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Authorities Await Autopsy of ‘Human Remains’ Found in Norwich Barn

  • 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
Thursday, May 24, 2018

Norwich — Officials have yet to release the results of the autopsy on suspected human remains that were found in a Norwich barn on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Vermont State Police actively are continuing to work on the investigation into Austin Colson’s disappearance, Lt. John-Paul Schmidt said on Thursday.

Authorities on Wednesday canvassed the large barn at 714 Beaver Meadow Road in connection with Colson’s case and said they found physical evidence tied to his disappearance.

There are no charges pending against anyone suspected of harming Colson.

Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill said he hasn’t received a case from police, a necessary step in order to prosecute.

“Although the facts of Austin Colson’s disappearance are now several months old ... the discovery of suspected remains occurred just yesterday,” Cahill said on Thursday. “We are committed to bringing the killer to justice, but we also want to get this right.”

The only court document that was available to the public in Windsor Superior Court on Thursday in Colson’s case was a motion from Judge Timothy Tomasi sealing the search warrant materials. The state moved to seal the documents.

“This incident involves ongoing and fast-moving investigation into a missing person. Multiple witnesses and avenues of investigation are being pursued. Foul play is a distinct possibility,” the motion, that was signed by the judge in late January, states.

The scene outside of the Norwich barn was much calmer on Thursday. Only one marked cruiser sat backed into the driveway of the home, and the crime scene tape that cordoned off the property lay on the ground.

Colson went missing on Jan. 11, the day his family members say he was slated to collect scrap metal with White River Junction resident Richard Whitcomb, who has been named in federal court paperwork as a suspect in Colson’s disappearance. The trailer the pair was going to use was found abandoned with scrap on Downer Road in Sharon the following week.

Whitcomb faces federal firearms charges, one of which asserts he used a handgun as collateral in a cocaine deal with Colson in January.

A message left for Whitcomb wasn’t returned by deadline. Whitcomb’s attorney Bradley Stetler, of Burlington, said on Thursday he had no comment.

Cahill, the state’s attorney, said Whitcomb is out in the community. His last known residence was Connecticut River Road.

Cahill declined to comment further.

“We cannot comment in detail at this time,” Cahill said. “Both state and federal authorities are on task and are doing what it takes to protect the public.”

U.S. Attorney’s Office Spokesman Kraig LaPorte declined to comment.

A federal court judge last month approved Whitcomb’s request to go to a drug rehabilitation facility in Bradford, Vt., pending trial, but there were questions at the time about whether he would be able to go.

A document filed in an unrelated fraud case in Windsor Superior Court indicates that Whitcomb was slated to be released from federal custody on April 25 and report directly to Valley Vista for residential treatment.

The document states that Whitcomb would appear in the White River Junction courthouse on May 29 for an arraignment in the fraud case, which alleges he cashed a $3,000 check to build a deck for a Hartford man but never followed through with the job, according to a police affidavit.

But that hearing has been postponed until June 19.

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