DEXTER, Maine — A domestic violence call led to nearly 200 marijuana plants being confiscated recently.
Dexter police Chief Kevin Wintle said he and Sgt. Alan Grinnell responded a domestic violence assault call at 10:20 a.m. Aug. 31. The assault happened the previous night at the Center Street building, which houses two apartments.
“On our arrival, the female victim had visible facial injuries,” said Wintle on Saturday. “She said her live-in boyfriend had just left.”
Wintle said the victim told Grinnell that another man was inside the apartment and he received her permission to search the residence.
“While the ambulance was assisting her, we went inside to see who the person was and if he was OK,” said Wintle.
In searching the west-side apartment, Wintle said he came across an indoor marijuana growing operation. Wintle and Grinnell went back downstairs to again talk with the victim.
“She gave us consent to find [the man who lived in the neighboring apartment], because he knew what was going on,” said Wintle.
Wintle went to talk with Gregory Bohan, 49, in the east-side apartment.
“He was being uncooperative and stated he heard yelling and screaming last night and that he had turned his TV up so he didn’t have to deal with it,” said Wintle.
While talking with Bohan, Wintle said he smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the apartment. Bohan eventually consented to a search after Grinnell told him they would get a search warrant if they had to.
“He let us into his apartment and there were several glass bottles of processed marijuana. There were also 63 marijuana plants growing in different rooms with numerous lighting equipment,” said Wintle.
Bohan was summoned for Class D cultivating marijuana, a misdemeanor. He’s due to appear at Newport District Court on Oct. 17.
Wintle and Grinnell also secured the marijuana growing operation in the victim’s apartment next door. In the west-side apartment, they recovered 128 marijuana plants with numerous growing lights and paraphernalia.
Wintle said the street value of the 191 marijuana plants and other marijuana confiscated was about $60,000.
Wintle and Grinnell went back to the victim’s apartment on Sept. 4 to do a follow up interview.
“We spoke to the victim at the door, she said everything was all set and that she was fine,” said Wintle. “She still had visible marks on her face. I didn’t have a good feeling about the situation.”
On a hunch, Wintle and Grinnell drove away. Wintle parked his cruiser in St. Ann’s Church parking lot and watched the apartment, because he said he saw a vehicle belonging to the victim’s boyfriend.
“I saw the vehicle moving in the driveway and back out about 25 minutes after I spoke to the victim,” said Wintle. “He came straight at me, not seeing where I was parked. I pulled out and the vehicle passed me. I recognized the individual.”
The driver was Donald Murdoch, who turns 47 on Sunday.
“Murdoch took an abrupt left after passing me to the upper St. Ann’s parking lot,” Wintle continued. “I radioed Grinnell to shut off the lower exit. I turned my car around and boxed Murdoch in.”
Wintle and Grinnell ordered Murdoch out of the car and onto the ground.
Murdoch was arrested and charged with domestic assault. He was later charged with Class C cultivating marijuana, a felony. A cultivating marijuana charge is escalated from a misdemeanor to a felony if the suspect has 100 or more plants.
Murdoch was taken to Penobscot County Jail in Bangor, and has since bailed out.
Wintle said his department has stepped up patrols in regards to drug enforcement.
“Since taking the chief’s role back in June and working for the department for 20-plus years, I’m going to have a zero tolerance policy for any type of drug activities. We’re building a strong team and we’re going to be very vigilant and proactive about it,” said Wintle.