Crime

Vermont State Police Log: Investigation results in felony charges

ADDISON COUNTY — Vermont State Police were involved with the investigation that this week led to charges against 83-year-old Wentworth C. Comes Jr. of Hancock. Comes on Monday pleaded not guilty in Addison County Superior Court, Criminal Division, three felony counts of possession of child sexual abuse material and two misdemeanor counts of possession of child sexual abuse materials, according to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. 

The charges are the result of a criminal investigation conducted by the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (VT-ICAC), including staff from the Attorney General’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, State Police, and Randolph Police Department.

The investigation was initiated when VT-ICAC received three CyberTipline reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The tips were reported by Microsoft after an individual uploaded files of suspected child sexual abuse materials onto their cloud storage servers. Based on investigation of those tips and a search of his home, Comes was identified as a suspect. Officers said they located the suspected child sexual abuse material on Comes’s laptop and SD card.

On Monday, Judge David Fenster released Comes with conditions that restrict his access to minors, electronic devices and the internet.

To make a report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, call anytime 1-800-843-5678 or visit report.cybertip.org. Additionally, if you are recovering from child sexual exploitation, you do not have to navigate it alone. NCMEC can help with emotional and peer support, removing content from the internet, and locating mental health professionals. For more information, visit missingkids.org/gethelpnow/csam-resources or call 1-800-843-5678.

In other recent activity, Vermont State Police cited two different people in separate domestic violence cases.

In the first incident, on May 17 at a few minutes before 6 p.m., troopers responded to a report of an altercation occurring at a home on Hooker Road in Leicester. Police report that Kevin A. Betourney, 60, of Leicester attempted to cause serious bodily injury to a family member. 

Troopers took Betourney into custody, transported him to the New Haven barracks, and cited him for first degree aggravated domestic assault.

In the second case, state police on May 18 at 8:43 p.m. took a report of an assault involving a household member on Plank Road in Ferrisburgh. Troopers arrived at the scene and found Heather Rule, 33, of Orwell. Police said evidence indicated Rule assaulted several parties known to her during a reported family fight.

Police cited Rule for domestic assault, burglary and simple assault.

State police were also busy on the roads last week. 

On May 17 at approximately 8:23 a.m., troopers responded to a crash involving a motorcycle and two cars on Bristol Road near East View Road in Monkton. Police report that Michael Brown, 81, of Essex Junction was driving a 2017 Honda Civic northbound, followed by a 2009 Subaru Outback and then a 2019 Harley-Davidson motorcycle. 

Police said that the motorcycle driver, Wesley Doner, 53, of Middlebury, attempted to pass both cars when Brown activated the Honda Civic’s turn signal and initiated a left turn. As a result, the motorcycle struck the rear-end of the Honda and the driver’s side of the Subaru. Donner was ejected from the motorcycle and the Bristol Rescue Squad transported him to UVM Medical Center to be treated for broken bones. Nobody else was injured in crash.

State police expected to issue a traffic ticket to Doner.

Troopers were assisted on scene by the Monkton Fire Department.

A few hours later, police dealt with another crash, this one on Monkton Road in Bristol.

At around a quarter after noon on the 17th, troopers responded to a report that a vehicle had struck a pedestrian riding a lawn mower in the front yard of a home on Monkton Road. Police said their investigation showed that Hunter Poquette, 22, of Bristol was driving a 2005 Ford F-350 pickup truck northbound when he crossed the centerline and left the roadway off the southbound lane. His vehicle struck Bruce Duncan, 67, who was riding a lawn mower in his front yard. 

Bristol Rescue rushed Duncan to UVM Medical Center for suspected serious bodily injuries.

While on scene, troopers discovered Poquette had an active warrant for his arrest. So police arrested Poquette, issued a citation for negligent driving and took him to Addison County Superior Court in fulfillment of the warrant. They also issued Poquette a traffic ticket.

Troopers were assisted on scene by members of the Bristol police and Bristol fire departments.

In a different kind of traffic case, state police on May 19 at a minute past midnight stopped a vehicle on Court Street in Middlebury after multiple observed violations near the Mobil gas station. Police ended up citing Brandon R. Yandow, 27, of Burlington for driving under the influence, fifth offense, driving with a criminally suspended license and violation of condition of release.

Police also issued tickets for violations they called “misuse of number plates,” “tail lights,” “operating without liability insurance,” “persons required to register” and “passenger possessed open container.” in total, these misdemeanors could carry fines of $638.

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