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Police: Man admits to killing Manchester pawn shop owner

CANDIA — A Manchester man accused in the decade-old shooting death of George Jodoin admitted to the killing, saying he shot the pawn shop owner after becoming &#';really mad&#'; when Jodoin made sexual advances toward him, according to court documents.

Arthur Collins, 43, of 113 Conant St., told investigators he was not thinking, had &#';blacked out,&#'; pointed the gun at Jodoin and fired two shots. He maintained the gun had a hair trigger and just went off.

Before confessing, which came after he failed a polygraph test, Collins tried to pin the 2001 murder on another man, according to the sworn affidavit of state Cold Case Unit investigator Robert Freitas on file in 10th Circuit Court, Candia District.

Initially, Collins told investigators he was outside in his truck when he saw two flashes, heard two bangs and saw James Laroche come running out of Jodoin's home with a &#';gun and holster,&#'; and got into his truck. Laroche, he told investigators, said he hurt George bad.

Collins explained he lied to the original investigators about arriving home at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, 2001, about 90 minutes before Jodoin, who co-owned the Mr. I Buy and Sell Everything pawn shop in Manchester, was killed. He said he was scared and Laroche had threatened him and told him not to say anything.

Everything fell apart for Collins, however, when detectives spoke to a family member who said Collins came home around midnight, after Jodoin was murdered.

And then Laroche, who denied any involvement in the shooting or even being at Jodoin's house that night, passed a polygraph test, while Collins' polygraph found him to be &#';deceptive/untruthful&#'; according to the affidavit.

Told the polygraph results, police said Collins admitted he shot and killed Jodoin. Laroche, he told investigators, was not there.

According to the court records, Collins went to Jodoin's 718 Chester Road home on Dec. 26, 2001, with his tow truck and removed several junk vehicles from the property. Peter Jodoin, one of Jodoin's brothers, and Ricky Caron were there that afternoon working on a boiler. The three also had done some target shooting on the property.

Jodoin, 50, asked Collins to fix a flat tire for him and told Collins to come back to the house later for drinks.

Collins did return that night, in his Ford F-150 pickup truck, and dropped off the repaired tire. He and Jodoin began drinking &#';heavily&#'; and both were intoxicated, he told investigators.

An autopsy determined Jodoin was shot twice in the head and once in the neck. He had a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit for intoxication.

Collins said Jodoin tried to engage him in oral sex and grabbed him and forced him into the bedroom to &#';do stuff to him,&#'; Freitas wrote. Collins got away from Jodoin and ran to the kitchen to get Jodoin's Ruger Red Hawk .44 caliber revolver from the kitchen table. The Jodoins and Caron had fired the gun earlier in the afternoon and had left it on the table.

After the shooting, Collins ran out of the house, taking the gun and holster with him, but forgetting his sweater inside. He went back inside the house, retrieved the sweater and then drove to his home, then in Candia.

Investigators said drawers in George's bedroom were found open, but Collins denied he went through them or took anything.

Collins got rid of the murder weapon by putting it in the spare tire well in the trunk of a junk car, filled it with metal and metal car parts and then towed it to Advance Recycling, across from Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, where he sold the car for scrap metal. He told investigators he believes the car and its contents were crushed.

Police recovered a bullet from a tree on Jodoin's property that was fired from the handgun earlier in the day by the Jodoins and Caron. The markings on that bullet and a bullet removed from Jodoin's head at autopsy were found to have come from the same gun barrel, according to the State Police Forensic Lab.

pgrossmith@unionleader.com

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