secret Crawl Space

A tenant of the multi-unit house claimed to police that the property was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, hinting that there were hiding spaces inside



    Man Accused of Hiding From Police in Secret Compartment

    Police in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, say a man went to extreme lengths to avoid capture when he hid in a covert compartment in a home.

    (Published Tuesday, March 12, 2019)

    Police in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, say a man went to extreme lengths to avoid capture.

    Shawn Rich, 40, allegedly hid inside a covert compartment in a home which a tenant claimed was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, according to police.

    “There’s three levels, a large basement, multiple little closet spaces and hidey holes—so there was a lot of places inside the residence that he could’ve been in,” Sgt. Mark Bickford of the St. Johnsbury Police Department said of the house on Spring Street.

    Bickford told necn and NBC 10 Boston that a warrant was recently issued for Rich after the state said he didn’t complete his time on a court-ordered work crew.

    New Study Says Beards are 'Dirtier' Than Dogs

    [NATL] New Study Says Beards are 'Dirtier' Than Dogs

    A recent study suggests that a man's beard contains more germs than a dog's fur. All 18 men's beards studied by researchers at Switzerland's Hirslanden Clinic had higher levels of bacteria in them, compared to only 23 out of 30 dogs. Some beards had so much beard bacteria the men could get sick, the study says.

    (Published Wednesday, April 24, 2019)

    Rich was convicted last year of a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace.

    According to a late-2018 report in the Caledonian Record newspaper, Rich pleaded no contest to accusations he sent threatening messages when he felt he was owed money from a construction job.

    Bickford said when the police investigation brought them to Spring Street, at first it didn’t seem their guy was around until another tenant of the multi-unit residence told them a local rumor: that the 1840s home used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, hiding escaped slaves.

    After about 25 minutes of searching, Bickford said investigators discovered the suspect inside a disguised nook built into a closet.

    “You can’t hide forever,” the sergeant noted, smiling.

    According to the initial press release from police, they also found a sleeping bag in the secret crawl space, along with a jar Rich apparently used as a bathroom.

    Bickford said the front of the home was equipped with a camera that might have given Rich a heads-up to hide when the investigators arrived with a search warrant.

    Peggy Pearl at the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center said she can’t be sure if the home really was on the Underground Railroad, though others across Vermont certainly were.

    “They were lots of times, in the basement,” Pearl said of known hiding spaces in properties on the Underground Railroad.

    Pearl said she knew of another home in St. Johnsbury which was long rumored to have been a safe space for runaway slaves, but said the work would’ve been so top secret, it wasn’t always documented—so questions remain.

    “Once anybody was onto that, if it got to the wrong person and you were exposed—that was it,” Pearl said of the work by people who were a part of the Underground Railroad.

    As for Rich, police said he is due in court in late April, along with a woman accused of helping him hide.

    Mumps Outbreak Hits Indiana University

    [NATL] Mumps Outbreak Hits Indiana University

    Officials at Indiana University's main campus say they now have 20 confirmed cases of mumps at the school as of February. Cases were logged among students in dormitories and off-campus housing.

    (Published Tuesday, April 23, 2019)

    Another suspect acquainted with Rich was also taken into custody on a warrant, Bickford said, adding that work on the case is ongoing.

    It is unclear if the subjects of the investigation have secured attorneys ahead of the April 29 court dates.