EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 26, 2011

Man charged in Groveland break-in held on $20,000 bail

By Paul Tennant

GROVELAND — A New Hampshire man who allegedly stole jewelry and $1,200 in cash from a Groveland home to feed his heroin habit was ordered held at Middleton jail in lieu of $20,000 cash bail Tuesday.

Joseph Billcliff, 27, of 7 Kimberly Road, Kingston, N.H., is charged with breaking and entering in the daytime, larceny from a building and larceny over $250. He also faces open cases in the Lawrence and Lowell district courts, according to documents on file in Haverhill District Court.

His brother and codefendant, Andrew Billcliff, 22, was arrested several weeks ago and is also being held at Middleton on high bail, according to Groveland Detective James Morton.

Joseph Billcliff was arrested by Manchester, N.H., police last week and voluntarily turned himself in at the Groveland police station Sunday, Morton said.

Haverhill District Court Judge Stephen Abany scheduled a pretrial hearing for Billcliff on June 23. He is being represented by attorney Maria Murber.

The home of Timothy and Kerriann MacLean was broken into March 17, police said. The items stolen included a brown wooden jewelry box, an engagement ring, several necklaces and diamonds, according to Morton's report.

Morton shared the information with area police departments and got a lead April 6 from Methuen Detective Arthur Hardy. The Methuen officer, involved in an unrelated investigation in his city, stopped Joseph and Andrew Billcliff at 3:15 p.m. that day near the Lawrence line, according to Morton.

The stop was prompted by the Billcliffs' "suspicious" behavior, police said. The brothers admitted they bought a gram of heroin for $80 earlier that day and had several hypodermic needles in the car, Morton wrote.

Hardy, however, found more than possible drug paraphernalia in the car. He also discovered a brown wooden jewelry box, several rings, watches and necklaces, according to Morton's report.

When Hardy asked where these valuables had come from, the Billcliffs claimed it belonged to a girl they knew. When the Methuen detective asked who she was, they couldn't provide a name, Morton wrote.

Hardy confiscated the items and took them to the Methuen police station. It was there that Officer Terry Lavallee, who has charge of maintaining evidence for the Methuen police, discovered an identification card for the MacLeans' daughter, Cayla, in the jewelry box, according to Morton's report.

Methuen police immediately contacted Morton.

The Groveland detective then obtained warrants for the arrest of the Billcliff brothers. He arrested Andrew Billcliff soon afterward, he said.

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