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New Haven man says hatred of brother drove him to chop down 200-year-old Door Tree

MERIDEN — A New Haven man faces charges of criminal mischief and criminal trespass after he confessed to chopping down the Door Tree in Hamden.

The Door Tree was a 200-year-old white oak that grew into the form of an archway and had been featured on ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not!’

Curtis Pardee, 63, of New Haven, was charged with criminal mischief, and criminal trespass.

According to court records obtained by FOX61, Pardee told arresting officers he has suffered from mental illness for years and “cut down the tree because of virulent hatred for [his] brother.”

Pardee’s son, Nathan, released a statement Thursday to FOX61:

“My dad has been nothing but a loving father and a hard-working member of society my entire life. Unfortunately, he has endured a great deal of emotional trauma and abuse since he was a child. This is not the story of a man with sinister motives or dangerous tendencies – it is the story of a good man who made a mistake because he has been unable to come to terms with so many years of pain. We’ll all miss the Door Tree, including my father. I hope he is able to get the help he needs, and that people will judge him with the compassion he has so often been denied.”

“It’s sad to have seen it taken away by the act of vandalism,” said Dan Doyle, Public Affairs and Communications Manager of the Regional Water Authority (RWA). “I’ve received hundreds of responses from around the world from people who were concerned about this tree.”

According to officials, Pardee used a small chainsaw to cut down the Door Tree over the course of several days. It was found in pieces on July 18 on RWA land. The RWA protects about 27,000 acres of property.

Doyle said he hopes this story inspires people to protect their own local environments.

“We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support,” he said.

Pardee’s case was continued and he is scheduled to appear back at Meriden Superior Court on September 17.

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