Police report details grisly crime scene in Greenfield

Police search for a cabin in the woods behind Cliffside Apartments in Sunderland, believed to be tied to a homicide on Chapman Street in Greenfield.

Police search for a cabin in the woods behind Cliffside Apartments in Sunderland, believed to be tied to a homicide on Chapman Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

 Greenfield Police Special Operations unit flies a drone over a wooded area in Sunderland in search of a possible cabin believed to belong to Greenfield murder suspect Taaniel Herberger-Brown.

Greenfield Police Special Operations unit flies a drone over a wooded area in Sunderland in search of a possible cabin believed to belong to Greenfield murder suspect Taaniel Herberger-Brown. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-25-2024 5:22 PM

Modified: 04-25-2024 11:04 PM


SUNDERLAND — Police located a cabin in the woods around Clark Mountain Road Thursday afternoon believed to belong to Taaniel Herberger-Brown, the suspect accused of murdering a man at 92 Chapman St. and storing his body in a plastic barrel for an extended amount of time.

Greenfield Police Chief Todd Dodge said Herberger-Brown signed his name on the cabin’s interior wall and police found what they believed to be the owner’s manual to his motor vehicle.

“Thankfully, the cabin was empty with no signs of any additional activity,” Dodge said.

Police swarmed the woods on Wednesday night and Thursday morning after they were alerted that Herberger-Brown might have a cabin in the area.

Dodge said the search uncovered what police believe to be military discharge paperwork on a nature trail with Herberger-Brown’s name on it. Because the suspect was arrested Tuesday, he said, residents in that area are not in any danger.

The Albany (N.Y.) County Sheriff’s Office arrested Herberger-Brown, 42, of Greenfield, on a murder charge Tuesday night at Albany International Airport after Greenfield police found dismembered human remains inside his recently vacated apartment on Chapman Street. Authorities have not publicly identified the victim.

“The individual in custody made statements during booking in [New York] that led us to believe he may have a cabin in that area,” Dodge said during the search Wednesday night.

As part of the search, officers launched an aerial drone from a Greenfield Police Special Operations truck as a search crew rode into the woods on all-terrain vehicles. Greenfield and Sunderland police and Massachusetts State Police scoured the wooded area behind Cliffside Apartments.

Remains discovered

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Herberger-Brown’s landlord reportedly called Greenfield Police Monday afternoon reporting a foul odor in Herberger-Brown’s former apartment. After entering the vacated room, the landlord noticed an object sticking out of a plastic bag in a large trash barrel and reported a “bad odor and possible blood leaking from the trash barrel,” according to a report by Massachusetts State Trooper Blakeley Pottinger.

When Greenfield Police Officer Brent Griffin arrived at the apartment, he reported smelling “a strong foul odor that he believed, from his training and experience, was consistent with a decomposing human body.” Griffin also reported seeing trash and furniture scattered across the apartment, according to the police report.

“Officer Griffin indicated that the body appeared to be wrapped in a plastic bag and placed in the trash barrel, consistent with an attempt to conceal and dispose of the body,” the report states. “He realized the blood and flesh had been decomposing for an extended amount of time.”

Griffin called for backup from the State Police Detective Unit, the report states. Multiple items were seized from the apartment, including knives, a hatchet and a laptop.

At 1 a.m. Tuesday, investigators received information that Herberger-Brown was at Albany International Airport.

According to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Herberger-Brown was arrested at the “observation deck,” or the airport’s non-secure third-story deck, after sheriff’s deputies discovered his car in the parking lot. Greenfield Police and Massachusetts State Police later met Herberger-Brown in Albany and interrogated him.

“He didn’t even have an airline ticket or anything,” Apple said.

“He was literally up in the observation deck probably trying to figure out what his next move was.”

Herberger-Brown reportedly told investigators he planned to visit his mother outside of the country, and suggested several different locations he might travel to, including Vancouver, Germany, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The police report states that he initially told authorities he had been in and out of hospitals and hadn’t been back at his apartment in months, but he later told investigators he got into a physical fight with someone who had broken into his home. He was unclear about when the altercation occurred.

He reportedly told police he believed the person was using drugs and that the victim’s “heart stopped” after the altercation, the police report states.

“After the altercation, Herberger-Brown told investigators that he left the apartment to obtain a tire rotation on his vehicle,” the report states.

Wednesday morning, biohazard cleanup trucks lined the driveway behind 92 Chapman St. as State Police entered the apartment, taking photos of its interior. Herberger-Brown’s neighbors in the community known as Chapman Court watched as police entered and exited.

Kayleigh Miller, who lives next door, described Herberger-Brown as a “super nice and super polite guy” who would often lend a hand around the community, babysitting for some of his other neighbors.

Herberger-Brown is currently in custody at the Albany County Correctional Facility. According to Laurie Loisel, a spokesperson for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, it is unclear when he will be extradited back to Massachusetts to face charges.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.