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Suspect lived at two homicide homes in 4 months

By Mike Donoghue,

BURLINGTON – A wanted federal suspect, who authorities say was living at residences in residences in Newport Town and Troy when two drug-related homicides were reported in four months, was ordered jailed on Monday.

Holly Fields Jr., 55, pleaded not guilty in federal court to a charge of operating a drug house in Troy with his daughter, Bryanna Fields Rooney, 29, and her husband Thomas P. Rooney, 34, both of Troy, between early December 2023 and Feb. 7.

The trio is charged that as owners of a home at 7021 Vermont 100 they allowed the residence to be used for the unlawful manufacturing, storing, distributing and using of both cocaine and fentanyl, a federal indictment said.

During his arraignment Monday afternoon, Fields also denied a charge of knowingly and intentionally conspiring with others both in Vermont and elsewhere to distribute cocaine and fentanyl and to possess both drugs with intent to distribute them since at least early December 2023 and through Feb. 7.

The drug charges stem from an investigation that included the fatal shooting of a woman found in the Missisquoi River in Troy in February.

The investigation continues into the death of Kayla Wright, 29, of Derby, who was shot multiple times, including at least once in the head, authorities said. No criminal charges concerning the fatal shooting have been filed in federal or state court.

Fields was among those living at the Troy home in February when Wright disappeared and was later found dead.

Court records show Fields also was living earlier at a residence on Farrar Road in Newport Town when Wilmer Rogriguez, 27, of Hartford, Conn. was found fatally shot in October.

The home also appeared to be used “as a place to store, prepare, distribute and use drugs,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Lasher said in court papers.

“Drug-related homicides occurred at both residences when the defendant was living there – first in October 2023 and then in February 2024,” Lasher wrote in asking for detention of Fields.

Rogriguez died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to Vermont’s Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.

The shooting was reported inside the home about 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2023 and no arrests have been made.

The Vermont State Police, the Vermont Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Orleans County Sheriff’s Department have all been working the case.

The residence was processed by the Vermont Crime Scene Search Team.

Investigators believe the Newport shooting was targeted and an isolated event.

Fields has been on the run since at least early February when federal, state, county and local authorities conducted a court-ordered raid on the Troy residence and three of five wanted people were arrested, records show.

The Vermont Drug Task Force received a tip that the fugitive might be at a home in Irasburg on Saturday. State Police Sgt. Daniel Lynch went to the residence and located Fields. He was lodged at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans Town.

Federal Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle, during the arraignment on Monday, ordered Fields jailed pending further hearings.

Lasher, in his written motion, noted Fields does not have a permanent residence and is not employed.

Fields also has convictions for 5 felonies and 22 misdemeanors in Vermont among his 22 arrests, Lasher said.

Lasher said Fields “appears to have a robust criminal history in Florida with at least six arrests between 1986 – when he was arrested as an out-of-state fugitive by the Daytona Beach Police Department – and 2020.”

His Florida convictions include various fraud and larceny offenses in Pasco County, Fla., Lasher wrote.

Veteran defense lawyer Kevin Henry did not object to the request, but said he might return to court with a plan to have Fields released.

Henry asked for 60 days to review the evidence in the case and to consider pre-trial motions.

Doyle set a June 21 deadline.

Another defendant arrested earlier with the Rooneys, Jakiy Tramaine-Corey Keith, 24, of Troy has denied four felony charges during his arraignment.

Authorities are continuing to seek one other unidentified defendant in the Troy-based case.

Wright was part of a well-known local family, which included a twin sister. Wright was last heard from by her family early on Feb. 2, state police said. Troopers said they found her cellphone at the Rooney residence on Feb. 3.

The government also is asking for the five defendants to forfeit all drug proceeds, including $11,458 seized as part of the investigation.

Vermont State Police said it received a call about 1 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 6 from a member of the public who reported having discovered a possible human body inside a large toolbox on a sand bar in the Missisquoi River. It was in the area of Big Falls of Missisquoi State Park on River Road, police said.

The investigation into the suspicious death continued through the night as police conducted interviews with people who might have critical information.


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