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Man Suspected in Royalton Teen’s Disappearance Towed Scrap Trailer

  • Richard Whitcomb, of Hartford, left, arrives in Windsor Superior Court with his wife Sara Whitcomb, right, and attorney Bradley Stetler, middle, to plead not guilty to a charge of home improvement fraud in White River Junction, Vt., Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Whitcomb is under suspicion for his possible involvement in the disappearance of Royalton resident Austin Colson. Whitcomb was released on bond. (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
Monday, June 25, 2018

White River Junction — The 39-year-old Hartford man who has been named a suspect in Austin Colson’s disappearance told police in an interview that he had, in the past, towed the landscaping trailer that the pair would use to collect scrap metal.

Police seized Richard Whitcomb’s pickup truck in February, roughly a month after the 19-year-old Colson went missing. Authorities are investigating “trace evidence” found inside the Chevrolet Silverado, according to newly released court documents filed in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction.

The state moved to seal an inventory list detailing what investigators found inside the truck, the documents state.

“There is a significant chance that law enforcement may be able to distinguish between individuals who do and do not have firsthand knowledge of the circumstances of Colson’s death by questioning them regarding the trace evidence located in the Silverado truck and the barn where Colson’s body was found,” the motion to seal said. “This opportunity will be lost if the general public is made aware of the specific type of trace evidence recovered.”

Colson’s remains were found in a Norwich barn along Beaver Meadow Road in late May and his death has been ruled a homicide. He suffered gunshot wounds to the head, police have said. No one has been charged in connection with his death.

Whitcomb used to be a caretaker for the Norwich property where Colson’s remains were found, and police have conducted several searches into property Whitcomb owns.

The trailer Colson and Whitcomb used to use to collect scrap on was found abandoned the week after Colson went missing on Downer Road in Sharon. Police haven’t said how they think it ended up there, a location that sits about 8 miles north from where Colson’s remains were found.

“It is believed whoever transported the landscaping trailer to Downer Road has knowledge of, or is involved in the murder of A. Colson,” police said in the search warrant to canvas Whitcomb’s truck. “It was learned through this investigation Whitcomb was the primary means for A. Colson to transport the landscaping trailer when he was scrapping metal.”

Whitcomb is facing two federal firearms charges, and one of the counts alleges he used a handgun as collateral in a cocaine deal with Colson in January. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

An assistant U.S. attorney in February called Whitcomb a suspect in Colson’s disappearance.

Whitcomb also has pleaded not guilty to an unrelated fraud charge in Windsor Superior Court. He remains out in the community.

A message left for Whitcomb’s attorney, Bradley Stetler, wasn’t immediately returned.

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