Police: Bradford stabbing started as drug deal

TIM JEAN/Staff photoHaley Thomas, left, 22, of North Andover and Carson Hamilton, 23, of Haverhill stand in the prisoner's area of Haverhill District Court, monitored by a court officer behind them, during their arraignment Thursday.

HAVERHILL — Police said the stabbing that happened late Wednesday morning in a Bradford neighborhood was the result of a drug deal that turned into an attempted robbery.

It is a story that, according to police reports, has different versions told by the people involved. But the bottom line is a man suffered serious stab wounds and two people were arrested and are being held without bail after appearing in court Thursday.

Carson Hamilton, 23, of Haverhill and Haley Thomas, 22, of North Andover were arraigned in Haverhill District Court on charges of armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a knife) and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot) in connection to the stabbing. Police said the stabbing happened near the intersection of South Main and South Pleasant streets, at the edge of Bradford’s Central Square.

Deputy Chief Stephen Doherty said police received a 911 call at 11:18 a.m. Wednesday reporting the stabbing.

Residents and business people in the neighborhood were shocked as they watched police officers, firefighters and ambulance workers rush into the area to help the victim, identified in a police report on file at the court as 24-year-old Tyler King of Haverhill.

According to the police report, King suffered non-life threatening stab wounds to his left buttock and thigh, and was transported to Lawrence General Hospital.

Police reports say King told investigators that in the days leading up to the stabbing, he had been texting a man known as "LOC Hamilton," whom King said he'd never met and knew only through a Facebook profile. The police report said King told investigators he arranged to meet the man at the McDonald's restaurant parking lot off South Pleasant Street in Bradford late Wednesday morning to buy marijuana, and "nothing stronger."

Stabbing victim's story

A police report said King told investigators this account of what happened:

King and his fiancee walked to South Pleasant Street for the meeting. There King was told by the man he knew from Facebook, who turned out to be Carson Hamilton, to get into the back seat of a car being driven by Thomas. King and his fiance got in and the man demanded King hand over his wallet.

King said a fight began between the men, and Hamilton grabbed King's wallet. At one point, the men were outside the car fighting. Hamilton jumped back in the vehicle and King followed, trying to get his wallet back.

King said as they fought he poked his thumb into Hamilton's eye and Hamilton threw the wallet out the car window. King said as he tried to get out of the car, Thomas stabbed him in the buttock and back of his leg. King said Hamilton then pushed him out of the car. With King's fiancee also outside the car, the vehicle left the scene, heading west on South Pleasant Street toward Chadwick Street. After King picked up his wallet, his fiancee told him his leg was bleeding.

The report said King sat on the ground, screaming for help, and removed some of his clothing to apply a makeshift tourniquet to his leg. A witness said he saw King sitting on the sidewalk where the McDonald's parking lot meets South Pleasant Street, and that two people were with King before a female police officer arrived. 

Officer Nicole Donnelly, who had been nearby in front of the Bradford Post Office in Central Square, was the first officer to arrive on the stabbing scene, the police report said. 

Donnelly said in her report that King was sitting on the ground with his pants ripped off and was covered in blood. Standing next to King was his fiancee and a witness who lives near the site of the assault.

Police: Victim's fiancee tells different story

Police said they determined King lied about the reason for the meeting. Police said Hamilton and Thomas met King and his fiancee with the intent of buying fentanyl from King, and then Hamilton and King got into the altercation.

The police report said King's fiancee told investigators that she and King went to South Pleasant Street to sell fentanyl to Hamilton, but in reality it was niacin mixed with baby formula — a substance made to look like fentanyl. She told investigators there was no actual fentanyl involved, according to the police report.

Police said their investigation determined that the story given by King's fiancee was the truth — that Hamilton and Thomas arranged the meeting to buy fentanyl from King. Hamilton tried to take what he believed was fentanyl from King and also take King's wallet, and when King fought back Thomas stabbed him, police said.

Police said that shortly after they received the 911 call reporting the stabbing, an officer was sent to a home on Tremont Street, which is more than a mile from South Pleasant Street where the stabbing happened. Tremont Street is in the Mount Washington neighborhood on the Haverhill side of the Merrimack River, opposite the Bradford side where the stabbing happened.

The officer wrote in his report that a man sitting in his car who witnessed part of the altercation between King and Hamilton followed Thomas' car from South Pleasant Street, the area of the stabbing, to Tremont Street and then called police.

The officer's report said he and two other officers went to a home on Tremont Street and were let in by Thomas, and that they found Hamilton there as well. Police said Hamilton was covered in dried blood and showed signs of trauma to his eyes. Police arrested Hamilton and Thomas.

Police said Thomas had been in contact with a friend the morning of the stabbing. The friend, who lives in the Tremont Street home, told investigators that Hamilton and Thomas came to her home asking for help, according to police.

Police said another witness called them to say she was driving over the river from Bradford to Haverhill on the Comeau Bridge and was stopped behind Thomas' car. The witness told police she saw a man in the back seat toss something out the passenger side of the car and that the object bounced off the bridge's steel railing, landing on the sidewalk. The witness said she got a closer look at the object and determined it was a folding knife, according to police. 

Police said they searched the area but could not find a knife.

Hearing details criminal records

During Thursday's court hearing, Assistant District Attorney Stephen LaMonica said Hamilton had been sentenced last August to 2 1/2 years in jail on another case and that he was recently paroled. LaMonica said there was a parole warrant in effect for Hamilton.

"It appears they will be seeking to impose the balance of his (jail) sentence at this point," LaMonica said.

A probation official told the court that Thomas has been on probation since March 7, 2019, after being charged with assault and battery and assault with a dangerous weapon. The official said that in December, Thomas violated her probation and the court imposed a six-month jail sentence.

The official asked that Thomas be held without bail on this latest probation violation, the arrest related to the stabbing.

Judge Cesar Archilla ordered Hamilton and Thomas held for a dangerousness hearing scheduled for May 27. At that hearing, it will be determined whether they should continue to be held as dangers to society or be released on bail. The judge also ordered Hamilton and Thomas to have no contact with the stabbing victim or any witnesses in the case.

The judge entered pleas of not guilty on behalf of Hamilton and Thomas. Thomas was represented by local attorney Daniel Hutchinson and Hamilton was represented by attorney Maria Murber.

Trending Video

Recommended for you