Arraignment of murder suspects postponed

Athol man, woman apprehended in Virginia

ORANGE — The two suspects apprehended early Saturday morning in Rockbridge County, Va., in connection with the home invasion in Orange have had their arraignment on charges of being fugitives from justice postponed to Wednesday, according to Northwestern District Attorney spokesperson Mary Carey. 

Joshua A. Hart, a 23-year-old white male from Athol, and Brittany E. Smith, a 27-year-old white female from Athol, are wanted in connection to the killing of Thomas Harty, 95, and the attempted murder of his wife, Joanna Fisher, 77, both of 581 East River St., Orange, in a home invasion in the overnight hours of Wednesday, Oct. 5, to Thursday, Oct. 6.

According to information from the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Department, Massachusetts investigators very quickly developed information on two possible suspects;  their information also indicated that the two suspects may be located in Virginia.

Late Friday night, Oct. 7, investigators developed more information that indicated the two suspects were possibly located in Rockbridge County and contacted the Rockbridge Regional Emergency Communications Center. Rockbridge County Deputies began to saturate areas where the two could possibly be located and continued their efforts throughout the night. Early Saturday morning, Oct. 8, Sergeant Scottie Sorrells located the two suspects in a rented U-Haul truck that was parked at the Rockbridge County Wal-Mart and took them into custody for being fugitives from justice on outstanding vehicle larceny warrants out of Massachusetts. 

The vehicle reported as stolen from the Harty/Fisher home the day of the attack was recovered in Virginia.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s office says Hart and Smith are being held without bail pending arraignment in Virginia on fugitive-from-justice charges. They were set to be arraigned today, but because there is no judge available, the arraignments were postponed to Wednesday. There is no information as to whether or not this will also postpone their delivery back into Mass. State Police custody. 

Hart and Smith are facing murder, attempted murder and other charges in Massachusetts. Authorities have not disclosed a motive.

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Athol Daily News

PO Box 1000
225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
Phone: (978) 249-3535


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