N.H. Cold Case Unit Seals First Conviction With Guilty Plea
Arthur Collins of Manchester was sentenced to 30-years-to-life in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder Wednesday at the Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood.
The 46-year-old handyman told the judge that he fatally shot George Jodoin 14 years ago while Jodoin was sleeping in bed at home in Auburn.
More than two dozen family members and friends were there on Jodoin’s behalf, including his brother Bob Jodoin, who was among four people who spoke prior to the sentencing.
“George was our big brother, to our family and friends we all looked up to him. George enjoyed life maybe more than he should have, he did it with style. He was a warrior at heart…He should have died with a sword in his hand not a bullet in his head,” he said battling off tears.
Those who spoke described the 50-year-old as a loving, vivacious family man who was a pianist, a pilot, a sailor and a beekeeper. And all said they will never forgive Collins for what he did.
“I hope you die in jail,” said Jodoin's other brother, Peter, who shouted that right before Collins was taken out of the courtroom.
When the state’s Cold Case Unit opened in 2009 it took up roughly one hundred unsolved homicides – Jodoin’s case among them. This case is the unit’s first conviction.
Jeff Strelzin, the lead prosecutor on the case, said after reopening Jodoin's case in 2011, the first thing investigators did was return to the question of who was at Jodoin’s house the day of his murder.
"How could you walk around like nothing happened? Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, go to work, you spent time with your family and friends while you took ours away," said Melanie Godbout, Jodoin's niece.
That list included Collins, a frequent customer at Jodoin’s pawn shop, Jodoin’s business partner and Jodoin’s friend, Ricky Carron. All were suspects throughout the investigation.
“We really narrowed it down to, ‘Who do we think were the last people that saw him alive?’ Obviously there could have been a fourth killer, an unknown killer, but that is rare in New Hampshire. Fortunately or unfortunately, most people are killed by people they know,” said Strelzin after the hearing.
What investigators found is that Collins’ once strong alibi -- that after a few drinks he left Jodoin’s house hours before the shooting took place – did not hold up. And after a lie detector test suggested that he was lying, Collins eventually admitted to the crime.
But before this admission, Jodoin’s family and friends continued to be interrogated. Among them was Jodoin’s good friend Ricky Carron, who said the stress of being labeled a suspect led to his divorce from his wife.
“There was a lot of doubt out there towards me. Rumor mill hits without any control, my ex-wife, her mother, packed it up, moved to Holden, Maine fearing for her life. All those days my kids suffered,” he said while in court.
Something similar took a toll on Jodoin’s family members, who say they were emotionally and physically consumed by the investigation.
“We were treated like criminals, and all along you were the criminal, moving around freely or more than ten years," said Melanie Godbout, Jodoin's niece. "How could you walk around like nothing happened? Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, go to work, you spent time with your family and friends while you took ours away.”
Why Collins shot Jodoin that night is still unknown. But prosecutors say they believe it was because Collins was looking for money.