The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on December 22, 1991 · 44
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 44

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Sunday, December 22, 1991
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.44 THE BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE W DECEMBER 22, 1991 -rf Vermonters give DGIMNG Continued from Page 43 trees from him the day before. One was for the woman's neighbor, a shut-in. The other was for the woman herself for, while she was delivering the gift tree, someone had stolen hers from her front porch. "She was crestfallen. I said this one's on me. Now you can forget about the one that was stolen, right?" said Squier, who advertises that he will give a tree to any person who can't afford one - providing the person doesn't smoke or drink. No questions asked, not even a name. "The Bible says not to judge, sol don't. But you always know if they really need it. The trees I give away aren't the best in the lot. Some people go through them all, asking 'Haven't you got something better?' Then they leave without one. But for those who really need it, any tree is a beauty to them. It's great to see," he said. Squier won't say how many trees he has given away this holiday season, although he concedes it is a goodly percentage of the 500 that Todays Neighborhood Drugstore WW- M IK!w teg ririrjann r" S7x 35 White Street Porter MMfl 1 (" Dishing i have left his lot "If I knew I wouldn't say. It's not the giver that's important, but the given. The object is to let people who can't afford one have a Christmas tree. There's been a lot more asking than last year, which was more than the year before," he said. In this, Squier is carrying on the tradition established decades ago by his father, John J. Squier - known locally simply as Farmer John. Until his death three years ago, Farmer John's mixed style of self-promotion and altruism was well-known and like no one else's before or since. Along with free Christmas trees, Farmer John invited senior citizens to come to his apple orchard and pick for free. In 1979, spurred by news accounts of suffering and mass starvation in Southeast Asia and the plight of the boat people, Farmer John put an ad in the local paper challenging the clergy "to get your butt going to find some shelter" for a needy refugee family. In return, he promised to feed the family for a year - which he did, after local church people responded to the challenge by sponsoring the relocation of a needy family from Cambodia. Like his father before him, Marshall Squier gives trees to local schools. When the children come to pick one out, he tells them not to write him a thank you note, but to write to someone in a nursing home. "Pass it on. Keep it going," says Squier - who figures there's still time to cut wood to last the winter and only a few weeks to spread around the Christmas spirit. Sharing with prisoners Not far away, on another street in Rutland, Jill Ford and her 11-year-old son, Sha-mus Patry, were cooking angel hair n a n LOJITULOJ PHARMACY PHONE NUMBER You A Happy Holiday Season of themselves to less fortunate X" V fx I h : f , ; :', Lynne Colville checks Wesley Wlllard's blood pressure at the Open Door Mission, where the registered nurse has volunteered since 1988. pasta, tomato sauce and garlic bread for the 11 residents of Dismas House, a halfway house for former prisoners established by Rita McCaffrey, a former state senator and longtime advocate for programs to help prisoners make a positive transition to life outside of jail. Square & Safe om GLOBE STAFF PHOTO WENDY MAEDA On this evening, as on most nights of the week, McCaffrey and her husband, District Judge Francis McCaffrey - who might have sentenced some of the inmates his wife later works to rehabilitate - were having dinner with the Dismas House residents. Dismas House, a national program that brings together inmates and students from local colleges, is based on the concept that a homey environment, interaction be Family searches for about death of their a PAQUETTE Continued from Page 43 the brutal killing a month earlier of a 14-year-old Manchester girl, Pamela Mason, whose body was found in a snow-covered ditch along what is now Interstate 93. She had been sexually assaulted, beaten, stabbed four times and shot twice in the head. A massive police search was under way for Mason's killer, and there was an escalating sense of fear that "a nut was on the loose," said former Manchester police investigator David Lord, now 74. Four years earlier, 18-year-old Sandra Valade of Manchester had been murdered in a way that authorities described as strikingly similar to the Mason case. At the time, Rena Paquette told family members that she had been disturbed by telephone calls about the Mason case that she said she received from a French-speaking woman who became known by the family as the "Mademoiselle." Their mother said the caller directed her to the pigsty in search of clues to the Mason murder, family members said, adding that they believe she went there several times before her death. Paquette had gone to investigators with her tips and suspicions and had discussed her concerns with her priest according to case records. But her leads were "thoroughly checked and discounted," the attorney general's office said in a press release after her death. "She was a pain in the neck," William Maynard, the attorney general at the time, said in a recent interview. Seven days after Paquette's death, police arrested a bakery route employee, Edward H. Coolidge Jr., then 28, after a neighbor reported seeing him leave his house the night Mason disappeared, armed with a rifle, according to Lord. Coolidge pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 to 40 years in prison. He was discharged from a prison near Richmond, Va., in March. From the day in 1964 that the original autopsy report was issued, Arthur Paquette Sr. disputed the attorney general's claim that his wife committed suicide because she-was despondent both about the Mason case and about President John F. Kennedy" assassination the previous November. Paquette also said that tween the fortunate and the disenfranchised, and simple, straightforward rules create the kind of environment from which both college students and former inmates can benefit. Rita McCaffrey founded a Dis-t mas House in Burlington, the state's largest city, five years ago. The Rutland facility opened this summer. What makes it work, says McCaffrey, is that despite strong opposition from some neighbors, the houses have tremendous community support. Each night, volunteers like Ford prepare a meal for the residents, bringing with them their view of the world. Among the 13 sitting