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Overdose Issues, Gravesite Thefts Top Police Headlines

With 2012 coming to a close, we look back at the top police stories of the last year.

It was a busy year for the Wilmington Police Department, responding to a wide variety of calls throughout 2012.

During the year officers responded to multiple calls about drug abuse, and overdoses, prompting the creating of the Wilmington Substance Abuse Coalition. Another regular issue officers dealt with was the theft of items from graves at Wildwood Cemetery.

But those are just a few of the hot topics of 2012. Here is a look at five of the most popular stories published on Wilmington Patch in the last year.

King Street Drug Overdose Leads to Heroin Arrest (August 15)

A Wilmington man was arrested after a woman suffered a drug overdose outside of a King Street home.

Police Lt. Joe Desmond said a call came in at 3:33 p.m. from 29A King Street for a suspected overdose. When officers arrived they found a young female on the ground in front of the house who was, according to Desmond, responsive but “not doing well.”

In an effort to find out what had caused the woman, who survived, to collapse on the property, officers entered the home and found heroin, pills and other drug paraphernalia inside. Joshua Kivlehan, 18, of 29A King Street, was arrested at the scene and charged with possession of Class A drugs for allegedly having heroin at the home.

“It’s something that is a constant issue we deal with,” said Desmond. “It’s sad because in most cases it’s young people. They get hooked at a young age and it’s a difficult drug to kick.”

Wilmington Man Arrested Again for Housebreaks (April 5)

After weeks of surveillance, the Wilmington man charged with three homebreaks in town was arrested on in April once again for similar crimes in Methuen and Salem, N.H.

Police said Andrew Mondi, 25, of 37 Blanchard Road, was confronted by a Methuen homeowner before he fled the scene. Police followed Mondi into Boston and eventually into Charlestown where he pawned several of the stolen items, likely in exchange for drugs, said police.

The police surveillance continued into Everett, where Mondi pawned more of the stolen items. Police arrested him there and the Methuen homeowner positively identified Mondi as well as several pieces of jewelry he had in his pocket.

“We’ve been closely watching him,” said Wilmington Detective Pat Nally

Police Continue to Investigate Burnap Street Stabbing (July 11)

According to Lt. Brian Pupa, a mother called police shortly before 9 p.m. stating her daughter was in the hospital at Lahey Clinic after she had been stabbed earlier. After the stabbing, the victim's friends took her to the hospital.

Police went to the hospital to interview the victim, who had a stab wound to the shoulder. The victim told police who stabbed her and police put out a be on the lookout alert for the suspect.

"The two women were at a gathering at a home on Burnap Street," Pupa said. "The suspect went there, knowing the victim would be there. We believe it was a fight over a guy, the two were known to each other and not getting along."

A short time later, Billerica Police found the suspect and arrested Valerie R. Belding, 18, of 36 Jacquith Road in Wilmington, and charged her with armed assault to murder along with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Man Arrested for Driving Through Picket Line (October 5)

An already tense picket line at a Wilmington shipping company turned into a dangerous situation when a man drove his truck through police officers, leading to his arrest.

Wilmington Deputy Police Chief Bob Richter said that at about 9 a.m., an independent truck driver pulled into the entrance of xpedx at 613 Main Street where workers were picketing. When police stopped the man at the picket line, he sped up and drove forward, forcing one of the officers to hang on to the side of the truck to avoid falling.

The 79-year-old man was arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and various motor vehicle charges. He was arraigned in Woburn District Court on Thursday afternoon.

“We don’t yet know why he did what he did,” said Richter. “It was dangerous. The officers could have been hit. One officer was near the truck and another was on the steps of the truck when he took off. He had to hold onto the side of the truck while it was driven. It was quite dangerous, and luckily no one was hurt.”

Wilmington PD Seeking Suspects in Cemetery Thefts (August 24)

After receiving calls on a regular basis from residents who have allegedly had items taken from their loved ones’ grave sites, police have set up cameras in Wildwood Cemetery on multiple occasions with no luck.

But in this summer's surveillence efforts, officers lucked out with images of two separate incidents of graveyard theft. Police set up the camera on Friday, August 17, and captured thefts over the days that followed. In one of the incidents, multiple parties walked up to the grave site and removed a light that is likely only worth less than $10.

“It’s all the principle of the thing,” said Nally. “Whether it’s something worth $2 or something worth $50, these people are putting things out in memory of a loved one. Regardless of the money it’s a personal attack to everyone it happens to.”

Landers Family Seeks Answers Years After Deadly Fire (September 18)

Forty-three years after a devastating fire that killed six members of the Landers family of Wilmington, the family is seeking answers as they hope to prove the deadly blaze was intentionally set.

On September 26, 1969, the family’s Clark Street home caught fire, killing 37-year-old mother Nancy Landers along with five of her children. Davey, 13, Billy, 12, Kevin, 9, Lisa, 7, and K.C., 4, all perished in the fire that began at about 3 a.m. that morning.

The fire was ruled electrical in nature, a common classification during that time period. However, rumors flew around town in the weeks following the tragedy that a local man bragged to friends that he had started the fire. He was rumored to have been brought in for questioning at the time, but no charges resulted.

“There are questions that we need to find the answers to,” said Janis Jaquith, a 1970 Wilmington High School graduate who married into the Landers family and is looking into the fire. “At the time, the Wilmington Police Department failed the Landers family. There are dots that need to be connected.”

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