|Re: 11/19/05 - Hartford Courant: A Look Into A Secret World;|
Quiet Neighbor Suspected Of Being Sexual Predator; 11/23/05 - DA: No Connection Between Bish, Kidnapping Suspect
A Look Into A Secret World
Quiet Neighbor Suspected Of Being Sexual Predator
November 19, 2005
By KATIE MELONE, Courant Staff Writer
WATERBURY -- They sat next to him in church, watched him beautify his Victorian house and sipped lemonade with him on summer evenings.
Those who know John Regan, the son of a well-known retired city dentist, say he was an ordinary middle-class husband, father, and Catholic living in the city's historic Overlook neighborhood.
But, over the past year, police say, they've unearthed a parallel world Regan, 49, kept secret from his family, friends and his neighbors: a world of surreptitious photographs, the stalking of young women, and rape, court papers and police charge.
"Your next-door neighbor, your guys to the left, to the right of you, you think you know them, you think you know their problems," said Grant Hayden, the branch manager of ABC Supply Co., where Regan worked until last summer. "That's the same thing you'd get from John Regan. He was average. Just average. Kind of an outgoing guy. A good parent and seemed like a good citizen. Everybody's in shock about this."
After a failed suicide attempt, Regan, a former salesman and manager at the roofing company, now sits in a psychiatric facility in upstate New York charged with trying to abduct a 17-year-old girl in a parking lot there on Halloween.
The arrest in New York state came as Regan prepared to go to trial in Waterbury on kidnapping charges in the 1993 rape of a friend's wife that for years went unsolved, and the 2004 attempted rape of a co-worker. He's also accused of photographing and stalking the co-worker as recently as October.
"Everyone's saying the same thing - sad and unbelievable," said Gloria Vilardo, 71, who often visits her daughter, one of Regan's neighbors, on Euclid Avenue. She's watched him work on his house, and in his immaculately kept yard. "How do you lead a double life?" she wondered.
Efforts to reach Regan's family were unsuccessful.
Regan's most recent arrest in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., set off a frenzy of media reports that he could be tied to other sex-assault cases, sending shock through his hometown city of roughly 100,000.
"It makes me think - take a look at who's in your neighborhood," said Audra Cables, a bartender at Drescher's, a popular downtown bar and restaurant. "I guess you don't know."
Sources familiar with the investigation have said Waterbury police have reached out to state police about the homicides of two prostitutes found in Harwinton in the late 1980s. Both women worked the Grove Street area of Waterbury, only a mile or so from Regan's home.
A law enforcement task force is also looking into whether Regan could be linked to unsolved crimes in other states he may have traveled to for his work as a salesman. They have looked at Regan's work records in Massachusetts, where authorities are working to solve the homicide of Molly Bish, a 16-year-old who disappeared while working as a lifeguard in Warren in 2000. Police recently found several undated pictures of Regan with a mustache similar to the one worn in a police sketch of a possible suspect in the Bish case.
They have found no conclusive evidence thus far, and Worcester District Attorney John Conti has said in published reports that he does not think there is a link between Regan and the Bish killing.
"It's reckless, it's irresponsible," said E. Stewart Jones, the defense attorney who is handling Regan's criminal case in upstate New York. "They're throwing his name into the investigation when there's nothing to link him to these unsolved crimes. It's not fair to him, to the families who've lost loved ones."
Regan's world unraveled in the summer of 2004. Around 7 a.m. on the morning of July 31, Regan took his 21-year-old female employee to his vacationing father's house on Fleming Street, according to her account in court papers. He pulled her onto his lap, wouldn't let her go, then got on top of her. She managed to wriggle away, run out of the house, and called police on a cellphone.
Regan was charged with first-degree unlawful restraint a month later in August 2004, and was ordered to stay away from the victim. Timothy Moynahan, his attorney in the case, declined to comment.
Chief Neil O'Leary, who as the lead investigator had worked on the unsolved 1993 rape for a decade, said the site of the rape was close to Fleming Street, where Regan allegedly attacked the co-worker, and Euclid Avenue, where Regan lives.
He quickly found other links.
The 1993 victim smelled oil on her attacker, whose head was covered and voice disguised; Regan was a roofer and worked with tar.
Regan had once worked on the victim's house. He knew her husband well, court records show.
