K-9 unit helps police crack very cold case

It probably seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department sai

It probably seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department said an assault suspect was hospitalized for hypothermia late Monday after he climbed a tree and hid in an attempt to evade capture by police.

Paul E. Henderson, 33, spent about three hours in a tree wearing little more than jeans and a sweat shirt in temperatures that dipped below 20 degrees before he was sniffed out by a police dog, authorities said.

The incident started shortly before 8 p.m. when sheriff’s deputies answered a call reporting an assault at 414 Indian Trail Road. Deputies took down a report and searched the property for Henderson, identified as the culprit by the victim who didn’t require medical attention, police said. Deputies returned later after the victim called again and said Henderson was breaking into the home.

Deputies and state troopers returned with a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit, which ultimately found Henderson hiding about 25 feet up in a Hemlock tree in woods surrounding the home.

Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeffery T. Smith said the dog had gone inside and outside the home several times before leading officers into a section of the wooded area about a half-mile from the home.

When deputies and troopers found Henderson, Smith said, he was lethargic, intoxicated and unable to climb down from the tree. So, officers called the Minden and Fort Plain fire departments.

Firefighters used ladders and a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach Henderson, Smith said.

Smith said Henderson lacked any cold weather gear, such as a jacket or gloves.

“It’s my understanding [Henderson] was out there about three hours,” Smith said.

Mid-County Ambulance took Henderson to St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam for treatment, according to deputies.

Henderson was arraigned in Minden Town Court and sent to the Montgomery County jail in lieu of $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond.

National Weather Service meteorologist Vasil Koleci said the temperature would have been between 16 and 18 degrees above zero at about 8 p.m. Monday. When the incident ended, the weather service said, the temperature would have been about 4 to 6 degrees lower.

Deputies charged Henderson with first-degree criminal contempt, second-degree burglary, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, two counts of second-degree harassment, both violations, and a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal mischief.

The stolen property charge was lodged for an allegation Henderson had a Chase bank direct payment card that didn’t belong to him in his possession.

Henderson was charged with third-degree assault on two separate occasions in 2007 — in June and November. The victim had a protection order barring Henderson from having contact with her. Violating that order led to the first-degree criminal contempt charge, Smith said.

Smith did not know the disposition of the 2007 charges.

Categories: Schenectady County

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