DURHAM, N.H. — A New Hampshire man who made national headlines after being named the sole suspect in the “Jack the Snipper” cases that plagued Durham in 2003 and 2004, is expected to be released from state prison in April.
Jeffrey Gelinas, 36, was convicted of attempted burglary in 2004. Prior to that conviction, eight other burglaries into homes and apartments in the town, a number of which involved the clothing of sleeping women being cut off their bodies, had been reported. Police named Gelinas as the primary suspect for the crimes.
He was convicted on just the burglary charge, however, and has now served most of his eight-year sentence. Last week, the Parole Board granted him parole and forbade him to enter Rockingham and Strafford counties.
Durham and University of New Hampshire police are alerting residents to his release to emphasize taking personal safety measures, habits that, according to Sgt. Michael Bilodeau, are things he hopes students and residents in town are doing already. He advised people to be aware of their surroundings, and lock the doors to their home and vehicles. He said the reminders are not just because of this individual, but to reiterate the fact that residents should maintain good safety practices.
“Anytime we have something like this in the community, we want to get the word out there so people are aware,” he said.
Many students currently enrolled at UNH were not on campus when these incidents struck and shook up the both the school and town.
Lillian Casterniel said she’d never heard of Gelianas, or the cases of “Jack the Snipper.”
“That’s pretty scary to think about,” she said to the thought of someone entering her apartment while she sleeps. While she said she normally does lock her door, she’ll be extra cautious knowing something like this happened so close to campus and multiple times.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Rebekah Waterman said. She said she was “creeped out” by “Jack the Snipper’s” actions.
Heather Dormaire, who said she’s new to the area, had a sibling attend UNH when the incidents occurred. She remembers hearing about Gelinas on the news.
“It seemed pretty crazy that he kept doing what he did,” she said. Dormaire said she’s not necessarily afraid that anything will happen on campus as a result of Gelinas’ release, but will be sure to know her surroundings. She said Durham is a place where she feels safe living.
Throughout the campus, a network of emergency call buttons are accessible, which will auto-dial UNH dispatch when pressed, should anyone need immediate assistance on campus grounds.
Erika Mantz, UNH media relations director, said university officials received news of his future release late on Friday. She said one way she thinks the university will raise awareness is through the student-run newspaper, The New Hampshire.
Bilodeau said he doesn’t believe Gelinas will be required to wear any sort of monitoring device to ensure he keeps out of Strafford and Rockingham counties, but said he did not know that definitively, or how officials plan to make sure he stays away from the area.
A public relations spokesperson from the state prison was not available on Saturday to answer those questions.
“He was in our community for a while and he scared our community. People should just take the necessary precautions,” Bilodeau said.
(c)2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)
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