Authorities ID victim in Greenfield slaying

A Greenfield police cruiser parks Tuesday behind 92 Chapman St. in Greenfield, where the body of Christopher Hairston, 35, was discovered.

A Greenfield police cruiser parks Tuesday behind 92 Chapman St. in Greenfield, where the body of Christopher Hairston, 35, was discovered. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Massachusetts State Police detectives enter an apartment at 92 Chapman St. in Greenfield, the former home of murder suspect Taaniel Herberger-Brown, as a biohazard crew investigates the scene.

Massachusetts State Police detectives enter an apartment at 92 Chapman St. in Greenfield, the former home of murder suspect Taaniel Herberger-Brown, as a biohazard crew investigates the scene. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

TAANIEL HERBERGER-BROWN

TAANIEL HERBERGER-BROWN Albany County Sheriff’s Office

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-26-2024 12:42 PM

Modified: 04-26-2024 6:36 PM


GREENFIELD — The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office has identified Christopher Hairston, 35, last known to reside in Pittsfield, as the victim found dismembered in a barrel in a Chapman Street apartment on Monday evening.

Suspect Taaniel Herberger-Brown, 42, was arrested at Albany International Airport on Tuesday on a murder charge after reports of a foul odor brought Greenfield police to his former apartment at 92 Chapman St.

Investigators discovered a hand and part of a human torso inside of a barrel in the apartment, according to a report written by Massachusetts State Police Trooper Blakeley Pottinger. Police also located a black hatchet to the left of the barrel.

After pinging Herberger-Brown’s cellphone, Greenfield police and Massachusetts State Police detectives contacted the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, where law enforcement arrested Herberger-Brown.

While being investigated by Greenfield and State Police, Herberger-Brown allegedly told investigators that a man, who he believed to be on drugs, had broken into his apartment and engaged in a physical altercation with him. Toward the end of the altercation, Herberger-Brown told police that the victim’s “heart stopped.”

It is unclear when Herberger-Brown will be returned to Massachusetts for arraignment on the murder charge, according to the DA’s office. The victim’s official cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

In the 25 years since Herberger-Brown graduated from Northampton High School in 1999, the four-year honor roll student and U.S. Navy veteran has had several brushes with the law.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported in 2004 that Herberger-Brown graduated from the Basic Enlisted Submarine Course at the Naval Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut, after he joined the Navy in 2003.

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In February 2008, he was arrested on kidnapping and assault charges in Northampton for allegedly “keeping his girlfriend against her will in a hotel bathroom while holding a broken ceramic dish to her neck,” according to a Gazette report. The article reported that during the incident, Herberger-Brown allegedly reminded his girlfriend of his military service, stating that he was a Navy Seal and a “trained killer.”

Herberger-Brown faced assault and battery charges in 2018 when he lived on Amherst Road in Sunderland, and disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace charges for a separate alleged incident in 2019 when his address was listed as the streets of Amherst. He also faced misdemeanor breaking and entering charges in 2020, when he was ordered to take medication and continue his mental health treatment as terms of his probation.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at 413-930-4429.