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Suspect in White Creek, N.Y., slayings pleads not guilty to murder, arson

July 14, 2011
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NEAL P. GOSWAMI and ZEKE WRIGHT
Staff Writers
WHITE CREEK, N.Y. — A paroled felon captured in New Hampshire Wednesday night was arraigned in White Creek Town Court Thursday evening on multiple murder and arson charges in the deaths of his mother, stepfather and stepbrother.

An undated booking photo of Matthew Slocum released by the Massachusetts State Police. (Courtesy photo)

Matthew A. Slocum, 23, of White Creek, entered not guilty pleas Thursday evening to three counts of second-degree murder as well as first- and second-degree arson charges in front of White Creek Town Justice Philip J. Sica.

Slocum was denied bail by Sica and remanded to the Washington County Jail until his next court appearance at 10 a.m. on July 19.

Three police officers surrounded him during the court proceeding. Slocum remained expressionless throughout the arraignment and did not speak. He exited through a rear door following the arraignment.

Slocum was the focus of a widespread manhunt Wednesday in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire after the 4 a.m. blaze at 118 Turnpike Road. He was located in Gilsum, N.H., Wednesday evening and surrendered himself to a New Hampshire State Police SWAT team after a standoff around 10 p.m.

Police found the bodies of Slocum’s mother, Lisa Slocum Harrington, her husband, Dan Harrington, and Dan Harrington’s adult son, Josh O’Brien in the burned home. All three were shot before the home, where Slocum and his girlfriend also lived, was set ablaze, Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright revealed during the arraignment.

Slocum had agreed earlier in the day to waive extradition back to New York following an appearance in Cheshire Superior Court in Keene, N.H., for a fugitive from justice charge.

Police on Wednesday issued an Amber Alert — a notification system created for cases of child abduction — because Slocum was believed to be on the run with his girlfriend, 25-year-old Loretta Colegrove, and their 4-month-old son, Raymond Slocum. All three lived at 118 Turnpike Road residence, officials confirmed.

The alert was active in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Slocum was reportedly seen on North Street in Adams, Mass., at around 5 a.m. Wednesday. Colegrove has relatives in that town.

Police were searching for Slocum’s black Ford Mustang, which was eventually discovered in Gilsum. Police later located Slocum inside the Gilsum residence of his uncle, Scott Slocum, and police descended on the town located north of Keene. New Hampshire State Police said they communicated with Slocum throughout the evening before he agreed to surrender.

The Keene Sentinel reported that a barefoot Colegrove exited the residence with the child around 9:45 p.m. Police could be heard talking to Slocum on a bullhorn about 15 minutes before, asking him to answer a phone, and telling him that no one wanted to hurt him, according to the Sentinel’s report.

Police have not said whether Colegrove and the child were being held against their will. They are now in Massachusetts with Colegrove’s mother, according to Washington County Sheriff Roger Leclaire.

Slocum arrived at the White Creek Town Court at 6:12 p.m. He was transported directly from New Hampshire and was shackled and wore a white and gray prisoner jumpsuit. A swastika tattoo was visible on his right forearm.

Slocum was represented by a public defender who arrived at the court just after 7 p.m.

Three or four family members, including Dan Harrington’s brother, who was frisked by police before entering the court, sat through the proceeding. About a dozen news reporters were also on hand.

The brother shouted “How’s it feel?” at Slocum.

About 40 people gathered outside the courthouse, and were cordoned off by deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.

Sharon Morrison, of Cambridge, who identified herself as a cousin of Dan Harrington, called Slocum “a coward” outside the courthouse following the arraignment. “He didn’t think about what he was doing,” she said.

When asked by reporters why she thought Slocum was a coward, she said, “Because he’s a sick individual, cowardly individual.”

A male who appeared to be in his 20s shouted at Slocum, calling him a “scumbag.” “You took my father and my brother,” he said. “(Expletive) burned my family.”

Investigators continued sifting through the charred remains of the home Thursday. Leclaire said the fire was “totally involved” when firefighters arrived early Wednesday morning.

Autopsies were being conducted on all three bodies, Leclaire told reporters during an afternoon press conference in Fort Edward. He said police were waiting for the results before officially identifying the victims. They have been identified by friends and family, however.

Leclaire would not discuss possible motives or provide additional details about the killings and fire.

Slocum was paroled in December 2009 after serving most of a four-year sentence following a 2005 conviction for grand larceny.

The State Police Major Crimes Unit is involved in the investigation along with the sheriff’s department and state Bureau of Fire.

Contact Neal P. Goswami at ngoswami@benningtonbanner.com and Zeke Wright at ewright@benningtonbanner.com

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