Habitual, violent criminal Harley Breer is on the run

Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 8:30 PM EDT
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MARSHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - A habitual criminal is on the run after allegedly assaulting a neighbor near Folsom Hill Road in Marshfield on Friday.

Vermont State Police say Harley Breer, 51, has a lengthy and violent criminal history, including convictions for kidnapping and aggravated domestic assault. Rory Thibault, the state’s attorney for Washington County, says Breer’s criminal history is “one of the most complex” in Vermont, dating back 30 years.

In 1999, Breer was charged with kidnapping and rape, but four years later, the jury only convicted him on the kidnapping charge and acquitted him of sexual assault.

In 2011, Breer faced life in prison after he allegedly beat up and threatened his then-girlfriend. He was freed for lack of evidence.

Seven years later, Breer was back in court, accused of kidnapping and assaulting his girlfriend. Prosecutors were seeking repeat offender status for Breer, but they ultimately struck a plea deal last year, putting him on probation under the condition he’d be supervised for life.

Thibault says he stands by the state’s decision despite the fact that police believe Breer removed his ankle monitor after Friday’s incident and left the area, which is a violation of the terms.

“We made the decision at the time based on the information before us. And as you mentioned, at his sentencing hearing, Mr. Breer commented that he was a changed man and had moved on. People can choose to believe or not believe that. History would suggest that may not have been accurate and the situation that we’re facing now would draw that into question too,” Thibault said. “But in the court, we are bound by what we can prove, not by what we believe or what we think ought to happen. And we have to rely upon witnesses who are credible, evidence that’s admissible.”

Thibault also says Breer is serving multiple sentences.

“Currently, he’s serving a sentence which includes a life maximum, meaning that when he is apprehended, it will be at the Department of Correction’s discretion as to how long he serves up to life. That was with the habitual offender enhancement based on his convictions entered last year in 2020,” said Thibault.

On Friday, Breer is accused of assaulting “a household member,” according to Vermont State Police Capt. Matt Daley. Breer was on furlough and under the supervision of the Vermont Department of Corrections at the time. Police believe Breer took off his ankle monitor and left town.

Vermont State Police were seen patrolling Marshfield on Saturday as the manhunt for Breer continued into the second day.

Police say Breer was last seen around 6 p.m. on Friday near his house on Folsom Hill Road. Police also received a report that he was a passenger in a vehicle on U.S. 2 in Marshfield village that was traveling toward Barre around 7:15 p.m.

People living in Marshfield say they’re on high alert after hearing of Breer’s escape.

“We have to think about whether we’re going to be willing to let our children play in our yard, or even our side yard, without direct supervision— now it’s potentially a problem again,” said Jennifer Miner.

“It’s very scary. I don’t believe that he should have been let on house arrest in the first place. He’s made one too many mistakes to be able to free at his home,” said Micayla Hadwen.

Police say don’t approach Breer if you see him. Instead, immediately call 911.

“There’s no widespread threat that he’s out there to harm anybody,” said Daley. “We just consider, from his lengthy and violent history, that he should be considered dangerous.”

There is an active warrant for Breer’s arrest on $100,000 bail on charges of first-degree aggravated domestic assault and resisting arrest.

Anyone with other tips or information that might assist the search is asked to call the Middlesex Barracks at 802-229-9191 or leave an anonymous tip via the Vermont State Police website.

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