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Colson Probe At Standstill Pending Tests

  • Vermont State Police and members of a Vermont technical rescue team work in and around a barn where human remains were found in Norwich, Vt., Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Searchers were trying to locate missing Royalton, Vt. man Austin Colson, but the remains found have not been identified. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

White River Junction — The homicide investigation into the fatal shooting of Austin Colson is in a “holding pattern” as police wait for ballistic tests and other evidence to be analyzed, Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, new documents released in Windsor Superior Court this week say that the Hartford man identified as a suspect in Colson’s disappearance in federal court papers was a caretaker at the Norwich property where the Royalton teen’s remains were found.

Richard Whitcomb had access to the Beaver Meadow Road property, including outbuildings, because he was the caretaker there for owner Bukk Carleton, according to a redacted search warrant affidavit for Carleton’s property obtained from the White River Junction courthouse.

On Feb. 1, Vermont State Police followed up on a tip about a “body sighting” at 714 Beaver Meadow Road, State Police Detective Sgt. Tyson Kinney wrote in the affidavit. The affidavit doesn’t say where the tip came from.

While on scene, police found Colson’s partially frozen baseball hat near an old barn where the 19-year-old’s remains later were found on May 23.

Police also located shell casings, a cigarette butt with Colson’s DNA, and gloves. Police didn’t find human remains during that February search, though, the affidavit says.

But on May 23, after the spring thaw, police went back to the property, searched the barn and found Colson’s remains, police have said.

Cahill said on Tuesday that part of what was redacted from the affidavit were the types of trace evidence that may have been collected at the Beaver Meadow Road property that could be linked to other locations in the case, such as where the trailer with scrap metal that Colson and Whitcomb were thought to be using on Jan. 11, the day Colson disappeared, was found.

The trailer was located the following week on Downer Road, which is about 8 miles north of the Beaver Meadow Road farmhouse.

“It’s a long process of comparing trace evidence,” Cahill said. He declined to comment on what types of evidence authorities may be zeroing in on.

Colson’s autopsy revealed that he was shot more than once in the head. Because there are bullet wounds, “there is ballistic work to be done,” Cahill said.

“It is a case that is in a holding pattern. (We are) waiting for the forensics to come back,” he said.

No one currently is facing charges in connection with Colson’s homicide.

In another development, Vermont State Police have confirmed that Daniel Caron told investigators he saw Colson with Whitcomb and others on Jan. 10, the day before Colson disappeared. A story in the Valley News last week included information from a police affidavit for a search warrant that incorrectly said Caron had told police he had seen them together on the day Colson was last seen.

Several of those affidavits show data retrieved from cellphones and at least one witness contradict the version of events Whitcomb provided to police after Colson disappeared.

Whitcomb, who faces federal firearms charges, remains out in the community.

He has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges, one of which alleges he used a handgun as collateral in a cocaine deal with Colson in January. That case is still pending.

Messages left for Whitcomb weren’t returned on Tuesday.

Whitcomb also faces a fraud charge out of Windsor Superior Court that accuses him of cashing a $3,000 check to build a deck for a Hartford man but never followed through with the job.

He is schedule to be arraigned on that charge on June 19.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.