North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- Police are searching for a man who broke into Berkshire County Construction Tuesday night, brutally mutilating and killing five pet rabbits at the Ashland Street business before setting off an alarm and fleeing on foot.
Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco said the suspect, caught on video by the company’s surveillance cameras, seemed to fly into a rage after failing to break into a truck.
"Immediately after not being able to get into the truck, he basically attacked 15 rabbits in coops over there. As a result, five animals are dead -- four adults and a baby," he said.
A $7,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for mutilating the rabbits is being offered by the Massachusetts Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law Enforcement Division, the city’s Animal Control Department, the Duquette family and Jay Curtis of Curtis Lumber.
"It was brutal," said Sgt. Roy Sutton of MSPCA law enforcement. " I would call it a mutilation and a killing."
"In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this. It was horrible," Morocco said.
State Police K-9 units were scouring the area around Berkshire County Construction Wednesday afternoon, hoping to pick up the suspect’s scent, while other officers were taking fingerprints at the crime scene.
Tracy Duquette, whose husband, John Duquette Jr.,
"This person has to be caught," she said. "What kind of person could do this? This person had no remorse; no conscious. This was an act of violence -- meaningless and psychotic. What scares me is that this person is still out there. He could do harm to a person."
Duquette said the break-in occurred between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. She said her husband received a call from the alarm company at about 9:07 p.m., followed by a call from the police, after the suspect threw a rock through the shop’s window and busted open the door to the business.
"When John called me, all he could say was ‘You would not believe what happened.’ It was awful," she said.
Connie Zieba, girlfriend of John Duquette Sr., described the scene as "something you see in a movie -- something that’s done by a serial killer."
"On the video, you can see the man try to open the door of the truck. When he can’t, he gets a two-by-four and opens the rabbit cage and starts beating the rabbits," she said.
The video shows the suspect beat the rabbits, rip off their ears and tails with his bare hands and hang one up by the neck with a chain.
"He keeps pacing back and forth on the video -- trying the door of the truck five times," Zieba said. "He flipped over the hutch, which takes two people to move, on his own. It looked like some rage fueled by adrenaline. This person needs to be caught, but putting him in jail isn’t enough. He needs some kind of treatment."
Duquette said her husband installed video cameras and an alarm system in the shop after the business was robbed several times -- thieves made off with torches, welders, scaffolding and a cement chute in the past. A motorcycle and a few rabbits, along with hutches and food, were stolen around Easter.
"Material things are replaceable, but this is just unnecessary," Duquette said. "These were our pets. We bring them home. I don’t know what I’m going to tell my 6-year-old daughter. I can’t tell her what really happened. I don’t want to tell her there really are monsters out there."
Morocco said the suspect is described as a white male, 16 to 20 years old, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 140-160 pounds and of slight build. He was wearing black-and-gray camouflage pants, a dark hooded sweatshirt and a red-and-white baseball cap (red on the back and bill and white on the front). He was also carrying a black-and-white backpack.
Police are also investigating two other incidences of vandalism that occurred nearby: A camper at Windsor Lake was broken into at 7:44 p.m. on Tuesday, and Construction Drilling Inc. on Ashland Street, which is directly across the street from Berkshire County Construction, reported two trucks had windows smashed on Tuesday night. Police suspect all three instances of vandalism are related but have yet to confirm that.
Sutton said the suspect faces felony charges of malicious destruction of the animal of another and cruelty to animals and could face up to 2 1/2 years in state prison and up to a $2,500 fine, if convicted. He also would face local charges of breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony, wanton destruction of property over $250 and intent to commit a crime (larceny of a motor vehicle).
Anyone with information regarding the crime is asked to call Det. Ron Ciepiela or Officer Zachary Wood at the North Adams station, (413) 664-4945, or Sgt. Sutton in Pittsfield, (413) 448-6046 or (800) 628-5808.
Transcript Editor Glenn Drohan contributed to this report.