Receiving Stolen Corn on the Cob

I’m not going to lie, this might be my favorite story in weeks.
A man at 12 Whipple Street heard a noise in his kitchen Monday morning about 3 a.m., and went to investigate. He saw a man standing in his kitchen. That man immediately fled from the home, and the homeowner called police.
Sgt. James Latham was among those who responded, and he spotted a man fitting the suspect’s description at Central and Union streets nearby. Police say the man had his pockets stuffed with something.
Latham investigated. What was in the man’s pockets?
Seven ears of corn on the cob.
How did he fit that much corn in his pockets? No one could tell me that tonight.
But, according to police reports, the homeowner from 12 Whipple would go on to identify the man, Lahai Kromah, 22, of 56 Middlesex St., unit 42, as the man who had been in his house.
Police would then learn that some ears of corn were missing from the homeowner’s fridge, according to police reports.
I’m not making this up.
And maybe I can understand why. I mean, I’ve noticed since the summer began, that at Hannaford in Dracut, where I usually shop, corn on the cob started the summer at 19 cents an ear. It went up to 29 cents, and last time I grabbed a few ears it was 39 cents an ear. That’s a 100 percent increase!
Maybe Mr. Kromah just couldn’t take it anymore?
There is more to the story, though. It turns out Kromah was charged with attempting to break into the same home on July 24, and has been arrested for or suspected in several other breaks at the home.
When Latham caught Kromah, it turns out he also had a pair of sneakers he had taken in an earlier break at 12 Whipple Street, and a key to the home, which was also taken in an earlier break, according to police reports.
No word on why he’s so fixated on that one home.
The corn was the only thing he was charged with taking on Monday morning, though. He was charged with breaking and entering night, larceny in a building, and receiving stolen property under $250.
If you think about it, the real charge there is receiving stolen corn on the cob.


Butterfly Collapse

Started my day today at the Butterfly Place in Westford, where a 3,100 square foot portion of the roof collapsed into the Atrium about 2 p.m.
The ceiling made some noise before it came down, so everyone got out of the atrium and no one got hurt, but let me tell you, it certainly could have killed anyone who was under it.
Owner George Leslie thinks it will cost $200,000 or $250,000 to rebuild, so the place may never reopen. He doesn’t think his insurance will cover that much cost, though he might accept donations to help.
At 4:30 p.m., he was still busy using a net to catch some butterflies before they escaped through the gaping hole in the roof, some as big as 4-inches across, and pretty incredibly colored.
He said he was going to keep at it until he couldn’t see a single butterfly left.
None of the exotic butterflies will cause harm if they escape, and they’d only live about two weeks, which is their natural lifespan, before dying, according to Leslie.
The problem is that they can’t reproduce around here because this area doesn’t have the plants that the tropical species need to lay their eggs.
Leslie said he’s going to give all the butterflies he can catch to some other local facilities.
It looked like a really neat place, and we’ll have plenty of pictures in the paper and on the web tomorrow, but I can’t upload them since I didn’t take them. A photographer went up before I even got there today.
I hope things work out for Mr. Leslie, I’d like to visit the place if it ever reopens.

