WHITE CREEK, N.Y. (AP) – An ex-convict wanted for questioning in a New York house fire that killed his mother and two others was taken into custody late Wednesday in New Hampshire and his girlfriend and their infant son, who had been missing, were found safe, authorities said.
Police had been searching for Matthew Slocum since the fire early Wednesday in White Creek, N.Y., along with his girlfriend and son, whom they said he may have been holding against their will. He was found in Gilsum, N.H., about 80 miles away, where his abandoned car had been discovered hours earlier, according to Massachusetts State Police. For a time, authorities believed the three might be headed for West Haven, Connecticut.
Slocum is the son of Lisa Harrington, who died in the fire along with her husband, Dan, and his son Josh in White Creek, which is 35 miles northeast of Albany. Amber alerts had been issued in New York and New England for Slocum’s girlfriend, 25-year-old Loretta Colegrove, and their infant son, Raymond.
He was taken into custody in a home in Gilsum and the alerts were canceled, said David Procopio, a Massachusetts State Police spokesman. A dispatcher with the New Hampshire State Police in nearby Keene could not immediately confirm the capture or provide any details, saying all officers were at the scene in Gilsum.
WCVB-TV in Boston reported that investigators tracked down Slocum in Gilsum and, after several hours of negotiations with police, he freed the woman and the infant he had been holding. A short time later, he surrendered.
It was unclear late Wednesday whether Slocum had been charged.
Local TV footage showed police escorting Slocum to a cruiser waiting in a poorly lit street. The woman was seen holding the infant as she walked, surrounded by armed police officers.
The alerts had been issued after Slocum left the burning home in a black 2003 Ford Mustang. He was reported near Adams, Mass., at about 5 a.m., and authorities said the empty vehicle was found late Wednesday afternoon in Gilsum.
Guns known to be in the home couldn’t be accounted for, and police told the Glens Falls Post-Star they were asking neighbors whether they heard shots before the fire.
Dan Harrington was a deputy highway superintendent. “They were good people. Dan was a real good employee,” White Creek town Supervisor Bob Shay told the Post-Star. “We all feel horrible. It’s just so sad.”
He said Harrington and his wife served on the town recreation committee.
Slocum went to prison in 2006 for breaking into a house and stealing cash, a New York prison spokesman said. He was released but returned to custody twice for violations before his parole expired in December 2009.
Police haven’t released any information about the cause of the fire.
On Wednesday afternoon, emergency crews remained on the scene of the charred remains of the house, set back from a remote country road on heavily wooded property.
Associated Press Writer Rodrique Ngowi in Boston contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)