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Gang threat prompts testimony in fatal prison attack

The man called in to clean up the blood after a prison inmate was brutally beaten in 2010 is now cooperating with investigators because the gang that carried out the attack has put a kill order on his head, according to an affidavit.

Randall Chapman’s testimony, given in exchange for being released early on parole, is contributing to murder charges to be filed against William Edic and Thomas Milton nearly three years after the attack, the affidavit says.

Both men were arrested over the past week and a half, Milton in Florida and Edic at the state prison in Concord where he’s incarcerated. Officials say the two men attacked 44-year-old Anthony Renzzulla inside that facility on July 26, 2010, repeatedly kicking him in the head until part of his skull caved in.

Edic, 31, and Milton, 30, have faced charges in connection with Renzzulla’s death before, counts of attempted murder and assault filed before the man died from his injuries following 16 months on life support.

While the affidavit filed yesterday in Concord’s district court doesn’t explain why those cases were suddenly dropped in May 2012, it does describe why officials believe Renzzulla was targeted: He was suspected of being a snitch. The police say the attack was ordered by a leader of the Brotherhood of White Warriors and carried out by Edic and Milton, members of that prison gang, which the Concord police say subscribes to white supremacist ideals and is responsible for smuggling drugs and committing assaults inside the facility.

The affidavit also makes clear that the prison’s own security personnel didn’t become aware of the attack while it was taking place or immediately afterward. Rather, the police say the girlfriend of an inmate notified the prison after her boyfriend called and asked her to.

In addition to interviews with Chapman, who Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said agreed to cooperate with investigators late last year, the police also spoke with seven prison inmates who are not named in the affidavit. Those men lived in the housing section where the attack occurred and shared what they claimed to have seen themselves or overheard, according to the affidavit.

Two men said Edic and Milton decided to test Renzzulla when they believed he may have been sharing tips with prison officials. They fed him false information through another inmate, and Milton once hid a syringe while Renzzulla watched, according to the affidavit.

“When a corrections officer later searched that area, Milton and the others believed that the victim had told, and decided to ‘deal with it,’ ” an investigator wrote in the affidavit, quoting one of the inmates who lived in the area.

The police said Chapman, also a member of the gang, told Edic and Milton that his brother was friends with Renzzulla, and he didn’t believe the man would snitch. But a third gang member, named in the affidavit but not here because he hasn’t been charged, ordered the attack regardless, the police said.

(Hinckley declined to comment on whether that man, who is incarcerated at the state prison, could face prosecution but said the investigation remains open.)

Chapman told an investigator that the man who ordered the assault arranged to have Renzzulla brought to an empty pod in the prison, “under the ruse of needing help to find a vein into which to inject a needle,” according to the affidavit.

Milton, wearing a cloth over his face and gloves on his hands so his knuckles wouldn’t scar, was waiting for Renzzulla when he came in, several inmates told investigators.

According to the affidavit, Milton punched him in the face and knocked him unconscious before he and Edic began repeatedly stomping on him for several minutes while calling him a “f---ing rat.”

‘Take care of that’

Chapman told investigators that he wasn’t present during the attack and found out about it when another inmate informed him there was “a bad fight upstairs.” When he arrived, the third gang member told him to “help them take care of that f---ing s---,” Chapman said.

The police say the men then cleaned up Renzzulla’s blood, Chapman with a mop and Edic with towels that were later flushed down the toilet. Edic dragged Renzzulla’s body out of the room, then later dragged it again to an exterior corridor outside the pod, leaving it by a phone booth, the police said.

Edic and Milton are currently facing charges for hindering prosecution and falsifying physical evidence related to their attempts to clean up the crime scene.

Chapman pleaded guilty in April 2012 to falsifying physical evidence and was sentenced to serve between 1 and 5 years in prison. According to a prison official, he was released on parole in October 2012, a release the affidavit makes clear was granted because he had agreed to cooperate with the police.

