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New London - Less than two weeks before Joel Matthews allegedly killed his neighbors and set their multifamily house on fire to conceal the crime, police received a complaint from a downtown businesswoman that she was having "ongoing problems" with Matthews and his mother.
The complaint filed by Barbara Neff alleges that Matthews threatened to kill her; Kip Bochain, a downtown property owner and chairman of the Parking Commission; and another local man.
On April 3, Neff, who is the Sailfest executive director and the city's waterfront coordinator, requested to see police to report vandalism to her car. This was the second time her car had been vandalized, she said.
Police said they interviewed Neff, who was upset about an "ongoing problem" she blamed on two people whose names were redacted in the report.
Neff said Monday that she filed the complaint against Matthews and his mother, Julie Vince, but was too upset to talk about the matter. On Wednesday, she said she had no comment.
Neff told police that her car and her place of business had been vandalized in the past, but she was never able to prove who was involved. She also told police that she was being harassed by someone whose name was redacted in the report.
While police were speaking with Neff, a man later identified as Angelo Ducharme came in and informed police that a person whose name is redacted in the report threatened him that same day on Bank Street near the Ravi Petro gas station mart.
Ducharme told police that the person "mentioned he was going to kill Neff and Kip as well."
Bochain said Wednesday that Ducharme, who does odd jobs for him, said it was Matthews who made the threat. Police said they are not releasing Ducharme's statement at this time.
It was not clear what actions police took to investigate the threats. Police Chief Margaret Ackley could not be reached to comment Wednesday.
Bochain said he believes problems he had with Vince and Matthews stemmed from his eviction of Vince four or five months ago for failure to pay rent on a property he owned on Huntington Street.
He said that during the eviction process, he had a confrontation with Matthews over removing items from a garage, during which Matthews threatened him.
Bochain said his car was also vandalized around the same time that Neff's car was damaged.
Bochain didn't take Matthews' recent threat too seriously.
"You hear and see a lot of things when you work in the downtown," said Bochain. "I didn't put a lot of credence to it. I know Barbara was upset about it, and I guess she was right."
He said Vince used to clean the office that he and Neff share on State Street.
In the report, Neff told police her car was damaged in front of her residence and the left side was scratched. Police said it appeared that the car was "keyed."
The report said there was no witnesses or suspects "at this time." The case was closed.
Matthews has been charged with killing Noel Starback, 57, and Sherry Roush, 50, on Friday by striking each of them with a blunt object. He told police he set the house on fire to conceal the crime. Matthews lived on the second floor and Starback and Roush on the first floor at the 36 Blinman St. apartment house.
He is charged with capital felony, two counts of murder and second-degree arson.
Matthews has a history of violence. In October 2005, he shot a man in front of Sam's Food Store on Ocean Avenue in New London. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after three years served and three years of probation, for first-degree assault in that case.
Starback and Roush were often seen walking downtown. Starback was a handyman whose carpentry can be seen at Y-Knot Cafe and Bank Street Cafe. In 2007, he repainted the 30 steel carousel horses at Ocean Beach Park.