Prosecutor: Haverhill man arrested in slaying probe after digging for gun tied to crime

Published: 6/18/2019 10:15:27 PM
Modified: 6/18/2019 10:15:22 PM

BURLINGTON — A federal prosecutor says a North Haverhill man facing a firearms charge was arrested after he was recently spotted in a field trying to dig up a handgun that fired bullets “consistent” with the ones recovered in a Northeast Kingdom slaying last fall.

Magistrate Judge John Conroy pressed the prosecutor during a hearing Thursday in federal court in Burlington for detailed evidence in the case against John Welch, 33, who is charged with being an unlawful user of a controlled substance knowingly in possession of a firearm. The prosecution says it has evidence linking Welch to the handgun used in the shooting death of 37-year-old Michael Pimental of Waterford, Vt.

Police and prosecutors have been tight-lipped about the investigation into Pimental’s death since his body was found Oct. 14 along a dirt road in Concord, Vt., about 15 miles from his home. According to court and state records, Pimental was shot multiple times in the head and torso.

His girlfriend, Krystal Whitcomb, and her father, Shawn Whitcomb, were arrested on federal firearms and drug charges shortly after Pimental’s body was located. A third person, Michael Anthony Hayes Sr., also has been charged with conspiring to unlawfully possess ammunition.

At the time of his death, according to court records, Pimental as well as the Whitcombs were under investigation by the Vermont Drug Task Force for allegedly dealing large quantities of heroin and fentanyl. But no one has yet been charged directly with killing Pimental, though prosecutors have said in court filings they are considering bringing offenses that carry the possibility of the death penalty as their investigation continues.

Welch, who became the fourth person charged in connection with the homicide probe, was ordered to remain in custody. Welch had been arrested at gunpoint by the New Hampshire State Police SWAT team on June 7 in the Aldrich General Store parking lot in North Haverhill, the Caledonian Record reported.

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