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Hartford Man Linked to Colson Case Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud Charge

  • 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
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

White River Junction — The White River Junction man who has been listed in federal court documents as a suspect in Austin Colson’s disappearance appeared in Windsor Superior Court this morning for an arraignment in connection with an unrelated fraud allegation.

Richard P. Whitcomb Jr., 39, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of home improvement fraud and was released on an a $5,000 unsecured appearance bond.

Windsor Superior Court Judge Timothy Tomasi also ordered Whitcomb to have no contact with the alleged victim, Roger Tenney, and his wife.

Whitcomb and his attorney, Bradley Stetler, declined to comment as they exited the White River Junction courthouse.

The Windsor County State’s Attorney’s Office filed the charge on April 5, alleging Whitcomb cashed a $3,000 check to build a deck for Tenney, but never followed through with the job, according to a Hartford police affidavit written by officer Daniel Solomita.

Whitcomb allegedly cashed the check for the deck work on Nov. 28 and had said he would deliver materials to the man’s Hartford home but never did, the affidavit states.

Tenney went to police on Feb. 19, which was four days after a federal judge ordered Whitcomb held without bail pending trial on two federal gun charges in U.S. District Court in Burlington. Whitcomb is a felon, so he is not allowed to posses weapons.

Evidence of Whitcomb’s alleged federal crimes were discovered during the investigation into the disappearance of the 19-year-old Colson. One of the charges alleges Whitcomb used a handgun as collateral in a cocaine deal with Colson in January, federal court documents indicate.

Colson went missing on Jan. 11, and his remains were found last month in a barn in Norwich. Whitcomb had been a caretaker for the property on Beaver Meadow Road where Colson’s remains were found, police have said.

Colson died of gun shot wounds to the head and his death has been ruled a homicide. No one has been charged in connection with his death.

Although Whitcomb was initially held on the federal charges, he was later released to attend a drug rehabilitation facility in Bradford, Vt. He is now residing at his home on Connecticut River Road in White River Junction, court documents indicate.

Whitcomb’s wife, Sara, and two other women accompanied him in court.

Whitcomb is next due in Windsor Superior Court on July 23. The date of his next court hearing in federal court in Burlington hasn’t been scheduled.

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