O'Leary also learned Regan attended a stag party the night of the rape for his cousin, Gregg Regan, according to a warrant. The victim's husband could not attend the party because he was out of town, and all the attendees, including John Regan, were aware of his absence.
Regan signed a consent form to submit his DNA, and the results produced a perfect match to DNA recovered from the 1993 victim shortly after the assault, court records state. Regan was charged with first-degree kidnapping because the statute of limitations had run out on the sexual assault.
Hubert Santos, Regan's attorney in the 1993 case, did not return a call for comment.
In early October, a Walgreen's clerk contacted police, saying that John Regan had a roll of film developed that included pictures of a dozen young women, mostly blondes, in their 20s, who were not aware they were being photographed, police said. Waterbury police started to investigate.
Sometime that month, Regan went to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he has family. He tried grabbing the 17-year-old girl from behind and pulling her into his van on Oct. 31, police charge. Inside his van was a sheet tied into a noose, a camera and film, according to reports in the Saratogian, the local paper.
"I think it was a fairly surprising act for a location like that," said Lt. Gary Forward of the Saratoga Springs police department. "There were a lot of people around. We believe from our investigation he went there with the specific purpose of abducting a young girl. I think he determined to do that regardless of who was around. I don't think we can say that specific person was targeted. But we can say with great certainty he was very organized."
Jones, Regan's defense attorney in New York, says accounts of the incident there have been exaggerated. Regan has pleaded not guilty in that case. Jones expects an indictment to be unsealed after Thanksgiving.
"He has a different explanation for what occurred. I know he didn't handle it well," Jones said of Regan's fleeing the parking lot after he allegedly tried to abduct the 17-year-old girl. "I think if he hadn't left, we wouldn't be talking right now."
Days after the upstate New York attack, police discovered one of the women in Regan's roll of film was his former co-worker, the same woman he tried to rape in July 2004, police said. They lodged a stalking charge against him Nov. 2, his third pending criminal case.
The arrests have rocked the community and his church, St. Margaret's, where he attends Mass and his mother attends regularly.
"And when the DNA evidence surfaced - oh - it was a real shock to all of us," said the Rev. Joseph Looney.
Looney recalls leaving the house of one of Regan's neighbors one summer evening and being called over for some lemonade. He obliged. Regan's sons played in the yard. He said he observed that Regan was a little reserved, but still a polite, friendly man. Regan offered to repair some pews in the church, Looney recalls.
Since the arrests, he has assured Regan's mother, Gioia, that he's praying for Regan.
"I like that phrase that says in every tragedy we have the opportunity of finding the seeds of an equivalent blessing," Looney said.
An Associated Press report is included in this story. Courant Staff Writer Dave Altimari also contributed.
DA: No Connection Between Bish, Kidnapping Suspect
11:29 AM EST, November 23, 2005
Associated Press WORCESTER, Mass. -- The district attorney said there is no connection between a Connecticut man arrested last month for an attempted abduction in upstate New York and the unsolved slaying of teenager Molly Bish.
Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte said that there is no evidence linking John Regan, 49, of Waterbury, to the death of Bish, who disappeared from her lifeguard post at Warren's Comins Pond in June 2000. The 16-year-old's remains were found three years later in a wooded area a few miles away.
"He has never been a suspect in our eyes," Conte said. "We have nothing that connects him."
Conte said investigators have records showing Regan wasn't in the area at the time of Bish's disappearance, but he declined to give details.
Reports of a possible link between Regan and Bish surfaced in recent weeks after Regan, a traveling salesman, was arrested Oct. 31 for allegedly trying to pull a 17-year-old girl into his van in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Investigators began checking hotels near Warren to see if Regan was in Massachusetts during Bish's disappearance. He traveled annually to sales conferences in Sturbridge, not far from where Bish disappeared.
Regan faces unrelated kidnapping, stalking and unlawful restraint charges following two alleged attacks in Waterbury. Police searched his parents' house recently and found several undated pictures of Regan with a mustache similar to the one worn in a police sketch of a possible suspect in the Bish case.
Investigators from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York met in Springfield on Monday to discuss several cases, including Regan's. A state trooper from Conte's office attended the meeting.
Conte said a special grand jury impaneled in May 2004 to investigate the Bish case is expected to conclude its work by the end of January.