Another suspect has been identified in the drug investigation of homicide victim Michael Pimental’s girlfriend and federal prosecutors say it’s related to the murder.
Pimental, 37, was found dead off Victory Road in Concord on Oct. 14. He had been shot multiple times and the state medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide.
Pimental’s girlfriend, Krystal Whitcomb, 27, and her father Shawn Whitcomb, 51, were then arrested on federal drug and gun charges following an investigation by the Vermont Drug Task Force targeting them and Pimental.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charges and remain in pre-trial federal detention.
Krystal Whitcomb was indicted by a grand jury last month for the illegal purchase of gun ammunition at the Littleton Walmart store and transporting that ammunition back across state lines with an unidentified co-defendant.
According to federal court documents unsealed on Tuesday, that co-defendant is Michael Anthony “Mo” Hayes, 36, of Lyndonville, who is now facing a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States by conspiring to unlawfully possess ammunition.
“As part of the conspiracy, on or about October 2018, the defendants traveled to Walmart in Littleton, N.H. purchased ammunition at Walmart, and transported the ammunition to Vermont,” reads count three of a second superseding indictment filed on Nov. 8 against the Whitcombs and Hayes in United States District Court in Burlington.
Redaction & Arrest
The government alleges that Hayes was prohibited from possessing a firearm because he had been previously convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison and that his criminal record includes a 2009 conviction in Connecticut of not having a permit for a pistol resulting in a sentence of 57 months in prison.
The court had redacted Hayes’ identity from the indictment at the government’s request because Hayes’ was not in custody at the time.
“Sealing these documents as they pertain to Michael Hayes, a.k.a. “Mo” will protect the safety of the arresting officers and ensure the defendant does not flee,” wrote Nolan in her motion to partially seal the indictment on Nov. 8.
Hayes was arrested Monday.
According to the Vermont Department of Corrections he is being held as a federal detainee at Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton. He’s been assigned a lawyer by the court and federal prosecutors have filed a motion for continued detention.
No one has been charged in connection with Pimental’s death.
But both Krystal Whitcomb and Shawn Whitcomb were questioned by state police as part of the homicide investigation and prosecutors say the Whitcombs remain “persons of interest” in the case.
In addition, United State’s Attorney Christina E. Nolan has connected the federal charge against Whitcomb and Hayes to the ongoing state homicide investigation being conducted by the Vermont State Police.
“The possession of ammunition charge against Hayes is a serious charge on its own,” wrote Nolan in her motion for detention filed against Hayes on Tuesday. “It also relates to the ongoing homicide investigation into the death of Michael Pimental.”
Federal authorities have alleged that Krystal Whitcomb purchased four boxes of ammunition from the Littleton Walmart just prior to Pimental’s murder including two boxes of 9mm Luger bullets and that while the murder weapon has not been found the fatal shots were fired from a 9mm Luger.
It’s not the first time Hayes’ name has popped-up around the Pimental homicide investigation.
New Hampshire authorities say Hayes was found driving Pimental’s Cadillac Escalade in Grafton County with Krystal Whitcomb in the passenger seat on the same day Pimental’s body was found.
Hayes was then arrested by the Grafton County Sheriffs’s Department for disobeying a police officer because he did not pull over right away after failing to use a turn signal on Routes 116 and 112, said police.
Hayes was processed, bailed, and released.
Krystal Whitcomb was found to be in possession of three handguns as well as 2,000 bags of heroin and $20,000 in cash, said Federal authorities. She was later taken into custody on federal drug charges. Federal prosecutors also said blood evidence from Michael Pimental was found in the back of the Cadillac and that Krystal Whitcomb told police that Pimental had been abusing her and that he had been shot to death in their Waterford home after she had gone to her father seeking help.
Caught On Video
The government has already moved to detain Hayes on the ammunition charge.
“Defendant Hayes is a convicted felon and, in addition, has a pending felony charge in New Hampshire state court from June 2018 for unlawful possession of a firearm,” wrote Nolan in her motion for detention filed on Tuesday.
Nolan also argued that weight of the evidence against Hayes is strong.
“Law enforcement obtained store video from the Walmart in Littleton, New Hampshire,” wrote Nolan. “This video shows Hayes and Krystal Whitcomb purchasing ammunition. Hayes provides Krystal Whitcomb with money, which Whitcomb then used to purchase the ammunition. During the video-recorded purchase, Hayes also gives Krystal Whitcomb a gun holster, which Krystal Whitcomb purchased along with the ammunition.”
Beer & Bullets
Federal prosecutors also argue that Hayes has the “history and characteristics” that weigh strongly in favor of detention including a June 12 arrested in Plainfield, New Hampshire which resulted in Hayes being charged with being a felon-in-possession of a dangerous weapon.
“During that incident, Plainfield police pulled over a vehicle for speeding,” wrote Nolan in her report. “A woman was driving, another woman was in the front passenger seat and Hayes was in the back seat. The officer observed open Budweiser beer containers near Hayes’ feet. Hayes verbally identified himself by name to police but initially provided an incorrect year of birth…Next to where Hayes had been sitting, an officer found a Budweiser beer thirty pack box with the top open. Inside the box were two handguns, a Taurus 9mm with a loaded magazine and a Hi-Standard Dura Matic .22 caliber with a loaded magazine and one bullet in the chamber. Also in the Budweiser box was a black digital scale with a white powdery substance on it. Hayes also has about $3,000 in his pants pocket.”
Federal authorities say that when he was arrested on Monday Hayes was in possession of a vial of cocaine and about $700 in U.S. currency.