Church Arson Suspect Rages in Court

  • Anthony Boisvert screams that he also attempted to hurt family members as the Lebanon police prosecutor reads aloud seven felony charges being brought against Boisvert at the Lebanon District Court, on Tuesday morning, January 3, 2016. Boisvert is being charged in connection with two alleged stabbings, arson, and witness tampering. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — John Happel

  • Lebanon Police Prosecutor Ben DeLuc reads aloud seven felony charges being brought against 27-year-old Anthony Boisvert, of Lebanon, in connection with alleged arson, first degree assault, and witness tampering. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Anthony Boisvert's sister, Andrea Gilbert, listens to the police prosecutor read aloud charges alleging that Gilbert falsified physical evidence in connection with her brother's alleged crimes in Lebanon District Court, Tuesday, January 3, 2017. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Tanya Boisvert, foreground, sits with Karla Santor as charges are read against her husband, 27-year-old Anthony Boisvert, at Lebanon District Court, Tuesday, January 3, 2017. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News photographs — John J. Happel

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/4/2017 12:29:12 AM
Modified: 1/5/2017 4:10:23 PM

Lebanon — The man accused of burning down the First Baptist Church told police he broke into the 19th-century landmark last week and masturbated to internet images of girls on a church computer before setting fire to an American flag and leaving the building to watch it burn from afar, according to an affidavit filed in Lebanon District Court.

Suspected arsonist Anthony K. Boisvert had more than one disturbing outburst during his video arraignment on Tuesday, including threats to kill and cannibalize family members.

When Judge Henrietta Luneau asked Boisvert if he wanted to speak on the issue of bail, he responded with threats of violence.

“I think you should give me about $500 bail so I can go out and stab my cousin to death and maybe kill my aunt and my uncle ... and maybe I can cut them up and eat them out of a frying pan,” Boisvert said.

The 27-year-old Boisvert was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail in connection with seven felony charges, including three counts of arson, two counts of witness tampering and two counts of first-degree assault (PDF), stemming from the stabbing of two people at the Boulders Condominiums complex on Sunday night. The victims had talked to police about Boisvert’s alleged involvement in starting fires.

Boisvert’s twin sister, Andrea Gilbert, also was arraigned on Tuesday in Lebanon District Court in connection with her brother’s case.

Gilbert is accused of falsifying physical evidence, a felony charge, and is being held on $5,000 cash bail. Police say Gilbert erased information on her cellphone to keep it from investigators, according to an affidavit filed in her case.

Both Boisvert and Gilbert have probable cause hearings scheduled for Jan. 10 in the Lebanon courthouse.

Tuesday’s court proceeding gave the fullest account yet of what police allege was Boisvert’s involvement in multiple arsons and the investigation that led to the charges against him.

In the days following the Dec. 28 church fire, police received information from several people who accused Boisvert of setting the blaze and a second one a short time later at an apartment building at 68 Mascoma St., according to the affidavit in his case.

Those individuals told police that on the night of the fires Boisvert had been at a social gathering, where he bragged about having set fires previously in Lebanon and Wilder. He also allegedly urged others in attendance to “watch the news” because he was going to “do something big in Lebanon on that night,” the affidavit said.

One of the people who spoke with investigators was Wade Bennett, the man Boisvert is accused of stabbing on Sunday night.

Around 9 p.m. on Sunday, police received a call from Boisvert’s wife, Tanya, who said she believed her husband was at Bennett’s residence and that she was concerned her husband was going to hurt himself or someone else, according to the affidavit.

While police were en route, the dispatch center received a 911 call reporting a double stabbing at Bennett’s residence, the affidavit said. The caller said Boisvert stabbed a man and a woman and then fled the area.

Police found the 52-year-old Bennett and Diane Faughnan, 66, with multiple stab wounds to their heads, necks or bodies. According to a Dartmouth-Hitchcock spokesman on Tuesday, Faughnan is in fair condition. The spokesman said he couldn’t release an updated condition report for Bennett.

Police arrested Boisvert around 10:15 p.m. on Sunday outside the Tannery Lane apartment he shares with several family members, including Gilbert.

Boisvert allegedly confessed multiple times to stabbing Bennett and Faughnan, setting fire to the church and to the Mascoma Street apartment building on Dec. 28, and also to setting a fire that destroyed an abandoned home on Hanover Street Extension last January, according to the affidavit.

He told police he set the fire in the apartment building because he knew some children lived there, the affidavit said.

He also told police he broke into the Carter Community Building Association and the Upper Valley Senior Center to look for money while authorities were preoccupied with the burning church.

“He then went to the Listen Center and stood and watched the fire at the church for a period of time,” according to the affidavit.

Boisvert went into graphic detail about the church fire. He told police he forced entry into the building through the doors facing Green Street. Once inside, he watched child pornography “and/or young girl gymnastics on the rectory computer as he masturbated into a dirty diaper” that he found in the church nursery, according to the affidavit. He then entered the main church, where he lit an American flag on fire.

“Once he knew it was burning fully, he exited the church,” the affidavit said.

Police attempted to locate Boisvert over the weekend, but concluded he had fled the area, according to a police statement released on Monday.

In the days after the church fire, police interviewed several of Boisvert’s relatives, who told police they didn’t know Boisvert’s whereabouts. Police, however, examined some of those relatives’ cellphones, which revealed that Boisvert had been in contact with some of them and that they might have helped him flee, according to the affidavit filed in court.

During Boisvert’s arraignment on Tuesday, prosecutor Ben LeDuc argued for $500,000 cash bail to ensure the public’s safety.

“The facts of this case are both disturbing as well as concerning in that if he is released, the state has no confidence that the community will be safe,” LeDuc said.

While LeDuc was reading aloud the facts that support each of the charges against Boisvert, the suspect interrupted and shouted, “don’t forget I tried to kill my cousin.” The judge quickly interjected, telling Boisvert to “have a seat.”

Boisvert has a criminal record in New Hampshire that dates back to 2006 and includes drug possession, theft and burglary charges, as well as a 2016 criminal trespassing conviction in connection with a break-in at Lebanon’s Hanover Street School. He also has an active case in Vermont: he faces 12 misdemeanor counts of possessing child pornography in connection with a 2011 incident where he allegedly used a lobby computer to view child pornography while staying at the Super 8 Motel in White River Junction.

A warrant was issued for his arrest when he was charged in that case, but he wasn’t arrested on that warrant until last April, according to his docket sheet in Windsor Superior Court. He is scheduled to appear in the White River Junction courthouse for a status conference on Jan. 31.

The investigation into Boisvert is ongoing and additional charges could be filed, LeDuc said.

Boisvert does not yet have an attorney. He didn’t enter pleas on Tuesday; in New Hampshire, an individual can’t enter a plea to a felony charge in district court.

Lebanon police Lt. Matthew Isham, who attended Boisvert’s arraignment, said he was told that some of Boisvert’s family members attended the 146-year-old First Baptist Church. Authorities have not offered a definitive motive for the alleged arson there or at the apartment building, and officials declined to expand on the facts of the case on Tuesday.

Boisvert’s mother, Karla Santor, and his wife were in the gallery during his arraignment on Tuesday.

The pair leaned on each other and sobbed quietly during Boisvert’s outbursts. They immediately left the courthouse when the hearing came to a close.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at or 603-727-3248.
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