, Salem, MA


January 16, 2014

Barricaded couple have lengthy criminal record

HAMPTON FALLS, N.H. — A local couple who fled Amesbury police Tuesday morning and barricaded themselves inside their Route 1 home for eight hours, causing a major traffic jam, are well known to area police. One of them had been arrested previously for impersonating a police officer in order to steal drugs from medical centers.

Darren Gragg, 36, of 24 Lafayette Road, No. 7, in Hampton Falls, and Melissa Amato, age 32, same address, are being held on $110,000 cash bail and are due back in court Jan. 29 for probable cause hearings. They were arraigned on burglary charges yesterday at Hampton Circuit Court in Seabrook. Conditions of their release include staying at least 300 feet away from each other, remaining in New Hampshire, refraining from drugs or excessive use of alcohol and not possessing firearms. They were also charged with resisting arrest.

Amesbury police, assisted by Hampton Falls police and a New Hampshire State Police SWAT team, surrounded the house, close to Hampton Falls Inn near the Seabrook border, around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. As a precaution, police blocked off Route 1 from Route 84 to the Seabrook town line, snarling traffic for miles.

According to Amesbury police, the suspects were first spotted early Tuesday at the Irving Gas Station on Rocky Hill Road near Route 110 asleep at one of the pumps. When police responded to the scene, they determined that items inside the car looked suspicious and could be connected to a series of area house breaks.

Gragg and Amato fled the scene and ditched their car nearby, police said. It appears they visited the home of someone who had hired at least one of them to do work on the house. One of the suspects was able to convince the unsuspecting homeowner to give them a ride back to New Hampshire under the pretense that they were too tired to drive.

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