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Two Massachusetts men arraigned for murder - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Two Massachusetts men arraigned for murder

Frank Caraballo Frank Caraballo
Joshua Makhanda-Lopez Joshua Makhanda-Lopez
Melissa Barratt Melissa Barratt

Brattleboro, Vermont - August 1, 2011

Two Massachusetts men were arraigned Monday for the murder of a Bellows Falls woman.

Prosecutors say it's a crime that revolved around drugs.

According to court papers, the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force has been building a case against Frank Caraballo for quite some time. Now, in addition to 11 counts relating to the sale of crack cocaine in the Brattleboro area, Caraballo is also being charged with murder.

According to court papers Caraballo, 29, gunned down his victim, Melissa Barratt, 31, in cold blood. Police say the two had dated and that Barratt helped Caraballo deal drugs.

"She died from a gunshot wound," Prosecutor Tracy Shriver said. "That is our information at this time."

Barratt's body was found in the woods in Dummerston Friday. Police say Caraballo drove Barratt to the area with Joshua Lopez, 22.

"The two individuals who were arraigned today were searching for Ms. Barratt," Shriver said. "Located her here in Brattleboro and took her to Dummerston where she was ultimately found by police on Friday morning."

Police say that Caraballo believed Barratt stole drugs from him and that when he and Lopez found Barratt in Brattleboro they forced her to get into the car and to leave all of her personal belongings behind.

"It did involved circumstance of drug transactions between the individuals," Shriver said.

Lopez told police when the three got to Dummerston, Caraballo told him to pull over and wait.  Lopez said Caraballo led Barratt into the woods and returned to the car a short time later without her saying she was going to get her own ride home. Lopez told police that he later heard Caraballo on the phone saying "the problem had been taken care of."

"Mr. Lopez is charged with aiding Mr. Caraballo in the murder," Shriver said.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges and they are both being held without bail.

Police say both men were being investigated for the sale of cocaine in Southern Vermont. And Caraballo is the brother of Mike Caraballo, who was arrested earlier this year in connection with a drive-by shooting in Brattleboro.

The victim was also known to police. She was recently arrested on drug charges and earlier this year, she was charged with assault for allegedly beating someone in Bellows Falls with a baseball bat.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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