New details about Westfield murder suspect's past - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New details about Westfield murder suspect's past

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Peter Lavalette Peter Lavalette

Police say a traffic stop in Indiana led investigators to a murder scene in Vermont.

Police say Peter Lavalette, 49, of Derby, was pulled over Tuesday morning in Indiana for a traffic violation and told police a sinister story.

"He was processed for a DUI and basically admitted to the homicide in Vermont during the processing," Vt. State Police Lt. Bob Cushing explained.

Police used Lavalette's confession to track his alleged victim to a Westfield home off Fuller Road. There, investigators discovered the man's body inside a white storage trailer in the yard. Police say he was shot to death. They're not releasing his name, but say he owned the property.

Neighbors were shaken by the violence.

"I was shocked. I mean when he came in the house and told me I said, 'oh.' I was scared. I am still scared," said neighbor Elaine Selmer.

Police believe the victim was murdered within the last four days. They have not released a motive, but say Lavalette-- who's lived in Vermont most of his life-- was helping the victim repair his home.

"It appears at this point from what we know he has done odd jobs for different people and that's what he was doing at this particular location. Working for the victim in this case," Cushing said.

Neighbors say the victim was in his 50s and kept mostly to himself. They say he spent summers fixing up a home on the property and lived in New York City the rest of the year.

"He seemed to be an ambitious sort, working on his house and running a small business," neighbor John Selmer explained.

Police aren't sure why Lavalette fled to Indiana, but say he has a lengthy criminal record in Vermont.

"I know he has had some brushes with the law. He has been in and out of jail," Cushing said. 

Police say some of Lavalette's past convictions include a child sex assault and drunk driving. Prosecutors plan to charge him with second-degree murder.

Lavalette is being held for lack of $1 million bail. Authorities say charges could be upped to first-degree murder in the coming days. Lavalette is awaiting extradition to Vermont. The victim's autopsy is planned for Wednesday.

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