UMass students arrested for alleged theft of Christmas tree

Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 07, 2016

AMHERST — The theft of a Christmas tree from the annual Boy Scouts sale at Kendrick Park led to the arrest of two University of Massachusetts students early Friday morning, Dec. 2, according to police.

Lindsay I. Zappolo, 21, of Scituate, and Miranda Murphy, 21, of North Attleboro, were both arrested on charges of larceny under $250 after they were found walking with the tree at 1:03 a.m., Detective Michael Forcum said.

A third woman involved in the alleged theft fled and was not located by officers, Forcum said.

Murphy said in a phone interview Monday that the woman who wasn’t arrested had challenged her and Zappolo to jump the fence and take a Christmas tree.

“We got thrown in on a dare to snag a Christmas tree,” Murphy said. “Being silly, we tried to grab one.”

Both women pleaded innocent at their arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on Dec. 2 and their cases are continued.

Troop 500 Scoutmaster Michelle Chandler said Monday that she had not been told about the theft prior to working at the sale Sunday, but observed that such an incident is unfortunate as the sale is a major fundraiser for Troops 500, 504 and 550. Each troop is hoping to earn between $4,000 and $5,000 from the sale, she said.

For Troop 500, which also includes a Cub Scouts feeder group, the proceeds are used to pay membership fees so that children of all socioeconomic backgrounds can participate in scouting, and to reduce the costs to attend summer camp and camping sites.

The sale has been located at the southern end of Kendrick Park for more than 60 years and includes a variety of Fraser and Balsam firs, grown and shipped from northern Vermont.

Each boy, Chandler said, will give a fresh cut to a tree when selected by a customer and then bring the tree to the customer’s vehicle, placing it inside or securing it on top. The Scouts work shifts alongside their parents.

Chandler said the sale is open weekdays from 4 to 8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will run through Dec. 22, but will close earlier if all trees are sold out.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.