Fryeburg man foils another burglary attempt

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

EAST FRYEBURG — It was an unpleasant case of déjà vu, for homeowner Elbridge Russell, when he arrived at his property at 1 Stanley Hill Road here last week and caught three alleged burglars in the act.

It was almost two years to the day, since Russell had come home and found another burglar ransacking his house at the corner of Route 302 and Stanley Hill Road and stealing his precious valuables — so, he pulled a gun on the thief and shot it in the air to warn him. The man who broke in to his house back then, 45-year-old David Duquette of South Portland, was convicted of burglary, theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and criminal mischief. Duquette is just now being let out of prison for “good behavior,” according to Russell.

This time, Russell said, he hopes the three people — two men and a woman — who allegedly burglarized his house on Oct. 20 “will get more than just a slap on the wrist.”

The 56-year-old Russell, a former Navy pilot, could well be in line for some kind of citizen’s arrest award.

He chased the three suspects in his pick-up truck for 18 and a half miles through four towns, all the while keeping police dispatchers abreast of what was happening and where they were heading. The police dispatchers, in turn, relayed the information provided by Russell to police officers from five law enforcement agencies, as they responded to the report of the burglary and the ensuing chase.

It all finally came to an end, when Maine State Police Detective Michael Zabarsky pulled the car containing the alleged suspects over in Hiram Village, moments before Oxford County Sheriff’s deputies and Fryeburg Police Officer Nick Cole arrived on scene. Law enforcement officers from the Maine Warden Service and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the call, Officer Cole said.

Fryeburg Police arrested three subjects for the burglary at Russell’s home — 38-year-old Eric Morabito of Buxton, 33-year-old Jason Sanborn and his wife, 30-year-old Misti Sanborn, both of Saco. The three alleged suspects were transported to the Oxford County Jail in Paris where bail was set at $500 each.

Through it all, Russell managed to stay cool, calm and collected, as he pursued the fleeing car through the rural communities of Fryeburg, Brownfield, Denmark and Hiram.

As Elbridge tells it

“I was coming home and, as I turned on to Stanley Hill Road, I noticed a strange car in the yard,” Russell said. “I sort of blocked the driveway with my truck, and then I started approaching the house, and an adult male came out of the house and I asked him what he was doing there. I asked him, ‘What are you doing robbing my house?’ Then another adult male came out of the barn and was heading toward the car and I told them, ‘I already called the police and gave them your license plate number.’ Then I saw a third person inside the house roaming around. I told the two men to lie on the ground, but they wouldn’t. Then I heard glass breaking, and it was a woman who came running from the house toward the car. The guy that came out of the barn started the car and the others jumped in. He put the car in gear and kind of came at me, as I was yelling at him to stop. He couldn’t get through the driveway, so he drove through the lilac bushes on to Route 302. I got into my truck and we headed east on Route 302 and then turned onto Denmark Road and then took a right on Rocky Knoll Road. From Rocky Knoll Road, their car turned onto Blake Hill Road (also known as Lord’s Hill Road) toward Brownfield and Route 160. We hit Route 160 and took a left back toward Denmark. We got to the top of the hill by the monument in Denmark Village and then turned right onto Bullring Road (Route 117) and down to the Four Corners Store in Hiram where we took a left onto Sebago Road, and there they met up with the State trooper. So, from Fryeburg to Denmark to Brownfield to Hiram  — 18 and a half miles. They (the alleged suspects) were throwing stuff out of the car, most of the way.”

Asked how fast they he was driving, during his pursuit of the suspects, Russell replied, “I don’t know, I was watching the road.”

How did he feel, once he knew the police had pulled the alleged suspects over?

“I parked my truck 50 yards away, waiting for a second law enforcement vehicle to show up,” Russell said, “and then I felt very sure they weren’t going anywhere.”

Recalling the first time, two years ago, when the other burglar hit his home, Russell stated, “It was two years ago to the week, from the last time!”

Russell said he definitely wants justice to be served, this time around.

“I just hope the court system punishes these burglars with more than just a slap on the wrist,” said Russell. “The fact that they were from Saco and knew the back roads here as well as they did means, to me, that they’ve spent too much time around here. They knew every back road!”

Russell said he estimates the value of the items stolen from his house “in excess of $10,000.”

“They got a bunch of stuff. They took antiques and guns and jewelry,” Russell stated. “A good portion of it, we (he and the police) found on the side of the road and in the woods. We did not find any of the jewelry. We backtracked that night, and I spent five hours the next day (looking for items that been tossed out of the alleged suspects’ car).

“Everybody worked well together — the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, the Maine State Police and Fryeburg Police,” said Russell. “They stopped them, and they took them to jail where they belong! I hope the court dishes out some good punishment to them. I don’t believe this is the first time they were at it!”

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