But members of the Brotherhood of White Warriors, also known as BOWW, wrongfully believed Chapman was working with officials ever since he agreed to the negotiated plea deal, according to the affidavit. Officials say Chapman learned in late 2012 that the group had placed a “terminate on site” directive against him, authorizing members of the group to attack him.

“Although Chapman had in fact not cooperated with investigators, the ‘TOS’ directive placed against him in large part provided the impetus for the assistance that he ultimately gave,” an investigator wrote in the affidavit.

Chapman agreed to talk to the police a few months after county prosecutors dropped the attempted murder cases against Edic and Milton.

Hinckley, who is prosecuting the case, declined to say yesterday what kind of protections Chapman is receiving for his involvement or if he is currently residing in New Hampshire.

“The investigators have worked diligently to ensure, above everything else, the safety an security of potential and actual witnesses,” he said. “And they’ll continue to do that.”

Call from outside

Prison officials were notified that Renzzulla’s bloody body was lying in a corridor through a call from outside of the prison, according to the affidavit The police say a woman whose boyfriend was incarcerated had notified the facility after he called her and asked that she report the body.

That inmate is not named in court documents.

Richard Gerry, warden at the prison, said yesterday that the area where the attack took place does not have video surveillance.

Renzzulla, Edic, Chapman and Milton were all living in the same medium-security housing building, one of three general population units. Gerry said those buildings are the lowest security level within the institution’s walls and hold the most inmates.

The unit where the attack took place then housed 280 men who were split among 12 pods, which include cells, a bathing area and shared living quarters, according to the affidavit. Renzzulla’s body was found on an open-air corridor outside one of the second-floor pods that faces an observation unit several hundred feet away, the police said.

Gerry said no fewer than three officers, possibly one or two more depending on the time of the day, are responsible for the 12-pod unit at any time. One of those officers is stationed in a control room while the others handle general duties and make hourly rounds, Gerry said.

He said the officers are directed to stagger those rounds so the inmates can’t anticipate their arrival but acknowledged that inmates can be left for stretches of up to an hour with no supervision. Gerry said he doesn’t have any reason to think policies weren’t followed the day Renzzulla was attacked but declined to provide specifics, citing the ongoing investigation.

Asked whether it was concerning that the prison found out about the attack through an individual outside the facility, not their guards, he said it was but added that constant supervision is not plausible.

“Certainly it’s a concern,” he said. “But the configuration of the facility, unless you put an officer 24 hours a day in every one of those pods, I don’t know how else you’d be able to provide that constant supervision you’re suggesting.”

While it’s unclear whether any of the involved parties lived in the pod where the attack occurred, the affidavit does note that the man who ordered the assault thought the area would be “empty.” Gerry said inmates are not allowed to enter pods where they do not live but said that is mostly a self-policing rule. He said the pod doors open to a general courtyard, and one inmate could hold the door open for another.

“Inmates know that they cannot be going into somebody else’s pod,” he said. “That’s called pod hopping. That’s being out of place, and they’re not supposed to do that. And they’re subject to disciplinary action if they’re caught doing that.”

Source of violence

BOWW was formed in 2005 within the state prison’s walls with the goal of protecting white inmates from perceived threats by other gang members, according to the Concord police. The group, which employes Nazi symbolism including swastikas, quickly became a major source of violence within the institution, leading officials to send several gang leaders to facilities in other states in an attempt to curtail their activities, the police said.

A city prosecutor has said the group has about 70 active members both inside and outside of the prison. The two men the Concord police believe have been directing the gang’s activities outside of the facility – Daniel Boothby and Matthew Peters – were arrested this month and charged with carrying out a violent armed robbery aimed at obtaining a large quantity of heroin.

According to the affidavit, Chapman said Edic bragged the day after the attack that it would “put BOWW on the map.”

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or
tnadolny@cmonitor.com
or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

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