10 years without justice
AUBURN - Ten years ago today, someone entered George Jodoin's bedroom, pointed a gun at him as he slept and pulled the trigger. He was shot in the head and neck, and died instantly.
Robert Jodoin of Hooksett, Jodoin's younger brother, says it was an execution. He believes the case should have been solved soon after his brother's death, and blames young and inexperienced investigators assigned to the case for that not happening.
Jodoin and his family want justice, and are now offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer. It is $30,000 more than what they posted nine years ago, which resulted in various tips, police said, but no arrest.
Police have worked hard to solve the murder in the decade since, as evidenced by three file cabinets filled with photos, videos, documents, reports, polygraph charts and interviews at the N.H. Cold Case Unit in Concord.
Robert Jodoin is more hopeful today than in the past now that the investigation is getting another in-depth look, this time by Detective Robert Freitas of the Cold Case Unit and Auburn police Officer Bill Barry.
'We finally see something getting done,' Jodoin said.
Freitas is retired from the Manchester Police Department, where he was an investigator for about 15 years, while Barry recently retired from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department, where he chased down fugitives. Both now work part time.
► NH Cold Case Unit page on George Jodoin
Barry said Freitas called him and asked if he would help in the investigation, and Auburn Chief Edward Picard gave him the green light.
Jodoin is confident that with two veteran police officers involved in the case, justice will be found for his brother.
But the investigators say there is still a lot of work to be done. Freitas said it is good to have Barry, and his fresh pair of eyes, working on the case and going back over investigative files, which include six volumes of interviews. Investigators still are trying to figure out the motive. Was it hatred, money, revenge - or just a crime of opportunity?
'We don't know,' said Freitas. 'We need somebody to tell us the truth of what went on.'
What they have done, he said, is narrowed the case down to two suspects who he declined to name.
'Somebody out there knows (what happened), and we're hoping the reward will bring that person to us,' Jodoin said.
The life of George Jodoin
George Jodoin, 50, was a complicated man but one who lived each day as if it was his last. He wasn't afraid to try anything, his brother said, and his many nieces and nephews looked up to the man who was a world-class sailor, a pilot, a deep-sea diver, gentleman farmer, dancer, pianist, beekeeper, mineralogist, real estate investor and pawn shop owner.
In his younger days, he traveled across the United States in an old school bus fitted with a small piano and lived for three months in downtown Paris, France, where he took French classes at a prestigious college.
'He would travel all the time,' recalled Robert Jodoin, who joined him on some of his adventures and co-owned a sloop with him.
George, who was 6 foot 3 inches tall, weighed 200 pounds and was in excellent shape, once decided to sail alone to Bermuda during hurricane season, Jodoin said. 'He told me if he didn't reach Bermuda by a certain date to call the U.S. Coast Guard.'
When he was two days late, Robert made the call.
'They found him, but they said him and the boat were badly beaten up but they were all right,' he said with a laugh.
George got his pilot's license at a young age and flew everywhere in his Cessna, taking family and friends along with him. He would put some pontoons on the plane and land on Lake Sebago in Maine where he would scout out real estate deals.
George, Robert, Glenn Baroody, George's partner in the Mr. I Buy and Sell Everything Pawn Shop on Manchester's West Side, and John Murby were a close-knit quartet who would go deep sea diving off Boon Island where a ship carrying munitions sank during the 1940s.
As Robert tells it, the four floated up live munition shells (they didn't know they were live at the time, he said) which they sold at the pawn shop until the ATF shut down the operation.
'We didn't know you weren't allowed to do that,' he said.
George never married, although over the years he had several girlfriends.
'George loved women. It was just that he had such a controlling personality that after a while women didn't like George,' Robert said.
He was particular about his clothing and never bought anything off the rack; everything was custom-made.
'He lived like a millionaire, but he never saved any money,' Robert said.
Where some admired his adventuresome spirit, others saw him as a shady pawn shop owner and real estate investor, sides of him that Robert said were kept from the younger relatives who looked up to him.
In 1994, George fought the city of Manchester over a burned-out triple decker at Union Street and Lake Avenue. He denied he had any connection to the corporation that owned it and refused to demolish it. He was a vocal opponent of the city's certificate of occupancy program, aimed at cleaning up rundown apartment buildings.
And he was a hard-nosed businessman with people who pawned items in his and Baroody's shop on North Main Street.
Robert Jodoin believes the person who killed his brother had some kind of connection to the pawn shop. He said he was not referring to Baroody, who operates it today.
On Dec. 26, 2001, three men - investigators would not say who - were at Jodoin's home. It was the holiday season and two of them, friends of George's, had a few drinks with him.
The third was doing some work for him, according to the investigators.
During the day, neighbors reported hearing shots, and investigators confirmed the men had been target shooting, something that occurred frequently at George's home. He was a member of the National Rifle Association and had many guns inside his home.
About 11 p.m. that night, neighbors reported hearing two to four shots fired in rapid succession and seeing a truck outside in the driveway. Lights were on in the kitchen, which the neighbors thought was strange. Later, when a neighbor looked out the window for a second time, the lights were out and the truck was gone. Another neighbor reported seeing a truck speeding away.
The next morning, Dec. 27, 2001, Baroody stopped over at Jodoin's home. Jodoin was planning another trip, this time to Thailand, and Baroody was going to take care of his many animals. Jodoin was going to show him where the feed was and what needed to be done.
Baroody found the body of his longtime friend in bed inside the 718 Chester Road farmhouse.
Three weeks earlier, Jodoin had changed his will, leaving the farmhouse and its more than 20 acres, the pawn shop and his 1984 Mason 43 sailboat to Baroody. The remainder of his estate went to his brother, Peter Jodoin of Hooksett. The will specified, however, if Baroody sold the house within 15 years of his death, it would revert to the NRA.
At first glance, it appears Baroody had inherited a windfall, but Baroody said all the property was heavily mortgaged.
'To tell you the truth, there was no equity,' he said.
Baroody resides in the farmhouse today, which he renovated because, he said, it was dilapidated, and operates the pawn shop. He knew George, who he described as a fairly educated man, for about 20 years.
He said he is glad the investigation is moving forward.
'I just hope they keep at it,' he said.
Police never found the murder weapon, even though in early 2002 divers searched Lake Massabesic in hopes of finding it.
Barry and Freitas won't say if anything was stolen from the home.
Robert Jodoin is certain of one thing, however: The killer knew his brother because, he reasons, with all the guns George had - some right next to the door - a stranger would never have made it inside.
Freitas believes the $50,000 reward and the passage of time may be just what's needed for that one person to come forward.
'We'll take all the help we can get, ' he said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Cold Case Unit at 223-8710 or Auburn police at 483-2134.