VERGENNES — Vergennes police cited two Northlands Job Corps students with aggravated assault after an attack that left a 17-year-old fellow student with a suspected broken neck on Feb. 7.
Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel also questioned the 20-hour delay before his department was notified on Wednesday evening by Northlands of the Tuesday evening assault.
Northlands center director Dennis Lamberd was in Washington, D.C., last week and could not be reached for comment before the Friday deadline for this edition of the Independent. The Independent will attempt to reach him again on Monday.
Cited for aggravated assault were Frederick Teal, 22, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Eleanor Wilcox, 17, of Providence, R.I., who Merkel described as Teal’s girlfriend. Merkel said Teal and Wilcox were arraigned in Addison District Court on Thursday.
Merkel said the male victim allegedly “flipped a cigarette” at Wilcox, who then allegedly pushed the victim to the ground and repeatedly kicked him in the back and upper neck area. Police allege that Teal then joined the assault. Merkel said that police were told that the victim suffered a broken nose as well as a “possible cervical fracture.”
The incident occurred at around 9 p.m. on Feb. 7, and Vergennes police were not called until about 5 p.m. the following day.
Merkel said late notification complicates investigations by making witnesses harder to find and potentially puts victims at further risk.
“Anytime we get notified about something as serious as this almost 24 hours later, it concerns me,” he said. “It definitely makes our job more difficult ... That’s a long time to pass by and all of a sudden try to figure out what’s going on.”
Merkel said he had no explanation for the delay by Northlands security personnel or officials in calling police.
“I can’t answer why they didn’t do it. They know they’re supposed to contact us,” he said.
And, Merkel said, this was not the first time Northlands personnel have failed to call Vergennes police in a timely manner during his tenure of a little longer than two years.
“It’s happened in the past, for whatever reason I can’t answer,” he said. “Let’s just say it’s happened ... a couple times in the past.”
Vergennes police and Northlands have a signed memorandum of understanding that calls for Job Corps to notify police when serious crimes occur on campus. Merkel said his department is not concerned with incidents such as “shoving matches” or “verbal disputes.”
Merkel said he has met with Northlands personnel to explain the protocol.
“We’re supposed to be notified, and we’ve had instructional classes explaining that issue,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].