RUMFORD — A burglary suspect who police say leaped from a second-floor window Tuesday in Mexico and fled into the woods was one of three people charged in a Saturday night break-in at Sons of Italy Inc. on Route 108. The suspects took an estimated $500 worth of beer and hard liquor, police said.
Following a 1½-mile foot chase, Steven Roberts, 20, of Mexico, was captured by Rumford Officer Lawrence Winson and Cpl. Scott Mills in woods behind 120 Swett Ave. in Mexico, Rumford Capt. Daniel Garbarini said. Police say they later found 50 unopened cans of beer and 22 bottles of liquor at Roberts' apartment.
"He gave us a full confession," Detective Sgt. James Bernard said, arriving at the Rumford police station at 4:15 p.m., shortly after Mexico Sgt. Roy Hodsdon arrived with Roberts in custody.
Also arrested were Matthew McPherson, 18, and Tyler White, 19, both of Rumford. A fourth suspect, who is a juvenile, is expected to turn himself in on Monday when he returns to Maine, Garbarini said.
Roberts, McPherson and White were charged with felony burglary, theft and criminal mischief. Each posted $1,300 unsecured bail and will be arraigned on June 10 in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris.
Garbarini said that on Monday, Detective Sgt. James Bernard took a complaint that the Sons of Italy had been burglarized. The break-in wasn't noticed until Monday when a club worker entered to set up for the night's bingo games, a club member said Tuesday evening.
The burglars gained entry into the Italian social club by breaking out a double-pane window worth an estimated $250, Garbarini said.
Bernard said he got a tip on Tuesday that Roberts, a suspect in the case, was at his apartment at 19 Harlow Hill Road in Mexico. At about 2:40 p.m., Bernard went to the apartment to question Roberts, but Bernard said the young man jumped out a second-floor window behind the building and fled uphill through woods and snow.
Roberts was wearing only pajama bottoms and a pair of socks, Garbarini said. The temperature was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Bernard radioed for help, then gave chase.
Rumford police, along with Maine State Police and an Oxford County Sheriff's detective quickly cut off possible escape routes. Garbarini and Hodsdon took over foot pursuit at the top of the hill after a passer-by helped out.
"She said, 'Are you looking for a man who has no shirt or shoes on?' and I said, 'Yes, I am,' and she pointed the way he went, and gave me more information about the area and where he would likely run," Garbarini said.
At one point, they lost the track and thought Roberts climbed into a tree. However, after backtracking, they found where he left the snow and pushed hard to flush Roberts into a team of police who were waiting on Ledgeview Street, Garbarini said.
Residents in the area watched the action unfold, many with bewildered looks on their faces.
Police finally spotted Roberts at 3:34 p.m.
Chris Arsenault and his father, Jim Arsenault, and family of 120 Swett Ave., Mexico, saw the rest of the pursuit unfold.
"I was looking in the woods and I saw a couple of cops following a guy with no shirt on behind the house," Jim Arsenault said.
"He was still getting away and had a little lead on them, and then they got him," Chris Arsenault said. "It sounded like a herd of deer going through the woods."
Roberts was taken back to his apartment for questioning. There, police recovered more than 50 unopened cans of beer and 22 bottles of liquor — some of which were empty.