News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

Police & Fire

Crews Removing Rubble Of Hartwick Seminary Fire

Crews Removing Rubble

Of Hartwick Seminary Fire

Crews were at 4703 Route 28, Hartwick Seminary today, removing rubble and remains of a home that burned Sunday, Oct. 21, leaving a family of six and their landlord homeless.  The family, and tiny Yipsie, their pet dog, have since been relocated to a home in Toddsville.    The home is across Route 28 from Cooperstown Commons, the shopping plaza.  ( photo)
Four Men Arrested In Plot To Bomb Islamberg

4 Men Arrested

In Bombing Plot

Against Islamberg

Andrew C. Crysel, 18, Vincent R. Vetromile, 19, and Brian F. Colaneri, 20

A group of high school students at Odyssey Academy in Greece, near Rochester, tipped off police that one of their classmates was allegedly part of a plot to bomb Islamberg, the small Muslim community in Delaware County.

Officers with the Greece Police Department Saturday arrested Brian F. Colaneri, 20, and Vincent Vetromile, 19, both of Greece, and Andrew C. Crysel, 18, of East Rochester, as well as a 16-year-old student at Odyssey Academy after the tip, allegedly finding three improvised explosive devices, packed with nails and powder, at the home the 16-year-old suspect.

Police additionally found 23 firearms — a combination of shotguns and rifles — across the suspects’ residences.


Truck Overturns On I-88 Near Sidney

Truck Overturns

On I-88 Near Sidney

Unadilla and Wells Bridge firefighters clear boxes of spilled food and drinks away from the scene of a tractor-trailer rollover last night in Unadilla. (Photo courtesy Wells Bridge Fire Department)

SIDNEY – I-88 is open again following a tractor-trailer accident that left the truck driver injured and fuel and cargo scattered on the roadside.

James E. Witt, 40, Scio was traveling eastbound on I-88 in Sidney when he traveled off the southern shoulder and traveled approximately 500 feet before striking earth embankment and overturning on its side. Unadilla and Wells Bridge Fire Departments were dispatched to the scene at 5:23 p.m. and the Witt was transported to Wilson Hospital complaining of head and rib pain.

Oneonta Police Host Active Shooter Education At Fox

Oneonta Police To Train Public

On Dealing With ‘Active Shooter’

ONEONTA – The Oneonta Police Department this week will host two interactive, discussion-based community-education sessions on what to do in the event of an active shooter in a public place.

The first session will be 11 a.m-1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, and the second 3-5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23. Both will be in Classroom 1 at the Foxcare Center. Both programs are free and open to the public.

30 Accidents Reported Overnight; No Serious Injuries

Slick Roads Cause 30 Crashes;

No Serious Injuries Reported

Joining people all over Otsego County, Linda Parmalee clears 4 inches of snow that fell overnight from her Glen Avenue home, Cooperstown. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – Snow and slippery roads caused 30 car accidents overnight throughout the county, according to Robert O’Brien, Director of E-911 Communications.

Though no serious injuries were reported, O’Brien said that Fire and EMS teams responded to seven of the motor vehicle accidents.

Flurries are expected today, but no accumulation, according to the National Weather Service.

Police Seize License Plates After 20-Fatality Accident

Police Seize License Plates

After 20-Fatality Accident

ALBANY — State Police began quietly seizing license plates from unauthorized limousines following the Oct. 6 crash in Schoharie County where 20 people were killed when a stretch limo that was supposed to be off the road careened through an intersection and crashed, the Times-Union is reporting today.






Roz Devlin ‘Chose Voluntarily’

To Separate From Department

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – When Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. took his oath of office last Tuesday, a new term began for him, and a new day for his department.

The allegations against his son, Roz Devlin, were resolved with the younger man’s resignation in December from his correctional officer position, county Board Chair David Bliss said today.

Heller Might Not Have Been Target, Testimony Suggests

Heller Might Not

Have Been Target,

Testimony Suggests

Women’s Apartment Door ‘Covered’

On Floor Below Where Hero Died

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Terrence Truitt, center, is led back into the Otsego County Corrections van following the conclusion of his felony hearing this afternoon. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – A burned spray can was found outside the door of a woman’s apartment at 5 Walling Ave., state investigators told City Judge Lucy Bernier during testimony today.

