ENFIELD-- Enfield police have made an arrest in a December 2016 hit-and-run that killed a 20-year-old man.
Police arrested 29-year-old Rocco P. Barile at his home on Friday morning without incident. Barile is charged with misconduct with a motor vehicle, evading responsibility-death, tampering with physical evidence, failure to renew registration, and failure to drive in a proper lane.
After a "very extensive, extremely time consuming investigation," Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferazza said investigators put together a lengthy arrest warrant application, which the judge found sufficient for probable cause.
On December 2 around 1 a.m., Jeremy Mercier's body was found along Route 5, near the intersection with Orbit Drive.
Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said there were no eyewitnesses to the crash making this investigation that much more difficult.
"It wasn't the time of day where there'd be any traffic or people around, so you could imagine the investigative man hours that went into this, checking with neighbors, checking with anybody that had any tips that had come in or anything like that," said Sferrazza.
He said investigators were ultimately able to connect evidence found on scene to a vehicle registered to Barile. FBI and State Police forensic labs confirmed that connection.
"We understand the emotional need to hold people accountable," said Sferrazza, when asked about the nearly seven months that passed between the crash and the arrest. "We would be doing the family a disservice to make an arrest prematurely before we had done a proper investigation."
Mercier was on his skateboard when he was hit. He was headed to the Enfield Square Mall to help a friend who had run out of gas.
He had been living with that friend and the friend's mother Sarah DeGray. DeGray said they have been waiting patiently for an arrest, although she wasn't sure it would ever happen.
"It's just kind of waiting on pins and needles," said DeGray. "It just seemed like there wasn't enough evidence to find out who this person actually was."
Her family keeps a photo of Mercier on their mantel and DeGray's daughter sleeps with one of Mercier's old sweatshirts.
"You know, we still talk to him and there's not a day that goes by that we don't think about him," she said.
Although she had hoped for more severe charges, DeGray said this is a happy day for her family.
She said, "The lead investigator called me to let me know. He said, 'I have some good news for you,' and he said, 'We arrested him about 20 minutes ago.' So that was a huge relief. I cried and smiled at the same time."
Barile is being held on $175,000 bond. He's due in court on July 3rd.