HAVERHILL — Police charged a local teenager in connection with a vandalism spree last month in which private and public property was tagged with black and red spray paint, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
The targets included Comeau Bridge, businesses, stop signs, cars, signs, fences and the outside of an apartment building, police said.
Christian Moscone, 19, of 106 River St., No. 1, was arrested Wednesday after an investigation. Most of the tagging took place between the evening of Saturday, March 17, and the next morning, when police started getting reports of damage. Moscone is charged with 14 counts of defacing property.
Several business owners said they removed the graffiti they found on Sunday, then found more the next day.
If convicted, Moscone faces up to three years in state prison. He could also be fined up to $1,500 or three times the value of the property damaged, may have to pay restitution and could have his driver's license suspended for a year.
According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, police received an anonymous tip that Moscone was involved in the vandalism. Detectives John Moses and Sean Scharneck, the department's graffiti experts, investigated the vandalism and found that Moscone had a Facebook page displaying images similar to the tags on a building at 105 So. Prospect St. Moscone's Facebook page indicates he graduated from Pentucket Regional High School in 2011 and that he had studied illustration at Northern Essex Community College.
A prominent image on his Facebook page shows a map of the world with the word "HOPELESS" in dripping red paint across the map.
"This is still under investigation, and we are looking into the possibility of other suspects," Moses said.
Police learned that Moscone was from Merrimac but was living with two roommates in an apartment building at 106 River St., Haverhill. The owner, former City Councilor Krystine Hetel, reported to police on Tuesday that her building had been tagged with a smiley face and the word "RED," as was a building at 112 River St. that she owns. Police said Moscone's sister lives in the 112 River St. building.
Police interviewed Moscone Tuesday at the police station, where he told them he is interested in art, did some in high school and posted some of it on his Facebook page, police said. When shown images of the vandalism, Moscone said they were similar to what he draws but that someone may have been copying his style of art.
At his arraignment yesterday in Haverhill District Court, Moscone was released on the $500 cash bail he posted the night before when he was booked at the police station.
Judge Stephen Abany ordered Moscone to stay out of trouble or risk being held without bail for up to 60 days. Moscone must report for a pretrial hearing May 16.
Moscone told police that on the night of March 17, he was in Boston with a friend and took the train back to Newburyport, where he stayed the night. Police said Moscone told them he knew who did the damage, but would not identify them because he feared they would kill him. He said he would take full responsibility for the vandalism.
Police were granted a search warrant for Moscone's apartment and searched it Tuesday. Moscone was at work but had previously consented to the search, police said. Officers found a hoodie and other articles of clothing covered in red spray paint, along with notebooks that Moscone said would be there and which contained "scary smiley faces" similar to what was on some of the buildings that were tagged.
"The suspect had a hand-made stencil of 'RED' that was found inside his closet," Moses wrote in his report, adding that the suspect appeared to have some disturbing images of figures shooting or killing each other. Police returned to Moscone's apartment on Wednesday and arrested him.
Among the places tagged were the Comeau Bridge, where an abutment and brass plaque on the Bradford end of the bridge were sprayed with red paint. Just around the corner, several businesses along South Elm Street were tagged, including Schroeder's Auto Body at 189 S. Elm St.
Owner Karl Schroeder told police his building had been tagged early that Sunday morning and that he had cleaned it off, but when he returned to work the next morning he discovered his building had been tagged a second time. This time, four faces and the word "RED" were painted on his garage door, he told police.
Police said while an officer was talking to Schroeder, he noticed a stop sign at the end of South Elm Street was also tagged with the word "RED."
According to police reports filed that Sunday, a cinder block exterior wall of D.T. Realty Trust at 105 S. Prospect St. as well as a fence at 188 S. Pleasant St. were spray-painted with red paint. Police said the markings matched what they found on the Comeau Bridge. A witness told police that as many as seven people may have been involved and that they may have been recording the incident on video.
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