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2 suspects arraigned in O'Hagan murder - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

2 suspects arraigned in O'Hagan murder

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ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. -

Pat O'Hagan's children were not sure this day would ever come. "Three and a half years ago today we lost our beloved mother," said Pat's son, Shawn O'Hagan.

The last time anyone saw the 78-year-old Sheffield grandmother alive it was September 10, 2010.  On Monday two of her accused killers walked shackled into a St. Johnsbury courtroom.

Thirty-three year-old Keith Baird and his half brother, 27 year-old Richard Fletcher, denied first degree murder, kidnapping and burglary charges. The judge barred them from having contact with anyone connected to the case, and set bail at a half-million dollars each. But both are already in prison serving time for other crimes.

"We do understand there are still many obstacles to clear in the following months but we are confident that when a jury of our mother's peers hears the evidence, justice will be served," Shawn O'Hagan said.

Police say Baird, Fletcher and their cousin, 23-year-old Michael Norrie, killed O'Hagan during a botched robbery attempt at her home. The trio was allegedly high on crystal meth. Less than two weeks after investigators discovered her body in Wheelock, they connected the three men to her killing. Each suspect made partial confessions, but their stories kept changing, each pointing the finger at the other. Motives in the murder ranged from robbing O'Hagan for cash and pills to killing her because she discovered their alleged meth lab in an abandoned house next to hers.

"I did not expect to feel creeped out when those guys were brought into the courtroom. I could just feel something different," said Dolores Chamberlain, a friend of Pat O'Hagan.

Fletcher told other inmates they intentionally made up multiple stories to mislead police. He also said O'Hagan was sexually assaulted, but troopers could never prove the rape.
Investigators say that despite the evolving narrative, the suspects each knew of details only the killers could -- like O'Hagan was shot in the back of the head, found nude from the waist down and partially decomposed; there was a bullet hole in her kitchen ceiling and an electrical cord was found alongside her body.
 
In the end police concluded the men broke in and forced O'Hagan into the kitchen at gunpoint.  Fletcher fired a warning shot into the ceiling and Norrie pulled the trigger that killed her. They then allegedly cleaned up the evidence and disposed of her body. Detectives recovered a .22 -- thought to be Norrie's -- from a nearby river, but they could not forensically compare it to the bullet found in O'Hagan because it was fragmented.  Fletcher and Baird's pickups -- allegedly used to move her body -- were junked shortly after the murder.

"The idea of closure, I don't, we don't really know what it is. So you just kind of keep moving on through the process," said Pat's son, Mark O'Hagan.

A process they hope is the beginning of restoring peace and comfort to the Northeast Kingdom. "I'm stunned by it. The goodness up there is unbelievable," Shawn O'Hagan said.

"And it's genuine and it's heartfelt," Mark O'Hagan added.

"It's still so sad. You drive through town and you look at Pat's house and you just want to cry every time. There's always going to be a sadness there. I don't think that will ever go away," Chamberlain said.

Vermont authorities are in the process of extraditing Norrie to Vermont where he will face murder, kidnapping and burglary charges just like his cousins.
He's currently serving time in a federal prison in Pennsylvania for an unrelated gun charge.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell said Monday that his office has spent hundreds of hours on the case, treated it with seriousness and hopes justice is served. In the past he's said if he brings a case he wants to win it, and he doesn't feel there's enough to go on. But five months ago prosecutors from Caledonia and Bennington counties teamed up to review the case and concluded there was enough evidence to bring charges. Monday O'Hagan's children told reporters they've never met Sorrell nor has the AG ever reached out to them.  Sorrell responded by saying his criminal division chief met with the family.

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