After 19 years, mystery of Tony Imondi's disappearance may be solved

By Barbara Tetreault
ERROL — A 19-year-old mystery may have been solved Tuesday when authorities pulled a pickup truck out of the Androscoggin River containing what are believed to be the remains of Tony Imondi.
The truck was discovered in the river a few miles south of Errol Village. Skeletal remains found in the cab of the truck will be examined by the N.H. medical examiner’s office for positive identification.
The 26-year-old Imondi had played in his regular Monday night horseshoe league on July 20, 1998 at Bill’s Seafood in Errol where he worked as a cook. According to a Berlin Sun article reporting his disappearance, he had left at approximately 11:30 p.m. in his girlfriend’s pickup truck and was never seen again.
His girlfriend had loaned him her truck to use for a few days while she was away for a family reunion. Imondi did not show up the next day to pick up his girlfriend, nor did he show up to work Wednesday morning as scheduled. His own car was left at the home of Bill and Diane Keefe, the owners of Bill’s Seafood, and inside were his fishing tackle and golf clubs. His clothes were at his mother’s house in Milan, where he sometimes stayed.
"He has exactly what he had on his back," Diane Keefe told the Sun at the time.
Keefe called Imondi an excellent worker and said it was unlike him not to show up for work. She described him as an outgoing, fun-loving young man.
"A lot of people liked Tony. He's just a likable kid," she said in the interview.
When he did not show up after several days, his family reported him missing. In the weeks immediately after he was reported missing, state police searched the back roads. It was unknown at the time if he had traveled south on Route 16 or west on Route 26. Interviews with friends and family did not reveal any clues of his whereabouts
His disappearance has baffled law enforcement officials and family members ever since. Over the years, there have been searches by air and ground in the Errol area. The N.H. Fish and Game dive team has searched areas along the Androscoggin River and Lake Gloriette in Dixville. The truck was entered as a stolen vehicle with the National Crime Information Computer.
Despite the lack of success, State Police Troop F continued efforts to find Imondi. Over the past month Troop F detectives and the Fish and Game dive team focused on the river section south of Errol. Fish and Game utilized divers in some areas and a side scan sonar in other areas. The side scan sonar was able to detect an image on the bottom of the river that analysis showed was consistent with a truck similar to the Ford Ranger. Further inspection of the area revealed that the image was in fact the missing Ford Ranger.
The State Police Major Crimes Unit assisted with examining the truck and skeletal remains. Imondi’s family members have been notified of the discovery.

Trial underway in negligent homicide case

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Two different versions of the events that led to the death of Kristin Black in August 2016 were presented in opening arguments Tuesday in the trial of Randy R. Baillargeon in Coos County Superior Court.
Baillargeon, 34, of 97 Elm St., Berlin is charged with negligent homicide, reckless conduct and conduct after an accident — class B felonies each carrying a maximum sentence of seven years.
Coos County Attorney John McCormick described a wild truck ride on the morning of Aug. 10 with Baillargeon driving his big jacked-up truck from Hinchey Street on to Fourth Avenue to Madison Avenue and then to Sixth Street while Black clung to the side mirror on the driver’s side as she rode on the running board. McCormick said witnesses would testify hearing Black yelling and Baillargeon driving fast and erratically as he drove through the residential neighborhood.
He said police received the first call shortly after 6:30 a.m., reporting a woman yelling as she clung to a truck as it drove through the avenues.
As the truck traveled on Sixth Avenue, McCormick said it was well over into the opposite lane, hitting the edge of the driveway at 779 Sixth Avenue as it cut back into the road. At that point, he said Black fell off the truck. She suffered a severe head injury, and when Berlin Police Sgt. Geoff Bardeen arrived at the scene, Black was dead in the middle of the road, not far from her house at 811 Sixth Avenue.
After Black fell, McCormick said Baillargeon continuing driving “not so much as stopping” to see if Black was injured. Instead, he said Baillargeon spent the rest of the morning doing errands until police located him at the Millyard Lounge at noon.
McCormick described how police secured the scene, and the detective unit was called to oversee the investigation. The state police collision analysis and reconstruction unit was called to assist.
McCormick said when Berlin police interviewed Baillargeon that afternoon, he admitted driving with Black on the outside holding on to his truck’s mirror.
The county attorney argued Baillargeon’s conduct was reckless and negligent in driving with Black on the outside running board. He said there were other options the defendant could have chosen, noting his passenger, Jason Rainault, had a cell phone and could have called police. He said the state is not required to show that Baillargeon acted intentionally, only that he acted recklessly and negligent.
McCormick suggested Baillargeon just wanted to get away from Black when he left with Rainault. She was yelling she was going to call police, and McCormick quoted Baillargeon as saying it was time to "get on it."
But Defense Attorney Leonard Harden painted a different picture of his client's action. After working on his father’s camp in Errol, he said Baillargeon had picked up Rainault on the evening of Aug. 9. Harden said Rainault had undergone some tough times and Baillargeon was trying to help him. The two met Black and Nichole Elsea, and the four spent the night together. But over the course of the evening, Harden said Baillargeon came to the conclusion that Black was psychotic and developing a crush on him. That morning, Elsea needed to go to work and Baillargeon agreed to drive her and Rainault. But Elsea eventually left while waiting for Baillargeon. As the two men took off, Black came running after the truck and pulled herself into the back.
Harden described Black as banging on the truck and eventually sliding down onto the running board, holding on to the mirror.
“What do you do when there is a psychotic woman on your truck banging on the window,” Harden asked.
He said the defense would present an expert witness who will testify Baillargeon was traveling between 20 and 23 miles per hour during the incident.
Furthermore, Harden said he believes the physical evidence will show Black jumped off the truck, noting that most of her injuries were on the front of her body.
The defense attorney said Baillargeon did not know Black was seriously injured and pointed out he made no effort to leave the city or hide after the incident. Rather, he said he went to the Millyard Lounge to have lunch with his grandfather.
Harden said Baillargeon voluntarily agreed to talk to Berlin police and urged the jury to listen to the tape of that interview when it is played. He said it was not until 41 minutes into the interview that Baillargeon learned Black is dead.
After opening arguments, McCormick called Berlin police officer Bardeen, patrol officer Philip Pelletier, Lt. Kerry Theriault, and Det. Sgt. Wade Goulet.
Also testifying was Shirley Harriman, who said Baillargeon and Rainault had stopped by her house around 2 a.m. that day to pick up some buckets. She described Rainault as a friend and said he used to live at her house. Harriman said Rainault was hyperactive and sweating, leading her to believe he was impaired. She admitted telling police Rainault was a “mess." She said she did not know Baillargeon and described him that morning as quiet and reserved.
The trial is expected to last most of the week.