around the table Thursday night, Spencer Cole, 26, in jail on a burglary conviction, was enjoying a meal quite different from prison fare. Cole is ready for community placement, but needs an approved place to live before Corrections Department officials will release him. A recent graduate of ThresholdsDecisions, a decisionmaking program established in the 1970s in Vermont jails by Rita McCaffrey, Cole said his offense "was my first and last It's my past and I'm using it." Cole said Thresholds "helped me tremendously, as did my time in jail, believe it or not My attitude has changed a lot But it's very hard, after being out of work for six months, to come out of jail, get a place to live and stay out of trouble." "That's why we're here," said McCaffrey. Ford said it wasn't a hassle to find a day a month to cook for the house residents. "I think Dismas House is a wonderful idea. Necessary. I don't consider this a chore. I enjoy it," she said. Missionary zeal On the other side of town, psychiatric nurse Lynne Colville takes a break from her busy day on the psychiatric ward of the Rutland Regional Medical Center to 'I don't see any way to have ruled this a suicide. . . . It is one of more bizarre ones I've ever seen.' DR. ROGER N. FOSSUM, New Hampshire medical examiner his wife, a devout Roman Catholic, would not have taken her own life. Victor Paquette says that his mother was happily planning a second honeymoon in Washington that spring, and planned to visit a daughter there. "The only problem she had was her knowledge of the acts of Edward Coolidge," he said. "And she told that to too many people." But a police report two days after the death notes that a parish priest described Paquette as "quite disturbed" about the Mason case. In a newspaper report, Arthur Paquette said he told his wife on the day she died to "get her nose out of that case because it was upsetting her." Maynard, now 74, said that the Manchester police chief at the time of Rena Paquette's death believed she was "mentally unstable," and Maynard said he concurred. Lord said, however, that he and other police investigators disagreed with the conclusion that Paquette had taken her own life. Lord said that when he arrived on the scene, the only entrance he saw to the pigsty was closed off by a barricade that was propped up from the outside with "a couple of small ' limbs of a tree." The barrier across the door is also noted in a report by the Londonderry Police Department which says that Paquette's body could be seen through a 4-foot-tall and 16-inch-wide "slot" in the door, but that "log braces" were holding the door shut When investigators' concerns were raised with Maynard, Lord said they were told that the medical examiner had made his finding "and that was it." Said Lord, "Our hands were tied." He said a number of the investigators involved in the Mason and Paquette cases have since died. The current state medical examiner said that the pattern of burns on Rena Paquette's body - her lower legs and feet were untouched - was not consistent with self-immolation check in on a patient at the clinic at -the Open Door Mission, a homeless ' shelter, soup kitchen, thrift store ! and outreach center for the areas'sr; needy. Twice a week since 1988, Colville';! has run the free clinic at the mission.! ; This week, Wesley Willard, 39, who!' suffers from emphysema and has!! been homeless for five years, needsl! special attention. But, on any given night Colville might minister to the!; minor medical needs of as many asj; 10 shelter residents or people fromj; the general community. Colville became interested in the! homeless while a graduate student ir ' 1988, traveling to Boston to volun! teer briefly in the Pine Street Inn's' nurses' station. ' "I just find the work very re warding. I've been fortunate in taf life and I like to give something back," said Colville, a mother of tw6 grown children. "But this is the harK dest part of working in the psychiar ric field, this time of year. Thafs when we see the most depression. It's also when you get the most Jpf preciation for even the small things." Sharon Russell, administrative assistant at the mission, says that despite hard times, people in Rut. land - a working-class community hit hard by lost industrial jobs a slowdown in the ski industry and the general recession - have been moor generous than ever this Christmas-season. The Rutland mission is the only facility in Vermont that provides, three free meals a day to the needy. Last year, 30,000 meals were served and another 30,000 meals were provided from the mission's food she$ In all, 10,000 bed nights were pro vided, along with many other aer-vices. "Rutland County people are just wonderful. Not just at this time of the year, but all year-round. It seems the more that they feel th,e pinch, the more they see the nee1 around them and respond," s&id Russell. ,' the truth mother i cases he has seen. And Fossum said there was no evidence of a container for the flammable liquid or what was used to ignite it. ' J '" Like the other investigators", Fossum also questioned why Paquette would have trudged a mile In the snow to the pigsty clad only in a nightdress, moccasins and a light coat He said he could not rule g&t the possibility that Paquette may have been stabbed or suffocated prior to the fire. Given the totality of the caii, said Fossum, "I don't see any way'to have ruled this a suicide." If it wasa suicide, Fossum said, "it is onebf more bizarre ones I've ever seen.'"r Efforts to reach the medical, examiner at the time of Paquette!s death were unsuccessful. Arthur Paquette Sr. died in 1977 and the children lived quietly with their convictions about their mover's death until 1985, when a brother, Danny, 36, was fatally shot in the back while working on a tractor in Hooksett. In 1964, it was Danny who had stayed home from school fpra dentist's appointment, and it was Jie who first realized that his mother was missing from the farmhouse.,.. Richard Baron, who knew.te' Paquettes as a child and is writing, a book about the deaths, said he suspects that Danny was killed because of information he revealed under hypnosis about Edward Coolidgejr Victor Paquette is convinced that his brother was murdered. The attorney general's office says the pase remains under investigation, either as a hunting accident - it was the first day of deer season - or a homicide. ...j. Two violent deaths in the family were too much for Victor Paquette, and Danny's loss only hardened, his resolve to find some answers. He has two briefcases full of research now, "one for Danny and one for Mom-." He has vowed to carry on. "If it takes me all my life, I'm going to stay on it"he said. -f V

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