The man believed to be Jack the Snipper — the burglar who broke into the rooms of University of New Hampshire women and cut off their nighties as they slept — will likely be freed from prison in April.
Jeffrey Gelinas, 36, appeared before the Adult Parole Board on Thursday and was granted parole, setting him up for 9-month mandatory parole release on April 30, said John Eckert, parole board executive director.
In 2003 and 2004, Durham police had zeroed in on Gelinas as their sole suspect in eight Jack the Snipper burglaries. Gelinas was arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to a single charge of attempted burglary.
“The reality of it was this was a series of acts that, I wouldn’t want to say paralyzed the community, but was incredibly unsettling for the community,” said Durham police Chief David L. Kurz.
The case drew national media attention. At one point, Durham police consulted with a psychologist, who feared the crimes could progress into violence, Kurz said.
The Snipper never targeted university-owned housing, the chief said. He accessed off-campus apartments by walking down common hallways and checking doors. He never broke a lock or window; he merely walked into unlocked apartments, Kurz said.
“There were some really traumatized victims. Trauma and fear were really permeating the community,” Kurz said.
Durham police issued a release yesterday to notify other communities about Gelinas. Under the terms of the parole, he cannot live in Strafford or Rockingham counties.
Gelinas was arrested in August 2004. He pleaded guilty to the felony charge and was sentenced to 1 1/2 to eight years in New Hampshire State Prison.
He could have earned parole more than five years ago but did not complete sex-offender treatment, said Corrections Department spokesman Jeff Lyons.
The April 30 release is called for under the parole reform law, which establishes a 9-month parole before an inmate reaches the end of a maximum sentence.
“The (parole) board decided we’d rather have this guy out with some programs and supervision so we could monitor him,” Eckert said. He said the biggest challenge will be to find a home for Gelinas.
It’s likely he will be released to a half-way house in Manchester or Concord, Eckert said.
Kurz said Gelinas was married and had a child when arrested in August 2004.
According to media accounts at the time, he was arrested trying to break into an apartment on Young Drive.
He told police then that he had a stressful day at his workplace, the Bedford Walmart. He also told police that when he stresses he starts to wander, losses track of time and looks into windows.
He had told police he had missed his most recent therapy appointment.