Kent Stafford, 21, of Peace Street, pleaded not guilty Monday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to a felony count of unlawful mischief. His mother, Lisa Helmholz-Adams, 51, also of Peace Street, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of obstructing justice and a misdemeanor charge of giving false information to police. Each was released on conditions they appear in court at a later date.
According to Trooper James Wright, of the Vermont State Police, on July 2 he investigated a report of vandalism at the Long Trail School on Kirby Hollow Road in Dorset. According to Wright, a vehicle had driven over the softball and soccer fields as well, as the tennis courts, damaging three poles there. Shrubs had been ripped up and scattered, and the vehicle had done a number of "doughnuts," on the fields. The school estimated the damage at $27,000.
Wright said he found a headlight fixture on the tennis court and took it as evidence.
The school's wooden sign had also been taken down and was found on Upper Hollow Road. Wright said he went there and found what looked like the scene of a crash, so he checked with police records and learned a crash had been reported there on June 2 at 1:20 a.m.
Wright said he also spoke to the Hand Motors mechanics who said the headlight Wright found was not from a Subaru, but either a GMC Sonoma or a Chevrolet Colorado. The Subaru driver told Wright that Stafford drove a Chevrolet Colorado and they had left from the same party that evening.
Write wrote that he went to Stafford's house and met with Helmholz-Adams, who said she had not seen her son, Stafford, and was vague on where she thought he might be. She said he had been acting strange because of an argument he had with his father.
According to Wright, he could not find Stafford that day, but the following morning Stafford called him and agreed to meet at the Shaftsbury barracks along with his mother. Wright wrote that Stafford told him he had been in an argument with his friend's father, had recently seen his own father after not having done so for several years and had recently broken up with his girlfriend. He said he was leaving a party and was upset, then remembered when he was a freshmen at Burr and Burton Academy, when some of the seniors at that school would drive their vehicle on the fields at the Long Trail School.
He told Wright he meant to blow off steam, but lost control, spinning up the fields and tennis court. According to the affidavit, he said he got out of the vehicle and took the sign down by hand, tossing it into the back of his truck before going home.
He said his mother saw the sign in the truck that morning and took it to the Upper Hollow Road where she dropped it. He said she then told him to take his truck and hide it someplace, so he took it to a friend's and parked it off in the woods.
According to Wright, Helmholz-Adams told him she didn't mention seeing the sign because she wanted to speak to Stafford about what he had done. Wright said he told her that she had made some poor decisions.