Hostage takers’ weapon probed

Posted Dec. 03, 2008, at 10:13 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — Police believe the semiautomatic handgun taken from Randall Hofland after he held the Stockton Springs Elementary School fifth grade hostage five weeks ago was the same one reported stolen by a retired sea captain.

The revelation that the 10 mm Glock handgun could have been stolen was contained in an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant at Hofland’s Main Street residence last month.

Hofland, 55, was charged with nine counts of kidnapping and four counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon in the aftermath of an armed hostage-taking at the elementary school on Oct. 31. He faces an additional charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon for pulling the same handgun on a Searsport police officer a week before the hostage incident. He is being held on $1 million bail.

Hofland had been the subject of an intense manhunt from the moment he pulled the gun on the officer during an Oct. 23 safety check and then ran off into the woods. Police had no reported sightings of Hofland until he appeared at the elementary school Halloween morning.

At the school, Hofland pointed the gun at a bus driver when he was spotted in the cafeteria, then walked down the hall to the fifth-grade classroom. Once inside, he pointed the gun at the teacher and ordered her to leave the room. He then went to the corner where the children were huddled. He let two children leave the room immediately but kept the other nine hostage.

By that time more than a dozen police officers had arrived and surrounded the school. Hofland handed his gun belt containing the loaded Glock and five loaded magazines to a male student and left the classroom. He was immediately tackled, placed under arrest and taken to Waldo County Jail. He has since been transferred to the York County Jail.

According to the search warrant filed in 5th District Court this week by Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye, Hofland’s residence was given an initial search by the State Police Tactical Team the night he allegedly pulled the gun on the Searsport officer.

Authorities by that time had been in contact with Belfast private detective Gary Boynton of World-Wide Investigations and retired sea captain George Perkins of Searsport about some of Hofland’s other activities.

Perkins became ill in 2001 and his brother suggested that Hofland move in with him and serve as his caretaker. Perkins’ illness grew progressively worse and it was initially believed he was suffering from Alzheimer’s. His problem later was diagnosed as a spinal fluid leak and he spent five weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 2004 for treatment.

When he returned home, Perkins immediately began to discover that many of his personal belongings had disappeared. He contacted Boynton last year and the pair assembled a list of 128 items they believed were missing, including the handgun. In his affidavit, Chief LaHaye described the Glock-10 as a “rare” weapon and said he believed it was the same one taken from Hofland.

Using Boynton’s information, LaHaye and his officers returned to Hofland’s residence with a search warrant on Nov. 21. According to the warrant, Hofland basically used a 40-foot-long box trailer as his dwelling.

When they searched the property they found 74 items belonging to Perkins in the trailer and another 20 in a nearby shed. The items ranged from a 16-gauge shotgun and .22-caliber rifle to saltwater fishing poles and reels, hand-held and table variety power tools, hydraulic jacks, a boat, welding supplies, air compressors a box of books about birds, passports belonging to people other than Hofland, and items with Perkins’ name on them. LaHaye estimated the recovered items were worth many thousands of dollars.

There also were a number of computers that police took into their possession to review their contents. All of the other items recovered were returned to Perkins except a pickup truck and snowplow. Police have yet to determine whether they belonged to Perkins.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker said Wednesday that he already had informed the Superior Court that he was considering calling a special session of the Waldo County grand jury early next year specifically to review the Hofland case.

wgriffin@bangordailynews.net

338-9546

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