Man Pleads Guilty to Grafton Murders
In a June 2011 photograph, Kenneth Carter displays pictures of his stepson William Hatch and Crystal Farnham, killed in their Grafton apartment that month. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
Robert LaCombe Jr. appeared in Lebanon District Court in June 2011 to face charges for the murder of his roommates William Hatch and Crystal Farnham. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
North Haverhill — A Grafton man pleaded guilty this week to murdering his two roommates in 2011, setting the stage for a sentencing hearing later this year in which officials are likely to provide a fuller account of the crime.
Robert R. LaCombe Jr., 26, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder during a brief hearing in Grafton Superior Court in front of Judge Timothy Vaughan on Monday, Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General James Vara said in an interview.
As part of an agreement, LaCombe would be sentenced to 55 years to life in prison, with 15 years deferred, Vara said, though he could withdraw from the agreement prior to a sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled.
“It’s the first step in resolving the matter,” Vara said.
LaCombe has been held without bail since he was arrested and charged with shooting William Hatch and Hatch’s girlfriend, Crystal Farnham, on June 24, 2011 after a dispute, several weeks after Hatch and Farnham had taken in LaCombe.
Hatch and Farnham had been together for six years after meeting at Mascoma Valley Regional High School. In 2011, they took LaCombe into their home, gave him money for food and clothes, and tried to help him find a job, family members have previously told the Valley News.
LaCombe had lived with Hatch for four months when the men got into an argument on June 24, 2011, according to court documents. Hatch said he was sick of LaCombe “mooching,” off him. LaCombe, who was drunk, replied, “if it wasn’t for your mother and sister, I would call you (out) right now.”
A half hour later, Hatch’s mother and stepfather, who lived in a mobile home on the same property, heard gunshots, and saw Farnham’s black Jeep Cherokee, the only vehicle between the three roommates, parked in the driveway.
LaCombe allegedly took off. He was captured without incident at a Comfort Inn in Randolph, Mass., the day after the shootings.
Before the bodies were discovered, Lacombe called friends family members and apparently shared details of what happened. One of LaCombe’s friends called Grafton police, who entered the home and found Hatch and Farnham dead.
Authorities said LaCombe shot Hatch in the head, neck and abdomen, and Farnham in the head, chest and back.
Prosecutors filed first and second-degree murder charges against LaCombe, who had been scheduled to go to trial later this year.
Mark Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3304.
This article has been amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction ran in the Thursday, Jan. 10 edition of the Valley News:
William Hatch and Crystal Farnham took Robert LaCombe Jr. into their home in early 2011, prior to his murdering the couple on June 24, 2011. A story in yesterday's edition about LaCombe's guilty plea misstated the timing at one point.