Fryeburg police arrest suspect in N.H. slayings


FRYEBURG – A Windham man arrested in the shooting deaths of three people in New Hampshire is also wanted on several other charges in states spanning the East Coast, police said Tuesday.

After six hours of questioning at the Fryeburg Police Department, Michael L. Woodbury, 31, was taken to the Oxford County Jail where he was charged with three counts of murder. He was also being held on charges of being a fugitive from justice and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Police said Woodbury, who served prison time in Maine and Florida for robberies, was named in warrants stemming from a slew of alleged crimes.

At the time of his arrest, Woodbury had been free from a Maine prison for less than two months. He was released May 4, according to court records. Police believe his crime spree began in June and culminated with the deaths of three people in Conway, N.H.

Woodbury is wanted in connection with a bank robbery in South Carolina, a vehicle theft and burglary in Kentucky, a store robbery in Tennessee, a burglary in Maine, and arson, burglary and forgery in Georgia.

Police were continuing to investigate Woodbury’s role in the shooting in Conway that left three people dead from gunshot wounds Monday. He was the only suspect named on Tuesday. After his capture, police in New Hampshire confirmed that the manhunt for a suspect was over.

The three victims were gunned down at an Army-Navy surplus store called Army Barracks on busy Route 16 in Conway, N.H., about eight miles from Fryeburg. It was believed the three men were shot during a robbery at the store.

Autopsy results released Tuesday revealed that two of the victims had been shot multiple times in the head and chest. The third had been shot once in the head.

Shortly after the shooting, residents and visitors in Conway were told to stay inside and several miles of Route 16 were closed. Witnesses described the suspect as in his mid-20s, 5-foot-10 and wearing camouflage shorts and a baseball cap. Until Tuesday, police had no idea who he was.

Shortly before noon, Fryeburg police spotted a man fitting that description walking along the railroad tracks, investigators said. They arrested him on warrants and took him to the police department.

“I couldn’t be happier that they have someone in custody, I hope it’s the right person, and I hope they can make the charges stick because I want to see somebody pay for this,” Ken Jones, brother of one of the victims, told The Associated Press. “I just would like to know why? Why he killed my brother? There’s no reason, it’s just a tragedy.”

A booking sheet described Woodbury as cooperative when he was arrested. It also described him as unemployed and married, though no emergency contact number was included in the report.

Police from Fryeburg and New Hampshire interviewed Woodbury throughout the day before taking him to the county jail in Paris, Town Clerk Theresa Shaw said.

Woodbury lists an address of 35 Sabattus Lane in Windham, although it’s believed he was recently living in Naples. Woodbury’s adopted father lives at the Windham home. The telephone was not answered there Tuesday night.

Because of the Fourth of July holiday today, Woodbury will not make his initial court appearance until Thursday.

During a 4 p.m. news conference, with Woodbury in custody, New Hampshire police indicated they no longer believed a murder suspect was on the loose.

“There is reason to believe that the public safety risk that was referred to in earlier press releases has dissipated,” New Hampshire’s Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said in a statement issued at the news conference.

According to previous news reports, Woodbury left Maine June 4 with his 18-year-old girlfriend and her younger sister.

Police say Woodbury robbed a bank in Florence, S.C., two days after he left Maine. They say he broke into a house and stole a car in Franklin, Ky., on June 18 and eluded police a day later after a chase in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Police in those states have been notified about Woodbury’s capture. He will likely be held at the Oxford County Jail until he can be extradited to New Hampshire, authorities said.

Woodbury’s criminal record includes robberies and thefts beginning when he was 18 years old.

Meanwhile, police in New Hampshire on Tuesday night were continuing to investigate the killings in Conway.

The shooting victims were identified late Monday as James Walker, 34, of Denmark, manager of the Army Barracks store; and customers William Jones, 25, of Walpole, Mass., and Gary Jones, 23, of Plymouth, Mass.

The Joneses were not related, investigators said.

Ken Jones, the brother of William Jones, told the Boston Herald that William and Gary Jones were friends returning from a camping trip in Maine when they were shot, The Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon.

“They were in (the store) just shopping. It was that random,” Ken Jones told the newspaper.

Walker, left a wife and two young children. He and William Jones were found dead at the scene. Gary Jones died Monday night at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

New Hampshire’s Senior Assistant Attorney General Ann Rice said she could not comment on what authorities believe happened Monday, but a message posted on the surplus store’s Web site Tuesday said Walker died “in what appears to be a robbery.”

Rice said two victims were found inside the store and the third “basically on the threshold.”

She said she could not comment on whether the third person was on his way in or was trying to run away when he was shot.

The store is along a stretch of Route 16 where outlet stores draw hordes of shoppers, partly because New Hampshire has no sales tax. The biggest concentration of stores is five miles north of the shooting scene in North Conway.

Several miles of the highway were closed for hours Monday and hundreds of people either couldn’t get where they were going or couldn’t leave their homes or stores and restaurants because of the intensive search.

SWAT teams, police dogs and helicopters helped search for the gunman. He was believed to have a small-caliber handgun.

Army Barracks, a small chain, is based in Salem, Mass. Vice President Marilyn Brabantes called Walker “a great guy” and said his wife, Tessa, manages an Army Barracks store in Scarborough. The store sells camping equipment and gear such as knives, stun guns and paintball guns, but no firearms, Brabantes said.