Convicted murderer missing after fleeing from transitional housing in Bellows Falls

Local News

Federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies are searching for a convicted murderer who removed an electronic monitoring device and fled from transitional housing on Wednesday.

William Wheelock was convicted on second-degree murder charges in 1987 and sentenced to serve 21-99 years in prison after killing James Brillon in a Ludlow apartment.

He was last seen at about 3:30 pm on Wednesday entering a dark-colored SUV (possibly a newer-model Nissan Rogue) with two to three other people. A photo provided by VSP shows the vehicle, which was at the Penguin Mart on Rockingham Street in Bellows Falls when Wheelock entered it. It was last seen heading north toward Rockingham on Route 5.

He’s described as a white male, 6’2″, 215 pounds. He has blue eyes and thinning gray hair, with a tattoo that reads “666” on his left eyelid.

He was released on furlough on January 28, but still under DOC supervision while living in Bellows Falls transitional housing. According to Vermont State Police, the Vermont Department of Corrections was alerted immediately when Wheelock cut off and discarded his monitoring device. They are urging Vermonters to be alert.

“He is a convicted murderer, and due to the nature of his actions and the unpredictability of his conduct, there is reason to believe he may be dangerous,” said Adam Silverman, a spokesperson for VSP. “People should be cautious. If anyone sees him, we don’t want people to approach him or make contact with him in any way. Just call 911 or call your local law enforcement agency.”

His disappearance has shaken the family of James Brillon. It’s not the first time he’s been released from prison after the incident, nor is it the first time he’s violated probation. According to the Rutland Herald, he was released in October 2002 despite breaking the conditions of his furlough months earlier. He was once again taken into custody in January 2003 after leaving a residential drug and alcohol treatment program in Springfield, Massachusetts. Police say he has ties to the Springfield area.

Brillon’s brother Patrick Sears said he’s had nightmares and health complications ever since the murder, and Wheelock’s latest violation is unsettling.

“I can’t close my eyes without witnessing him shooting my brother in the heart repeatedly,” Sears said. “That’s what I see when I close my eyes. I have a very dysfunctional life that I’ve had since 16 years old because of what this man did.”

Sears claims he was notified of Wheelock’s release only after the fact. He has long been critical of how Wheelock’s 21-99 year sentence has been handled.

“It’s just ludicrous what I continue to deal with and people that are making the decision to release him over and over not only don’t have to deal with it, they won’t even respond to phone calls and nobody will tell me why this continues to happen,” Sears said.

Anyone with information on Wheelock’s whereabouts is asked to contact law enforcement:

Vermont State Police Westminster Barracks, 802-722-4600.
Bellows Falls Police Department, 802-463-1234.
U.S. Marshals Service, 802-951-6271.

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