On January 19 Trooper Jonah Vaclavicek, assigned to State Police-Northampton Barracks, responded to the Veteran’s Home at Holyoke to investigate the theft a wedding band belonging to a recently deceased disabled veteran. Upon Trooper Vaclavicek’s arrival, security staff advised him that during the process of moving the veteran’s remains to a funeral home, the veteran’s gold wedding band had been taken.
After taking the initial report, Trooper Vaclavicek began an in-depth investigation conducting numerous interviews with staff at the Veteran’s Home, family members of the veteran, and staff at both the morgue and funeral home. Trooper Vaclavicek learned the exact process of end-of-life and postmortem care in order to be certain all potential avenues of the theft could be investigated. Through interviews, Trooper Vaclavicek was able to narrow down the timeframe between the ring last being seen on the veteran’s hand and the ring going missing.
Eventually, the investigation led Trooper Vaclavicek to a Certified Nursing Assistant who had contact with the veteran for the last three years, including the days after his passing, identified as ANTONIO BELL, 53, of Springfield. Trooper Vaclavicek was able to locate records at an area pawn shop showing BELL had recently sold a gold wedding band, later discovered to be the wedding band belonging to the deceased veteran. After a lengthy interview with BELL, and a thorough investigation at the pawn shop, it was discovered that BELL indeed stole the ring from the deceased veteran then pawned it for $85.
Trooper Vaclavicek’s investigation led him to determine that wedding band had a monetary value of up to $2,000, and, more importantly, an emotional and sentimental value beyond numerical qualification.
At the conclusion of BELL’s interview, Trooper Vaclavicek placed him under arrest and transported him to the Northampton Barracks for booking. Thankfully, in addition to criminal charges, Trooper Vaclavicek was able to recover the wedding band and return it to the family of the veteran. Upon the completion of BELL’s booking, a bail commissioner placed a bail amount of $1,000 prior to him being transported to the Hampshire County House of Corrections. BELL was scheduled for arraignment at Holyoke District Court on the following charges:
1. Larceny from a Person over 65;
2. Larceny from a Building; and
3. Receiving Stolen Property.