Man Lost in River

Sorry I didn’t post earlier tonight, it’s been a hell of a time. Though, it’s definitely shown me that major incidents don’t always happen when all the city’s emergency responders are sitting around just waiting to rush to someone’s rescue.
Tuesday night first started to get busy when I rushed to the Stoklosa Middle School about 8:15 after police got a report of gunshots, and found a shell casing, but no victims or damaged buildings.
Police were searching for a dark-colored Honda, who’s driver had haircut that included a head that was shaved, except for a ponytail in back.
As I was telling an officer that I thought she too should consider getting just such a haircut, another call came over the scanner.
Possible drowning.
Everyone instantly stopped joking around.
Two guys from the city Dive Team, Sgt. Mike McCann and Officer James Matos, were at the shots fired scene on Broadway, and both were out of there before I could even fully figure out where they were heading.
The initial call was from a man in shorts who flagged down a state trooper on the Interstate 495 Bridge over the Concord River. A canoe had capsized, and one man was missing.
But there was a second call from a guy who wasn’t quite sure where he was, who said he was possibly near 1508 Gorham St.
There was also a brief report that a second man might still be in the water too.
Officers went to both locations, and as I went to the scene, without lights, at the speed limit, I absolutely assure you, officers checked both locations, and soon realized two men were on or near the 495 bridge.
I never did clear up what was up with that initial confusion, but McCann almost immediately headed for Billerica Street, where he knew there would be access to the water.
Sgt. David Peaslee went to 495, and soon radioed that there were in fact two men on the bridge who were saying that three of them had been on a kayak that capsized and sank about 50 yards downstream from the 495 bridge, right in the middle of the river.
There was no fourth man.
From what I heard on the radio, though, McCann and the folks trying to get in the water never slowed down regardless, another on-duty member of the dive team was told to get his gear and come to the scene, and fire department boats were en route.
By the time I went down Gorham Street to see what I could see, and then went to Billerica Street, the fire department and the dive team guys were already on the riverbank with an inflatable boat.
They had it in the water within a minute of me getting there.
Some of these police officers had been fully engaged with a shots fired incident when the call came in were already thick into this search.
I can’t imagine you can train for that, unless they randomly grab you and start you training in the middle of a high priority incident on a regular day of work. Must be something to shift gears in your head that quickly.
But back to the search.
Trinity ambulance checked out the two guys on the bridge who had made it to shore and they were fine. Two fire department rafts were in the river in no time, searching the banks and around the railroad trestle that runs near Billerica and Denton streets.
I didn’t want to be in the way, and since the MBTA trains had been stopped from crossing the trestle, I walked up there with a photographer I had called to the scene.
It was dark within a half hour, and I mean very dark.
You can see the first boat being slipped into the water in this video, and then the rest should give you an idea of how dark it was on the river, even with a state police helicopter circling overhead to light things up with a spotlight.
As my eyes adjusted I could see a little better than the video makes it appear, but not much, so the video should give you a good idea of what searchers were dealing with.

After about 10 minutes on the trestle, while standing about 20 feet away from me, Officer Ryan Dillon got on his radio and told the guys in the rafts that he saw a paddle. Dillon kept it illuminated with his flashlight until the raft caught up with it about 50 yards downstream from the trestle and pulled the paddle out of the water.
It would be the only thing that was found in the water last night, as far as I know.
It was a bright-colored paddle, but I was standing on the bridge not far from Dillon and I never saw it until he lit it up. I was definitely looking too.
It was so dark that even with flashlights on the boat, which was about 50 yards away, the video I got of the recovery of the paddle just shows a little spec of white light, so it’s not included in the video above.
Before too long, a Deputy Middlesex sheriff who lives in the area donated his boat to the case, and the dive team was in the water. I think there were two guys, and I’m sure one of them was Matos, who I mentioned earlier, because I saw him in his wet suit.
After while the T had to start running again, so they cleared us civilians off the trestle and trains resumed, but the search kept going, with a helicopter, two rafts, and the dive team boat.
The upper portion of Billerica Avenue was completely covered with fire trucks, dive team trucks, police cruisers and ambulances. Several dozen people who gathered to watch were kept back a few yards from the trucks.
The dive team went to the area where the boat sank to search around it. I’m still not sure I believe it was a kayak, as I don’t know of any kayaks that would hold three people, but then again, maybe that’s why it capsized.
Police were 100 percent focused on the search last night, and couldn’t tell me much of anything about what had happened, or who these three guys were.
Some detectives were assigned to get identifications and start figuring out what happened, but Deputy Ryan and 90 percent of the police and firefighters at the scene were totally focused on finding the missing guy.
Ryan said they’ll sort out what happened once they’ve done everything they can to save this guy.
I know the three guys are all in their 20’s, but that’s it.
I heard a rumor from a lady at the scene that one of the guys is from Centralville, but I’ve heard some wild, and wildly inaccurate rumors at scenes before, so I didn’t report that in the paper. I have no clue if it will turn out to be true.
The search continued like this until midnight. Nothing had been found.
I asked if the missing man was presumed drowned, but Deputy Ryan doesn’t give up that easily, and he wasn’t prepared to say that. He pointed out that he was still hoping the guy might have gotten out on his own, and just wandered off, disoriented.
The river was high and going pretty fast from the recent rain, so divers couldn’t safely stay in overnight, but they were scheduled to be back at work on Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Officers were going to be stationed at the scene overnight to keep watch.
The search continues today.
That’s all I’ve got. It as a little frustrated to have so little concrete information even though I got to the scene so fast and stayed right in the middle of things, but I realized it was just a matter of the police and firefighters being 100 percent focused on saving this guy.
I don’t ask many questions in those situations, and frankly, emergency crews have better things to do than track down answers for me at a time like that. I’m not sure I can really complain.