Businesses and ATVers rev up for second Camp RZR at Jericho

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN – Camp RZR returns to Jericho Mountain State Park this Friday and Saturday, and thousands of riders are expected to motor to the Androscoggin Valley to enjoy the events, demo rides, music and giveaways sponsored by Polaris. With hundreds of miles of riding trails and beautiful fall weather predicted, the region is bracing for a fun-filled weekend.
This is the second Camp RZR at Jericho, and the buzz generated by last year’s event is expected to draw even more riders to the Berlin and Gorham area. Last year, 7,100 people registered with riders coming from 26 states and Canada to enjoy the weekend.
Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paula Kinney said her organization feels more prepared for the event, having gone through it last year. She said working with Polaris/Six Speed has been a great learning experience for the chamber.
“The chamber is excited to have Polaris Camp RZR coming back to our area. Not only will some business owners see an increase in business from the attendees of the event but also from the Polaris Team that is here several days in advance,” said Katie Tuggle, of Six-Speed.
This year the musical entertainment will be the Grammy-winning group, The Band Perry. Made up of three siblings, the group is known for its hit singles like “Gentle on My Mind” and “Stay in the Dark." The group is reported to be venturing into pop music in its soon-to-be-released new album. On its Facebook page, the band said it can’t wait to perform Saturday night at Camp RZR.
Polaris created Camp RZR as a way to thank the side-by-side community for its support of the company’s RZR line by offering free demo rides, kids events, prize giveaways and top musical entertainment. Last year, Polaris gave away over $200,000 in gear, including three Polaris ATVs.

At the same time, the event is a great boost to the Androscoggin Valley, drawing thousands of off-highway enthusiasts to the region. Reservations for lodging are filled months in advance, and many eateries expand their hours to accommodate the ATVers.
Camp RZR is planned as a family event, with a special section set up for kid games, a bounce house and kid rides. Multiple food vendors are available at the park both days, serving a variety of food. The price for a ticket to the entire two-day event is $10 for an adult and $5 for kids under 17.
Camp RZR Village opens at 10 a.m. Friday and runs until 7 p.m. with tours, the mud grudge pit runs, an obstacle course, kids' games and drawings.
From 6 to 7:30 p.m., riders are invited to do a sunset ride, meeting at RZR Ridge at the windmills for a bonfire, s’mores, and sunset views of the park and surrounding area.
Camp RZR opens a little earlier on Saturday, with the activities getting underway at 9 a.m. The Band Perry will be performing at 7 p.m., with fireworks scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Camp RZE closes at 9 p.m. — sufficient time to allow all the ATVs to get off the mountain and return to their lodging. Local trails and roads close to ATV traffic at 10 p.m.
Attendance at Camp RZR is not limited to ATVers. Designated parking lots are set up around the valley for parking vehicles with free shuttle service to Jericho Park. Shuttles will run a continuous loop throughout the festival. ATV and OHRV riders are allowed to park in designated areas.
The city of Berlin has set up an RV dump station at the Berlin Public Works garage on Jericho Road. Non-residents will be charged a $20 dumping fee.
Tickets to Camp RZR can be purchased online at www.camprzr.com. They can also be purchased at Absolute PowerSports at 461 Main St., Gorham, or at Berlin Public Works at 10 Jericho Road, Berlin. Tickets are also available at Gate A and Gate B at Camp RZR.

 

Berlin schools utilizing Facebook to share information with students and families

By Kirstan Knowlton
BERLIN — In an effort to effectively share information with students and their families, each of the four Berlin schools have created Facebook pages. The pages will be used to share information only, and comments will not be allowed on the posts.
Looking for ways to strengthen communication with students and their families, the school’s Facebook page will serve as a place to share events, notices and positive things that the students and staff are doing.
Each of the four schools will have their own page, with the principals from those schools running the page.
The official Facebook pages will include a photo of the school’s logo as its profile, and the banner will be of each school.
“It’s another way to inform students and parents of what’s going on,” said Autie Hamilton, district technology coordinator for the Berlin Public Schools.
Now that the schools will have official Facebook pages, school board chair Nicole Ploure asked if they could remove alternative pages that are not officially run by the school.
“I will try to get those resolved,” said Hamilton.
Links to the Facebook pages for each school can be found on their websites once they have been published.
“The rationale is to get more information our there. Informing the public and parents of what’s going on,” said Plourde.
The schools will be sending a letter a letter home to parents about the page.
People will not be allowed to comment on photos and links that are posted to the page and should contact the school directly with any questions about information that has been posted.