UPDATED: Burning body found in Hatfield farm fields

  • Looking east toward the Connecticut River on Bridge Lane in Hatfield. Taken on Sunday, March 11, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

For the Recorder
Published: 3/11/2018 8:10:01 PM

HATFIELD — The small farm town of Hatfield faced another grim event this weekend after a body was found burning in a field on Saturday night.

Less than two weeks earlier, the remains of Joanne “Jo” Ringer were found in a wooded area in Hatfield, a year after the Clarksburg woman had been reported missing.

Hatfield Police Chief Mike Dekoschak said a call came in around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, reporting a fire off Bridge Lane. The street turns into a dirt road leading up to the dike bordering the Connecticut River.

When officers arrived, they found a human body on fire, Mary Carey of the Northwestern district attorney’s office said.

The medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death, Dekoschak said.

The Hatfield Fire Department, State Police detectives unit and state fire marshal’s office responded to the call. Dekoschak said crews were on scene until early Sunday morning.

A South Street resident told the Gazette on Sunday that she was woken up Saturday night by a low-flying helicopter with a spotlight at around 11 p.m. She looked out and saw about a dozen vehicles on Bridge Lane.

Carey said the incident is under investigation by the State Police detectives unit, which is attached to the district attorney’s office, with assistance from the fire marshal’s office and Hatfield Police Department.

The discovery of the burning body and, earlier, Ringer’s remains in such a small town, with a population of roughly 3,300, is significant.

The Police Department has three full-time officers and 10 part-time officers. With the recent events, Dekoschak said, officers have been tired.

At the town’s 25-person fire department, including 23 on-call firefighters and EMTs, Fire Chief Stephen Gaughan said he could not speak specifically about Saturday’s incident. He noted, though, that the majority of the calls to the fire department are for medical emergencies that typically only need two responders.

More labor-intensive incidents — like a fire — require more people to respond to the scene. That sort of an event, and, particularly daytime calls, can be difficult because the department depends heavily on its on-call staff, and many on-call firefighters are at work during the day.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.


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