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Manchester police ready to wrap up probe of gun missing from evidence room

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 21. 2013 7:36PM

MANCHESTER — Investigators this week should wrap up their probe into the disappearance of a revolver from the Manchester police evidence room and, absent any new developments, likely will rule its whereabouts undetermined.

Police discovered the silver revolver missing sometime after the court ordered it be destroyed on Sept. 24, 2012 after the West Side man it was seized from pleaded guilty to threatening a couple with it in 2011.

Assistant Police Chief Nick Willard said he suspects the most likely scenario was the weapon was sent out to the company that pulverizes unwanted weapons for the police department, but was never properly recorded.

An in-depth investigation was launched before police moved to the new Valley Street headquarters shortly after Christmas.

Willard on Friday said officers conducting the probe will finalize their work this week. At present, he expects they will conclude the weapon’s whereabouts “undetermined” and suspend the case pending any new developments.

It is unclear when police first noticed the weapon missing, though they discovered it before moving to the new headquarters.

One reason Willard suspects the weapon was destroyed is that most of the eight other pieces of evidence seized in the case were destroyed Sept. 26, according to handwritten notes on evidence vouchers. The weapon and another unidentified piece of evidence are the only two pieces unaccounted for on evidence vouchers.

Police also investigated the possibility the weapon was lost, accidentally released to a civilian, or taken from the evidence room. Officers thoroughly searched the old police headquarters on Chestnut Street without success. They also scoured through evidence boxes to see if the weapon accidentally fell into one of them.

Police also tracked down the 222 handguns returned to their owners in the nine months following the Sept. 24 court order to see if the weapon had been given to the wrong person, Willard said. To date, all weapons are accounted for.

Willard said he does not believe the weapon ever left the old Chestnut Street station. He also said the possibility that any of the four evidence room staff were involved in its disappearance is the least likely scenario. He said statements were taken from all four, each denied any involvement and cooperated fully with the investigation.

None of the evidence room staff are accused in connection with the weapon’s disappearance.

Crime, law and justice Manchester

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