By Eric Francis
Special To The Standard
A 2010 Woodstock Union High School graduate is now back out on bail while he awaits trial on three felony and seven misdemeanor charges that he racked up over the course of this summer.
Richard Hurd, 19, of White River Junction is the principle suspect in a series of thefts of items from cars that took place in July all around the village of Woodstock, and police say that he also confessed to pilfering vehicles that were parked in Quechee and Barnard during the same time period.
Before he was arrested for breaking into cars, Hurd was also the target of a sting operation conducted by the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force that said their detectives observed Hurd selling a single oxycodone pill to a cooperating informant on March 8th in an alleyway near the American Legion in White River Junction. Members of the task force reported that Hurd was bragging on their recorded surveillance tapes that his latest shipment of pills were “selling fast” and that he could get discounts for those willing to purchase thirty or more at a time.
Hurd failed to appear in court on September 13 for arraignment on a slate of charges connected to those earlier incidents and then, just two days later, he was picked up behind the wheel of a smashed car in Springfield where police reported that Hurd’s passenger claimed that the car was the second vehicle Hurd had stolen and wrecked that evening.
Hurd was charged the same afternoon with felony possession of stolen property, operating a vehicle without the consent of the owner, and attempting to elude police. He was initially jailed for lack of $5,000 bail but it was posted for him two days later.
During his court appearance, Hurd also entered innocent pleas to a felony count of burglary and five misdemeanor counts of petty larceny covering over a dozen incursions into cars that took place during the final week of July, mostly around the village of Woodstock.
Police got their break in those cases just after midnight on July 29th when a group of teenagers who were headed out for a late night dip in Silver Lake walked to their vehicles parked along Rose Hill in Woodstock and surprised Hurd as he was going through them. Alex Melville and then Mary Kanzler gave chase, according to the police report, with Melville initially confronting Hurd after he ran 50 feet into the woods beside the road and tried to hide.
Melville immediately recognized Hurd but would later describe him as having been listless and “not very alert” as though he was under the influence of drugs. “I have a gun,” Hurd warned, according to the affidavit; however, when Melville responded with, “Okay, show me the gun,” Hurd did not reply at which point Melville insisted that Hurd return whatever he had just stolen.
Hurd tried to walk away repeatedly, but faced with the persistent demands, he eventually gave back three wallets along with Melville’s iPhone and iPod.
As Hurd again tried to leave, 18-year-old Mary Kanzler picked up the pursuit, recalling in her written statement to police, “I further chased after him, asking him why he took my wallet the previous night and saying I needed it back.”
Kanzler continued, “He said nothing and kept walking so I screamed after him ‘why?’ and he turned around and threw the remaining wallets at me including more money. Then he proceeded to run; however, by that time a new girl arrived at the bottom of the hill (who was) clearly with him and asking us what he was up to. After learning what had happened she said she didn’t want to be a part of it and drove off quickly,” Kanzler wrote, adding, “She had a giant (shoulder) bag and sounded under the influence of drugs (like) Richard. By then the officer had arrived.”
Woodstock Police Officer Peter Mantello later identified the female driver as Emma Jozefiak, 18, of South Royalton who served as the senior captain of the Lady Royals baseball team there last spring.
Jozefiak was charged with providing false information to police after she allegedly told Mantello during an interview at the police station on July 30 that she had simply responded to a text message from Hurd to pick him up at the Rec Center and left without him after she heard that he had been stealing things.
After interviewing Hurd, police re-contacted Jozefiak on August 1 and Mantello said she admitted that she had actually dropped Hurd off on the Woodstock Green knowing that he planned to go “car hopping” while she waited for him to call her for a pickup and that she did pick him up and drive him to White River Junction shortly after he was confronted by the group of WUHS students on Rose Hill.
“Emma stated she knew ‘car hopping’ was stealing from cars,” Mantello wrote, adding, that Jozefiak explained she hadn’t told the truth because, “She didn’t want to affect her status as a college student.”
Jozefiak pleaded innocent to the misdemeanor charge on September 20 and was ordered not to have any contact with either Hurd or Kyle Zenlia while her case is pending.
During his interview at the Woodstock Police Station on July 29, which was conducted with the help of his former foster father, Barnard Constable Wes Hennig, Hurd confessed to taking wallets, money, medications, iPods, and GPS units from over a dozen vehicles on “all the streets” in Woodstock as well as from some parked outside condos in Quechee and along the Stage Road in Barnard, according to a transcript prepared by Woodsock Officer Lisa Wilding. The same court paperwork stated that Hurd also confessed to entering the Sonia Salguero residence in Barnard accompanied by Matt Rosenberger and taking game consoles and a jewelry box.
The pair ended up bringing the items back and dropping them off by the residence at which point they were caught.
“We returned their stuff but they called the cops,” Hurd is quoted as saying in the transcript, to which Officer Wilding replied, “You know it’s still theft?”
“Yeah,” Hurd acknowledged.
“Was it worth it?” Wilding followed up.
“No,” Hurd replied.
“Why did you do it?” Wilding asked moments later.
“Money for drugs,” Hurd responded, indicating that he was purchasing painkillers with the proceeds, according to the transcript filed with the court.
Later in the interview, Hurd blamed addiction for his run-ins with the law and said he would like to get into a rehab program.
This article first appeared in the September 29th print edition of the Vermont Standard.