Investigators have their first break in the fatal shooting of David Auclair, 45, of Williston eight weeks ago in Hinesburg with the arrest of his stepson on federal gun charges.
Kory Lee George, 31, of Monkton, a five-time convicted felon, was charged Wednesday with illegal possession of a stolen 9-mm Beretta by a convicted felon in July, according to U.S. District Court records.
The stolen gun was the same weapon used to kill Auclair at the LaPlatte Headwaters Town Forest trailhead parking lot off Gilman Road in Hinesburg on July 11, Vermont State Police said.
Auclair was shot nine times, records show. They note his head and torso were under his gray 2017 GMC pickup truck in the parking lot. He had grease on his hands and it appeared Auclair tried to crawl under his truck to get away from the shooter, state police said.
No one has been charged with the actual killing.
George appeared briefly in federal court Wednesday afternoon as The Citizen went to press.
Federal Magistrate John M. Conroy agreed to a request by prosecutors to continue the hearing until 11 a.m. Friday on the motion to detain George as both a danger to the community and a risk to flee. In the meantime, George, who said he worked for Farrell Distributing, will be held by the U.S. Marshals Service, Conroy said.
George also is charged with possessing a 12-gauge shotgun that was stolen during a burglary at a hunting camp owned by a friend in Childwold, N.Y. in upstate New York in early 2019, court records show. Several guns and ammunition were stolen from the camp in St. Lawrence County, police said. The camp owners reported George had visited the property before the burglary, Detective Sgt. James Vooris said.
The stolen shotgun was recovered Aug. 2 during a court-ordered search at a mobile home shared by George and his girlfriend Kirstin Stillwell, and parked in the driveway of 116 Cattail Lane in Monkton, police said.
A quiet investigation and the suspect
Police have been fairly closed-mouthed since the Auclair homicide and not making the routine requests in major cases seeking help from the public. That silence is traditionally an indication the police have a suspect or suspects in a case and are focusing on them.
George’s criminal record includes felony convictions for escape in December 2017, assault and robbery with a weapon October 2008, grand larceny October 2008, burglary into an occupied dwelling December 2007 and burglary December 2007, records show.
Prosecutors maintain George would be a danger if released. They noted three guns, including the Baretta, were stolen from a Colchester residence, but two remain missing, records show. A second 9-mm Beretta and a Llama .380 caliber pistol, along with loaded magazine have disappeared, records show.
“Evidence relating to the shooting, meanwhile, indicates that the murder of the defendant’s step-father was carefully planned and executed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Spencer Willig wrote in a detention motion. “The victim was apparently lured via a call from a prepaid cell phone to an isolated trailhead late in the evening,” he wrote.
The shooter left no casings behind at the crime scene.
“Other handguns stolen along with the Beretta remain missing, heightening the risk the defendant’s release would pose to the community,”
Prosecutors maintain George is unlikely to appear at future court hearings. They noted that aside from his escape conviction, he has seven failures to appear for court, two other convictions for violating court orders and numerous charges for violations of parole.
George was on parole at the time of the gun possessions, wrote Willig, who is prosecuting the case with veteran Assistant U.S. Attorney William Darrow.
Chief Federal Public Defender Michael L. Desautels, who is representing George, did not object to the delay.
The gun used in the homicide was stolen from the Arbor Lane residence of James Synott in Colchester on July 10 shortly after George met with his mother, Angela Auclair, at the University Mall in South Burlington, Vermont State Police said.
About an hour later, Angela Auclair and her estranged husband, David Auclair, were out to dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Colchester with Synott, leaving his home vacant, said Detective Sgt. James Vooris. Synott, a retired airline pilot, said he was a friend of David Auclair and his parents.
George, his girlfriend Kirstin Stillwell and Auclair’s boyfriend, John Turner, drove to Synott’s home about 6:04 p.m., records show. Video and electronic evidence indicate George was dropped off near the Synott house, that the house was entered and that George left about 10 minutes later, said Vooris, who is assigned to the Major Crime Unit.
Police said David Auclair was lured the following night to parking area in Hinesburg and investigators believe it was through a 9:15 p.m. phone call made from a pre-paid Trac phone bought at the Rite Aid in Milton the day of the shooting, Vooris said. The shooting happened about 9:45 p.m. It was one of only two calls made from the phone, police said.
George admitted he entered the Rite Aid the day of the shooting, but said he could not recall what he bought, police said. The buyer paid cash and used a Rite Aid frequent shopper ID associated with Meaghan Parrot, Vooris said. Police said George told investigators he was at Parrot’s residence the night of July 11 – the date his stepfather was killed.
Several pieces of evidence
Angela Auclair and David Auclair were in a strained relationship. Vooris said the investigation showed the two maintained separate bedrooms before his death and that Turner visited the residence and had a romantic relationship with Angela Auclair, Vooris said.
She had four children, including George, before marrying Auclair.
A few days after the killing, state police also recovered some slugs from the stolen gun that were test-fired at a Monkton home apparently a few hours after the gun theft, Vooris said.
The stolen Beretta and the cellphone were both recovered from the Lewis Creek off Tyler Bridge Road in Monkton three days after the homicide, Vooris said. The gun did not appear to have been in the water long because there was no rust or corrosion.
The location is close to 116 Cattail Lane, the former residence of David and Angela Auclair and where George was living, records show.
The Vermont Crime Lab has certified the bullets taken from Auclair’s body matched those test-fired from the Beretta, records show.
The gun theft
Records show Angela Auclair texted her estranged husband at 5:24 p.m. to say she was headed to the Lighthouse restaurant on July 10 for their planned dinner with Synott. Two minutes later, Turner was leaving the University Mall and headed north, police said. A vehicle matching his description was spotted about 5:36 p.m. on a surveillance camera at a business on Roosevelt Highway (U.S. 2 & 7) in Colchester.
Turner’s phone showed he stopped in the vicinity of the Spanked Puppy bar on Roosevelt Highway and Vermont 2A at about 5:40 p.m. and remained there until 6 p.m., police said. While waiting, Angela Auclair texted him about 5:48 p.m. to say, “No one here yet not till 6.”
Video show Synott left his home at 5:40 p.m.
Turner’s cellphone showed he started to move again from the Spanked Puppy about 5:57 p.m. and eventually arrived at Arbor Lane, which is 1.3 miles from the bar.
Meanwhile other video showed Turner’s SUV and George’s Toyota Corolla traveling in tandem south on Roosevelt Highway about 6:38 p.m.
Detective Sgt. Sam Truex reported Turner later told police that he had dropped off George in the neighborhood and thought he was trying “to sell THC cartridges.” Turner said later Stillwell never got out of the car and when George returned he was carrying a black bag.
Turner’s cellphone corroborated other forensic evidence and his statements that he drove to the area of Synott’s residence and dropped off George, records show.
Police said no shell casings were found at the homicide scene, but investigators later recovered a bag “possibly used as a cartridge-capture device, with elastic bands at the bottom (where a shooter’s wrist might go into the bag), and a hole apparently shot through one end, Vooris wrote.
2017 armed robbery
One of George’s felony convictions involves an armed robbery and a coordinated ambush in the University Mall parking garage. George threatened a jewelry store clerk as she returned to her car with the store’s daily deposit in her purse, the prosecution maintained.
As George fled, the victim noticed her car tire had been slashed. George was caught with the purse, the woman’s cellphone and five bullets, while an accomplice apparently disposed of the handgun, South Burlington Police reported.