So far on Tuesday

A tree, apparently tired from the heat on this otherwise calm day, fell on Varnum Avenue, took down some power lines, and cut power to about 2,900 people about 2:30 p.m. Two-thirds were back on by 4:45 p.m., and all were expected to be back by now.
There is currently, at a few minutes before 6 p.m., a motorcycle accident at Whipple and Andover in Billerica, in which a man has very badly broken his leg, including an open fracture, according to police radio broadcasts. He’s conscious and alert and still at the scene.
I’ll check for more details on that later tonight, but at this time of day I’d never get through traffic and get to the scene in time for pictures.


An infant child and a 33-year-old woman were both taken to Lowell General Hospital late Monday night after the silver Nissan they were in got struck by an SUV that police say ran a stop sign on Moody Street at Aiken Avenue.
Here is the 33-year-old being taken to an ambulance, with the baby in a child seat in the background, on the trunk of the car.


Police said a 69-year-old Revere man was cited for failure to stop at a stop sign in connection with the crash. He was driving a white SUV with Dynamex Operations East, a company based in Woburn, written on the side in blue letters. From what the writing on the SUV said, Dynamex is a “blood pickup and delivery” company.
Doesn’t sound like the kind of blood delivery anyone had in mind.
Fortunately, though, police said both the woman and child had just minor injuries.

Dear Magazine Salesman

I hate to be rude and all, but after all my previous posts on the illegality of selling things door to door in Lowell without a permit, people just don’t seem to get it.
I think you might not be welcome here unless you have a permit.
Monday evening, police arrested Matthew McGinn, 25, of Atco, New Jersey for hawking/peddling without a license after police got a couple calls about people selling stuff door to door in the Highlands, near Chelmsford and Plain streets.
McGinn was arrested on Houghton Street about 6:45 p.m., and said he was selling magazines for Atlantic Circulation, which is yet another new magazine sales company in this saga.
Edit to add that I forgot a link to explain the start of all this here, which I’m sure would be useful for anyone who hasn’t been following.

Missing Elderly Woman

Happy Ending!
Maria Kontos was found about 10 or 15 minutes ago by Chelmsford Police, following a roughly 3-hour search. She was last seen about 4 p.m., and the search began about 7.
Lowell had at least 10 units searching for her, Chelmsford was searching, a Lowell officer with a bloodhound was on his way to the scene from vacation, and Billerica’s bloodhound joined the search as darkness fell and storm clouds moved through the area.
Kontos was found about 9:30 p.m., near the former drive-in on Route 110 in Chelmsford, roughly 5 miles away from her home on Wilder Street in Lowell. The 5 miles is what Google maps tells me the distance is, and that’s if she took the most direct route possible, which seems doubtful.
She was safe and sound, but she was going to be taken to Lowell General Hospital just to get checked out, and her family was on the way to the hospital to meet her when she arrived.
Kontos’ son told me the family is going to insist that Kontos get a GPS bracelet or something in case she gets lost again, because she loves to go walking.
He had called me once before after his mom went missing and was planning to donate $500 to Lowell, Dracut and Chelmsfords’ canine units because a bloodhound was involved in finding his mother. He seemed very very appreciative tonight.
Turns out there are a few happy endings in the crime blog. Who knew?