June 8, 2005
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Gregory Despres in a police mugshot. (AP)
BOSTON -- Gregory Allan Despres was supposed to be going to jail the morning folks spotted him hitchhiking to the U.S. border with a bloody chainsaw. His trousers were spattered with blood. Inside his backpack he had a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife and brass knuckles. He was also packing pepper spray and wearing a bullet-proof vest.
The 22-year-old man with the Mohawk haircut and bugged-out eyes still got rides in friendly New Brunswick. And incredibly, in this dawn of intense border security, he still made it through customs. After customs officers fingerprinted him and seized his arsenal, including the chainsaw, they let him go.
According to police, Mr. Despres, believed to be a naturalized American citizen, told the border guards he was in the U.S military.
They didn't know he was running from the law, let alone linked to the killings of his elderly next-door neighbours in Minto, an old coal mining town in central New Brunswick -- killings that ended a years-long, violent feud.
The Mounties didn't find the bodies of Frederick Fulton, 74, and his wife Veronica Decarie, 70, until the next day. They had been stabbed in their bedroom.
Police found the body of Mr. Fulton, a country singer, on the kitchen floor, just a few feet from his head, which had been stuffed in a pillow case and shoved under the breakfast table.
According to a U.S Attorney's complaint, filed by the U.S. Attorney's office as part of the extradition case and obtained by the Citizen, after he was stopped at the border Canadian and American authorities consented to his release into the United States.
At the time he crossed the border he was free on bail. That morning -- April 25 -- he was to have been sentenced for threatening to kill his neighbour's son-in-law. Mr. Fulton and Ms. Decarie had just been slain.
Mr. Despres changed his trousers, which were spattered in blood, behind a shop in St. Stephen, N.B, and then walked up to the U.S. Customs booth on foot, with the bloodied chainsaw strapped to his backpack. He made it to the border crossing at 10 a.m., just hours after the double homicide.
Eddie Young, a 38-year-old fish-plant worker, sat next to Mr. Despres in the customs office at Calais, Maine, while the agents processed them. Mr. Young was on his way to catch a flight to Mexico with friends, but was detained when the officers noticed on his file a 20-year-old drug conviction in Ottawa.
"When he come in, they opened his bag up and they took out," Mr. Young said in an interview. "It looked like large bayonets to me, but they could have been a little bit longer for swords, and then two pairs of brass knuckles fastened to his bag, a chainsaw and what looked like a flak jacket."
Mr. Young said the U.S. customs agents appeared to be joking around.
"I watched the customs guys fling the swords around in the back room," he said. "I mean, wouldn't the evidence be ruined with their fingerprints?"
Mr. Young said Mr. Despres was treated better than he was.
"When I come back in (to the room) they were giving him a coffee," he said. "He got processed faster than I did."