Tow-truck driver held on Granby rape charges

Staff Writer
Published: 4/25/2018 11:57:29 PM

BELCHERTOWN — A 41-year-old tow-truck driver from Ware was ordered held without bail on multiple counts of rape as well as armed robbery and assault charges at his arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court on Wednesday.

Arthur Salsbury, of 48 Old Belchertown Road, was arrested on a warrant Tuesday afternoon, Granby Police Sgt. Gary Poehler said, after a monthslong investigation led police to the suspect.

Four women so far have come forward describing three alleged incidents of rape and one of armed robbery between October 2009 and this March.

“These incidents are still actively being investigated and other charges may be filed in the future,” Granby Police Chief Alan Wishart said in a statement Tuesday.

The investigation was prompted by an alleged rape in Dufresne Park in Granby on Feb 23. Granby Police issued a press release April 4 asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect. Multiple tips led them to the towing company where Salsbury worked.

Two of the alleged victims were shown Salsbury’s photograph and identified him as the assailant. None of the victims knew Salsbury by his real name, but did help investigators identify the tow-truck company, APR Towing, by the logo on the outside of the truck.

In court, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl argued that Salsbury should be held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing, while court-appointed defense attorney David Mintz argued that his client be allowed to continue working or be placed on house arrest.

According to Suhl, Salsbury has a violent criminal record with at least eight convictions for assault between 1990 and 2017. These include assault and battery on a police officer, assault and battery and destruction of property. Previously, his wife had a restraining order against him.

According to court records, Salsbury allegedly raped a woman after threatening her with a knife on Oct. 3, 2009, in an SUV parked on a path off a main road. She had asked him for a ride home from Holyoke and, high on heroin, was unsure where he had taken her before he allegedly kicked her out of the vehicle.

This year, after acquiring DNA from a cigarette Salsbury smoked outside a police station, Massachusetts State Police confirmed through DNA analysis that Salsbury was the perpetrator of the October 2009 rape.

Salsbury faces two counts of rape and one charge of assault and battery for the Feb. 23 incident in which he allegedly raped a woman in Dufresne Park. The victim, a woman he had picked up in Holyoke, eventually fled and escaped through a swamp before asking for help from a neighbor nearby.

On March 14, Salsbury allegedly threatened with a knife and assaulted another woman he had gone on multiple “dates” with, for which he faces two charges of assault and battery and armed robbery. He also allegedly picked up the victim in Holyoke and left her in the Big Y parking lot in South Hadley after demanding his money back and forcing her out of his truck.

Salsbury is also charged with two counts of aggravated rape for allegedly assaulting another woman at Dufresne Park in Granby, March 29.

Between the Feb. 23 and March 29 incidents, the two alleged victims spoke with each other about Salsbury, police said, with the first victim warning the second that he had raped her.

In both incidents the women who said they were assaulted were picked up in neighboring communities and driven to the same location in Granby where they were raped, police said. The women told police the tow-truck driver picked them up in Holyoke and drove them to Granby while he was allegedly smoking cigarettes, drinking whisky and doing cocaine.

An arrest warrant for Salsbury was issued by Eastern Hampshire District Court Tuesday, and Salsbury was arrested the same day by the Granby, Ware and State Police.

In interviews with police, Salsbury allegedly admitted he had a “cocaine problem,” and said he did not remember going to Dufresne Park on those specific evenings, but did admit to occasionally picking up sex workers in Holyoke. A father of three, Salsbury no longer works for the towing company, and works instead for Universal Forest Products in Belchertown. He will appear in court again for a pre-trial hearing on June 19.

“All the agencies involved would like to thank the public for their assistance in helping bring this suspect to justice,” Wishart said in a statement. “As with all alleged crimes, the suspect is still presumed innocent until he is found guilty in court.”

Anyone with additional information about the case is encouraged to call their local police department or the Granby Police at 413-467-9222.

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