And the bottom of Heather Engler’s door was “covered,” state Fire Investigator Christopher Lupold testified.

The testimony suggests the woman may have been the target, rather than the man who died: John D. Heller, 38, who was asleep one floor up with his fiancée  and his four nephews.

The spray can, burned beyond recognition, was found amid the debris found during the investigation into the fire that killed the former Oneonta firefighter who helped the four boys and fiancée Amber Roe escape before succumbing to the fire.

Detective: Arson Suspect Kept Changing His Story

Detective: Arson Suspect

Kept Changing His Story

In One Version, Truitt Said He Visited
Second-Floor Tenant, Detective Testifies

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Deputy Sheriff Prostak, right, leads arson suspect Terrence Truitt into Oneonta’s City Court bulding this afternoon. (Jennifer Hill/

ONEONTA – No motive was specified when Terrance Truitt, 34, accused of arson, first degree, in last Saturday’s fatal fire at 5 Walling Ave., appeared for a felony hearing this afternoon in City Court.

However, Truitt acted suspiciously, testified Oneonta Police  Detective Sgt. Branden Collison, who led the investigation.  “He was very deceptive in his answers,” said Collison.

The hearing adjourned after one and a half hours, and will be continued, tentatively at 10 a.m. Monday.

Truitt’s Felony Hearing Rescheduled For 1:30 p.m. In Oneonta City Court

Truitt Felony Hearing Scheduled

For 1:30 p.m. In Oneonta Court

ONEONTA – Terrence Truitt, 34, suspected in the arson death of former firefighter John Heller last Saturday in the 5 Walling Ave. fire, had his felony hearing rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. today.  He was brought to the city’s Public Safety Center at 8:30 this morning, but did not appear in the courtroom during the regular morning session.

Truitt In Court On Arson Charge

Truitt In Court

On Arson Charge

Terrence Truitt, 34, arrives at Oneonta City Court, where he is attending a felony hearing at this hour. According to the felony complaint, investigators believe he intentionally set a fire in the second-floor hallway of 5 Walling Ave. Saturday, Dec. 29. The fire killed former firefighter John Heller, 38, who lived on the third floor; Heller’s funeral is at 1 p.m. today at Foothills. (Libby Cudmore & Ian Austin/



Leads Poured In, Leading To Arrest Of Oneonta Man, 34


Leads Poured In,

Leading To Arrest

Of Oneonta Man, 34

Police, Fire Chiefs Detail What’s Known

Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon, left, and Police Chief Doug Brenner detail what they know at a 5 p.m. press conference in Oneonta City Hall. For a video of the press conference, click here.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Terrence Truitt

ONEONTA – Within hours of Saturday morning’s fire that claimed the life of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, the leads began to pour in.

“We had more than 70 leads,” said Police Chief Doug Brenner an hour ago at a press conference held jointly with Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon. “And the investigation is continuing.”

The men reported Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, was arrested and charged with first-degree arson, which investigators believe started on the second floor of 5 Walling Ave.

Heller and his fiancee, Amber Roe, lived on the top floor, and had their four nephews staying with them that night. Heller and Roe helped the children escape, but then was unable to get out of the building.






Fighting back tears, Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon, left, and Police Chief Brenner announced that Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, was charged with arson in the fire that killed former firefighter John Heller. (Libby Cudmore/

ONEONTA – Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, has been charged with arson in Saturday’s fatal fire where a former fireman died, Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon and Police Chief Doug Brenner report in a press conference earlier this evening.

Three Homes Burn Over New Year’s Eve


3 Homes Burn

 New Year’s Eve 

Fly Creek firefighters battled a blaze that started in the chimney of a home on Route 80 early this morning. Overnight, two other homes burned down in Middlefield and Springfield. (Steve Baker/Contributed Photo)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Whipped by high winds, flames destroyed three homes in northern Otsego County overnight – in the towns of Middlefield, Springfield and Otsego.

At  9 p.m. New Year’s Eve, crews from the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Department were called to 207 Rezen Road after a passerby called 911 on observing a home on fire.

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