ORANGE (CBS) – The elderly couple targeted in a horrific and deadly home invasion last week were chosen because they had an older model car with no GPS tracking, prosecutors said Friday.
Joshua Hart, 23, and Brittany Smith, 27, were ordered held without bail at their arraignments on first-degree murder and several other charges in Orange District Court.
They’re accused of killing 95-year-old Thomas Harty and severely wounding his wife, 77-year-old Joanna Fisher, in the couple’s home in Orange October 5.
All around the courthouse Friday, tensions flared, between family, friends, and angry townspeople.
Investigators said Hart and Smith attacked and robbed complete strangers.
“These folks were minding their own business. They were living their life, they were watching TV that night,” said Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan. “It was a home invasion of such epic proportions, it lasted almost two hours.”
Harty was stabbed and suffocated with a pillow. Fisher was also cut and the two tried, but failed, to suffocate her, authorities said. She was left for dead and Hart and Smith stole the couple’s 2003 Toyota Corolla station wagon and drove off, according to the D.A.
Surveillance at a WalMart in Worcester showed Hart and Smith allegedly used the couple’s stolen credit card just hours later.
They were arrested three days later in Rockbridge, Virginia. They were found in a U-Haul truck that was parked in a WalMart parking lot.
Authorities also revealed the motive for the first time Friday.
“This particular crime is alleged to have occurred because neither Miss Smith nor Mr. Hart wanted to return to jail or drug treatment,” said prosecutor prosecutor Jeremy Bucci.
Hart was afraid that his involvement in a stolen motor vehicle case earlier in the week would result in him being brought back to jail in either Massachusetts or Pennsylvania, Bucci said.
Smith was due to be arraigned in the same stolen motor vehicle case and was also scheduled to report to drug treatment on Thursday, October 6.
“They were looking for an older model vehicle without a tracking device inside of it, so that they could make good on their escape and they hoped that they could recover some money to help them escape,” Bucci said.
“It is, without a doubt, that this crime was senseless,” Sullivan said.
Hart and Smith are due back in court December 20.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports