, Newburyport, MA

February 8, 2013

Four charged in 'mailbox baseball' spree

Police ask Feb. 2 vandalism victims to contact them

By Shawn Regan
Staff writer

---- — GROVELAND — They called it “mailbox baseball.”

Four teenagers have confessed to smashing at least 19 mailboxes and two car windows with a baseball bat during an early-morning spree Feb. 2, police said.

Police Deputy Chief Jeffrey Gillen said the suspects told police they were all sleeping over the house of one of the teenagers when they decided to drive to Haverhill at 1:30 a.m. to buy cigarettes. There are no stores open in Groveland at that hour, Gillen said.

“On the way home, one of the individuals grabbed a bat in the car and decided to play what they called ‘mailbox baseball,’” Gillen said. “At first they denied it, but after they confessed, they said they thought it was kind of funny.”

Gillen said officers responding to a report about youths vandalizing mailboxes on Rocky Woods Road wrote down the license plates of several vehicles they passed on the way there. Detective James Morton later connected one of the vehicles to the teenagers, Gillen said.

So far, police have learned of 19 mailboxes and two cars that were vandalized that night, Gillen said.

“There might be more, so we are asking anyone whose mailbox or car was damaged that night to contact us,” Gillen said, noting the vandalism occurred all over Groveland and was not isolated to any one area. “We think there may be more victims.”

Gillen said police will file charges at Haverhill District Court against the teenagers — Benjamin Tocci, 19, 2 Carlton St.; Brandon Yemmi, 17, 38 Groveland Commons Way; Tyler Kelly, 17, 24 Coleman Road; and Cody Hillner, 17, 169 School St. They will be summoned to court within the next few days, Gillen said. They will be charged with 19 counts of malicious destruction of property under $250 for the mailboxes, two counts of malicious destruction of property over $250 for the car windows, and disorderly conduct, Gillen said.

Police will ask for financial restitution on behalf of the victims as a condition of settling the court cases against those charged, Gillen said.

Gillen credited Morton and officers Heather Riley and Greg Pekarski for excellent police work in solving the case.