Farmington police recover stolen rifle, shotgun


FARMINGTON — A rifle taken from a New Vineyard Road home last week was returned to police by an unknowing buyer Friday night.

Police sought the public’s help Friday to recover the Winchester .30-30 lever-action rifle believed to have been sold by Harley Witherell, 29, of Farmington.

After reading media reports, the buyer called police and brought the gun in, said Sgt. Edward Hastings of the Farmington Police Department.

The buyer told police he purchased the rifle from Witherell.

Another person who purchased a shotgun, not realizing it was stolen, returned that gun after learning police were investigating the theft of two firearms from the home. He also told police he had purchased the shotgun from Witherell.

Police got a warrant and searched Witherell’s home Thursday night and arrested him on a felony charge of theft of firearms and violating condition of release.

The gun owner reported the theft Jan. 1 and told police he suspected his neighbor, Witherell, who was house-sitting for him and had access to the home.

Witherell was bailed from Franklin County Detention Center Monday on $500 cash and a Maine pretrial contract.

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