MADAWASKA, Maine — A dispute over an apple led police to two men they charged with breaking into Madawaska Middle High School and liberating a rubber chicken from a classroom.
Late afternoon on July 17, one of the school custodians found a bite taken out of his apple and confronted his coworker about the deed. Paul Chasse, director of school facilities, safety, operations and maintenance, found the two bickering and said he would help them solve the issue by looking back through security camera footage.
While looking for the perpetrator of the apple caper, Chasse found footage of two men who appeared to have broken into the school. He notified police.
Police said that at the 4 a.m. mark on the recording, two men could be seen walking through the school, and at one point, were in possession of a rubber chicken apparently taken from a room in the school. It appeared to be the only item taken during the incident.
School officials and police said the men entered through a window into the community gym and then accessed the school through a door that was “inadvertently” left open to the rest of the school.
Screenshots that captured images of the men’s faces were posted on the police department’s Facebook page and quickly spread through local social media.
On Thursday morning, July 18, Madawaska Police Lt. Jamie Pelletier received a call from 21-year-old Benjamin Williams of Old Town, who said he was one of the men caught on camera and wanted to know what he needed to do to make it right.
Williams and Pelletier made arrangements to meet, and Williams drove from Old Town on July 22 to Madawaska where he was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and criminal mischief. Williams made bail and was released.
After a few days of playing phone tag with the other suspect, Lt. Pelletier finally made contact with 22-year-old Bronson Phillips of Glenburn. They made arrangements to meet and he was arrested on July 29 in Madawaska.
Police said Phillips is a truck driver and was waiting for a load of paper to haul when the two decided to go for a walk and ended up inside the school. Police also said that both men were cooperative and “showed remorse.”
One of the men offered to apologize to school officials while the other asked to do community service to make amends.
Both men have a court date of Sept. 4 and could face up to a $1,000 fine and 364 days in jail.