The Dartmouth Murders
Starting as Outlaws
The boys hoped to find credit card numbers by stealing mail from mailboxes. Sometimes they pulled mail out of mailboxes, rifled through it, and put it back in the box. Other times, they took it from mailboxes and looked through at their leisure. They got a credit card number once but could not use it.
While driving around, they spotted a Honda all-terrain vehicle on a trailer and decided to steal it. They returned a few days later in the wee hours of the morning and took it.
Later they rubbed off the serial numbers and painted over them. They hid the ATV under a tarp in a wooded area near Jim's home.
Rob and Jim put classified ads on the Internet for the ATV. Someone answered an ad, offering about $3,000 for it.
They were overjoyed. That was close to one third of the amount they believed they needed to get to Australia. They arranged to meet this potential buyer, who test-drove the ATV and then asked for the title and registration. Rob said he did not have them. The potential buyer said the deal was off.
Discouraged, the teens drove the ATV back to the woods near Jim's house. As Jim told investigators, it was another plan that "didn't go anywhere."
They discussed jumping people, robbing them and killing them. Rob said killing was necessary to eliminate witnesses. He also said they needed the experience of committing murder since they might live as criminals in Australia. Jim told investigators he "thought it was a good point."
Eventually, the pair settled on a plan to get into someone's home, tie up the residents, and threaten them into disclosing their PIN numbers. Then the teens would take their cash and kill them.
They drove to an abandoned house in Vershire, Vermont, where they dug a grave for the bodies of the victims they planned to kill that evening.
Decked out in black, army knives stuck in their boots, they went to a secluded home. Rob knocked on the door and said, "Can I use the phone? My battery's dead."
The suspicious homeowner told Rob he could not use the phone and Rob saw the man through a window standing in the doorway and holding a gun.
The disappointed duo left.
Undaunted, Rob was determined to make a heist. He decided to change his plan slightly. He and Jim would pretend to be students taking an environmental survey. Once inside, Rob would ask for a glass of water. That would be the signal to Jim to round up whoever else was at home. Rob and Jim would tie them up and force them to reveal their PIN numbers, steal whatever cash was around and kill them.
In late December, Jim drove his mother's Subaru to a large house in Vermont. They knocked on the door. A man answered and they asked if he would answer questions for an environmental survey. He said, "No, I'm tarring my pool."
On January 27, 2001, Jim and Rob drove to the hamlet of Etna and down Trescott Road. Jim told police interviewers that he wore a backpack in which he carried notebooks for the fake survey, duct tape and zip ties to subdue their victims, and the SOG SEAL 2000 knives with which to threaten and then kill them.
In the snow and cold, Rob knocked on the door.