Paradise death a targeted killing: RNC

Victim Robert Pitcher had lengthy criminal record

Published on July 30, 2014
Rovers Search and Rescue personnel examine the ground Tuesday morning in the area where the body of 31-year-old Robert Pitcher was found Monday in Paradise. The death is being treated as suspicious. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

The discovery of a man’s body in Paradise earlier this week is now being treated as a possible homicide.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary confirmed Tuesday that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner considers the death of Robert James Pitcher — a 31-year-old from Paradise with a history of getting in trouble with the law — to be suspicious.

According to Const. Steve Curnew, the RNC suspects it was a targeted killing.

“We do not believe there is any public safety concerns at this time,” he said while speaking with rep-orters near an empty building lot on Seascape Drive, where police and other personnel spent the day searching for clues.

The police did not specifically say Pitcher’s criminal history influenced their suspicion the act of killing him was targeted and not random.

Pitcher’s troubles with the law have included cases that received considerable media attention.

His criminal record is lengthy and includes multiple convictions for break and enter and breach of probation.

Last fall, he was sentenced to 45 days in jail after failing to comply with his curfew while staying at a residential centre for offenders.

During his sentencing hearing on that matter, defence lawyer Stephen Orr told the court Pitcher had undergone counselling for drug addiction and was trying to find work as a welder.

How exactly Pitcher died has not been determined. Const. Steve Curnew said that will not be known until the full coroner’s report is available. The RNC expects it will have that report by Thursday.

“The operation is still very early into its investigation,” said Curnew. “We’re certainly pleading to the public that if anyone has any information, no matter how insignificant they may feel it is, they can certainly contact the RNC.”

Officers were knocking on doors Monday to speak with residents about the discovery of the body. One woman The Telegram spoke with Tuesday said her family was away all weekend and she was very surprised to return home and find police constables asking about their recent whereabouts.

Having only lived in the residential subdivision for two months, she said the Seascape Drive is a quiet neighbourhood with lots of families. However, the woman said she might think twice about walking in the neighbourhood at night in light of recent events.

Another woman living in the same neighbourhood learned about the discovery of Pitcher’s body after receiving a text from her brother. She can see the crime scene from her living room window and has walked in that area often since moving into her new home a few months ago.

She said news of a dead body being found on Seascape Drive is unsettling for her and makes her feel a little bit insecure about the neighbourhood.

RNC officers were joined by members of the Rovers Search and Rescue team Tuesday at the crime scene. They helped searched for clues in the gravelly area where the body was found. A metal detector was used as part of that search.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew