, Salem, MA


February 12, 2014

Police: Break-in suspect appeared dead

NORTH ANDOVER — When police officers first encountered Justin Roeger in the ceiling at the Richdale Dairy Store early Monday morning, they thought he was dead.

Initially, he did not respond to any stimuli, according to a report filed with Lawrence District Court by officer William Brush. When Brush shined his flashlight on the break-in suspect, however, his eyes fluttered, the officer wrote.

Roeger, 26, of 57 Chickering Road, which is adjacent to the store, was arrested and charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime, two counts of malicious damage to property valued at more than $250 and larceny of a large quantity of lottery tickets.

Lawrence District Court Judge Kevin Gaffney ordered Roeger held in lieu of $5,000 cash bail and scheduled a pretrial conference for March 4. The judge also ordered Roeger to abstain from alcohol.

Because Roeger was close to many electrical wires and was unresponsive, officers, firefighters and paramedics from Lawrence General Hospital feared he night have been electrocuted, according to Lt. Charles Gray, spokesman for the North Andover Police Department. They called National Grid, which shut off the power to the 75 Chickering Road business, then brought Roeger down from the ceiling.

The paramedics found that Roeger had a pulse, but he was unconscious, according to Brush’s report. The Fire Department took him to Lawrence General Hospital, where he regained consciousness and recovered enough so that he could be taken to the court for his arraignment later that day, police said.

Roeger entered the store by breaking the glass of the front door with an outdoor ash tray, according to Brush’s report. The breaking glass triggered an alarm at 12:41 a.m. Brush, along with officers Michael Reardon and Jason Wedge, went to the scene. Officers recovered a backpack stuffed with lottery tickets believed to have been stolen from the Richdale, Brush wrote.

Roeger climbed up into the ceiling by pulling down several tiles, police said. He was intoxicated at the time of his arrest, according to Brush’s report.

Judge Gaffney based his decision to set a high cash bail for Roeger on his record of failure to appear in court for previous cases and his record of criminal convictions, according to a document on file at the court.

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