Notorious Vermont kidnapper faces new charges

MARSHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) One of Vermont's most notorious criminals is back behind bars and facing new charges. Harley Breer faces new kidnapping and domestic assault charges after an incident late Monday night. Breer pleaded not guilty to the three new felony charges in court Wednesday.

Harley Breer/File photo

Now, many people may be asking why a man with an extensive list of previous criminal convictions was out at all.

The 49-year-old Marshfield man might not have been out at all but for a plea deal with the state. Back in 2011, Breer faced life in prison after he reportedly beat up and threatened his then-girlfriend, and led police on a manhunt that put many Central Vermont towns on edge for days.

Even then, Breer was already violating parole for a 2003 kidnapping conviction of his ex-girlfriend's mother back in 1999. Prosecutors also charged him for rape in that case but couldn't make it stick. He spent eight years in prison for that crime.

His notoriety led police to beef up security while escorting him to court seven years ago.

Then, last spring, former state's attorney Scott Williams offered Breer a plea deal.

"I simply became convinced that this was the right outcome," Williams said at the time.

Even then, we wanted to know why someone with Breer's rap sheet wasn't going to face a jury.

"I decided that the risk of going to trial and Mr. Breer, and this is not meant as any offense to him, might well come out the other end with no convictions after a trial," Williams said.

And he told us the victim wanted it to be over.

We asked the current Washington County state's attorney, Rory Thibault, if Breer would remain behind bars now. Thibault, who was a prosecutor on Breer's case last year, sent WCAX News a statement Thursday evening that read in part, "If Mr. Breer's probation is revoked he would be sentenced to 20-45 years to serve, in addition to imprisonment for up to life for a conviction on any of the new charges."

Thibault went on to say that Breer does have credit toward time served from previous stints in jail. Which brings us back to Breer himself. He told the court last year that he was a changed man.

"Some of it's maturity, some of it's I've grown up. But today, I find myself looking at different things like how I became a grandfather in the last five years. So, I've got a different set of priorities," Breer said in May 2017.

Now, police say it appears he has gone back to his old ways.

Breer is behind bars at the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury. He is slated to be in court next week.