WATERBURY — Vermont State Police say steps were missed by law enforcement in a case where a St. Johnsbury man allegedly left a treatment facility, kidnapped a woman and her child, and sexually assaulted the woman.
The man, Everett A. Simpson, 41, is currently facing felony charges in Washington County for an unrelated matter.
According to police, Simpson was in custody on charges stemming from an incident in September where he allegedly stole a vehicle and assaulted a trooper in Lyndon. He was released to Valley Vista, a substance-abuse rehabilitation facility in Bradford, on Jan. 3. Police said on the night of Jan. 4, Valley Vista notified police Simpson had left the facility because leaving the facility is a violation of Simpson’s conditions of release.
Police said a trooper, who has not been identified, tried to locate Simpson at his last known address in St. Johnsbury, but was unsuccessful. Before he ended his shift, the trooper alerted other troopers to Simpson’s disappearance.
On Jan. 5, police said a report came in regarding a vehicle that had been stolen in Newbury. The vehicle had a GPS device inside it and police said it was tracked to New Hampshire. Police said a “be on the lookout” for the vehicle was issued. The unoccupied vehicle was later located by police in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Later that night, state police learned Simpson was a suspect in a kidnapping and sexual assault case that occurred in White River Junction. Police said Simpson forced a woman and her child into their car at the Mall of New Hampshire and drove to White River Junction. He then forced the woman to rent a room at a local hotel, where he sexually assaulted her, according to police. Police said the victim was a stranger who was targeted at random.
Police obtained an arrest warrant for Simpson on Jan. 6 and he was taken into custody that night in Pennsylvania.
State police issued a statement late Tuesday night saying additional steps should have been taken in the case. Police said an arrest warrant should have been sought on Jan. 4 as well as a “be on the lookout” alert for Simpson and a press release to let the public know about him.
“The circumstances surrounding this incident are under review, including a formal investigation by the Vermont State Police Internal Affairs Unit,” the statement said.
For the Washington County case, Simpson pleaded not guilty in October to felony counts of failure to return a rented or leased vehicle and aggravated vehicle operation without the owner’s consent.
Berlin Police Officer Daniel W. Withrow said in his affidavit a report came in on Aug. 22 regarding rental vehicles that hadn’t been returned to 802 Toyota. Withrow said he went to the dealership and spoke to an employee who reported Simpson had rented two trucks from the dealership on July 19 that were supposed to be returned on Aug. 18. The employee told Withrow a family member of Simpson’s contacted the dealership on Aug. 20 stating there had been a family emergency and the trucks would be returned that day.
Withrow said the trucks hadn’t been returned by Aug. 22 and were reported as stolen. He said the agreement Simpson signed when he rented the trucks stated failure to return the trucks within 72 hours of the time they were supposed to be returned is a crime in Vermont.
On Aug. 27, the employee contacted Withrow and told him Simpson’s family member had been in contact with the dealership and reported the trucks were in St. Johnsbury and Gorham, New Hampshire.
Withrow said the truck in St. Johnsbury was found abandoned and towed back to the dealership on Sept. 11. The affidavit didn’t say whether the second truck was located or returned.
Withrow said it cost the dealership $261 to get the truck towed back from St. Johnsbury.