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Convicted burglar at center of Lyme investigation

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published July 13. 2012 2:00PM   Updated July 14. 2012 5:22PM

Lyme - State police searched a barn on the property of former First Selectman William T. Koch Jr. Thursday in connection with an investigation into possible burglaries committed by the son of Koch's girlfriend.

The search centered on the activities of Justin P. Weissinger, 25, a 2005 Lyme-Old Lyme High School graduate, convicted burglar and former Marine who once testified in a high profile murder case in California.

He was arrested Tuesday after allegedly leading Montville police on a high-speed chase into East Lyme. According to a court document, he was apprehended after fleeing into the woods on Cardinal Road. Police said he had in his possession a .380-caliber pistol that had been stolen from a Salem home on July 3. He also had two knives, 10 methadone pills, a glass pipe, less than a half ounce of marijuana, a clear plastic bag containing heroin and a marijuana grinder, according to police.

Weissinger, son of Nicole Weissinger, does not live at the Koch residence on 151 Brush Hill Road, but he has used the address for mail and other purposes. According to court records, he had recently been working for a Salem landscaper. He listed his father, Roger Weissinger of Old Lyme, as his emergency contact when he was booked by police.

It is unclear what police were searching for on the Koch property or whether anything was seized. A state police sergeant in charge of the investigation could not be reached for comment. Koch, a defense attorney and former first selectman of Lyme, declined to comment.

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno estimated the town, which is covered by state police from Troop F but currently has no resident trooper, has had five or six burglaries within the past several months.

"We've had a higher than average number in a compressed period of time," Eno said. "By Lyme standards, it's a problem."

Eno could not provide any details on the Weissinger investigation.

According to news reports, Weissinger was a Marine helicopter mechanic stationed at Camp Pendleton in California before he was dismissed from the service in 2009 because of drug use.

Weissinger said he had previously teamed up with the fellow Marines to burglarize dozens of houses and that at one point, the men assaulted an alleged drug dealer at gunpoint.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, Weissinger testified in June 2009 for the prosecution in a highly publicized double murder case about information he had allegedly received from one of the fellow Marines with whom he had carried out a string of burglaries.

He was incarcerated on a burglary charge when he testified about the murders of Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana Jenkins Pietzrak at the hands of four fellow marines. He was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.

Weissinger testified that the four Marines went to the Pietzrak home in Winchester, Calif. He said the men told them they confronted the sergeant at gunpoint, tied up Pietzrak and his wife, ransacked the home and sexually assaulted the wife. Weissinger said the men shot the couple three times in the head as they kneeled over a couch. The men said they then set the house on fire.

Weissinger was on probation for the California burglary when he was arrested Tuesday. He also has several pending motor vehicle charges, according to court records.

k.florin@theday.com

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