BARNSTABLE (CBS) – The attorney for a man accused of breaking into multiple homes while residents attended funerals and wakes says the so-called “Obit Bandit’s” drug habit is to blame.
Randy Brunelle, 35, of Plymouth, was arraigned on Monday in Barnstable District Court on charges of breaking and entering at night with intent to commit a felony, and two counts of felony breaking and entering and larceny from a building.
Brunelle has a history of using obituaries to find empty homes, according to police. In 2012, he was arrested after breaking into the home of a Sandwich police officer’s mother while the officer was attending her funeral.
A fingerprint was used to connect Brunelle with the crime and he was sentenced to 18 months at the Plymouth House of Correction.
Barnstable Police explained that a number of officers were used to catch Brunelle in the act again.
On Friday night, police followed Brunelle’s vehicle while other detectives went to possible homes of residents who were attending funeral services in the Barnstable area. A break-in was discovered in Cotuit, and Brunelle was pulled over as he drove home.
Officers found jewelry in Brunelle’s sweatshirt pockets and he was arrested. The Cotuit resident returned from her mother’s wake and positively identified the jewelry.
Brunelle was also charged in connection with two separate house breaks from September and December in Osterville. At the time of those, the widows were attending the funeral services for their late husbands.
Defense attorney Diane Mulligan said Brunelle’s actions were the result of a heroin addiction.
“Each time it just resulted in this downward spiral where things got out of control for him,” Mulligan said.