Travis J. Wiggin
"Coonpaw"
15 Years Old

April 30, 1973 to July 31, 1988

Travis was the most self-contented, calm, quiet, yet inquisitive child imaginable when he was very young, pre-speech. His eyes showed great depth and intensity even at that age; it wasn't unusual to get a strong sense that someone was watching you and turn to meet Travis' gaze. A parent could not have asked for more in a child. He was interested in many things, and won ribbons for downhill skiing, awards for soccer, basketball, baseball and track, breaking the school record in 1988 for the one-mile. He was in superb shape and won the Presidential Fitness Awards for 1987 and 1988. Travis was an accomplished high-diver, break-dancer, juggler, and he played the trumpet. He liked to fish small streams for Brooktrout with his brother, Gary, and his Dad. His drawings were always interesting, sometimes political, and usually humorous. He could have lived on spaghetti, preferred veggies to meat, and liked to cook himself a single egg in a #3 iron fry pan - over light.

Travis was a voracious reader and received mostly A's and B's in school. At the age of twelve the C.A.T. tests put him in the top one percentile of the national average, and in the English Literature category, at mid-college level. It was clear that his academic fort'e acute; was creative writing, and he started winning awards for it; a banquet at the Hilton in Manchester, held in his honor in 1987, was the pinnacle of those efforts. The Travis J. Wiggin Creative Writing Award is given out each year to someone in the eighth grade class at the school he graduated from.

Travis's accomplishments were many, and the short time it took him to become adept at anything he tried was uncanny. He had a broad, keen sense of humor and would belly-laugh to the point of breathlessness. He was positive - could make the best of a bad situation and find a way to laugh at it. It was infectious to those around him. He was a leader. All girls, young and old, loved him.

As if all the above was not enough, his crowning achievement wasn't academic. It was his humanity. He was a charmer to everyone and would shatter any barrier with his magnetism. Travis was a true natural humanitarian, having deep empathy for people and their situations, always willing to take the time for a few kind words, or a hug after listening to their problems. He got a mentally disabled classmate to speak where professionals had failed. He abhorred hunting because he thought all wild animals were our beautiful friends on this earth and deserved their life. LIFE - something Travis was so full of that sometimes his voice would quake with enthusiasm. He touched everyone in some way. A flowering Malus tree was planted on the front lawn, by the library, at the K.A. Brett School in his memory. The subsequent eighth grade class, after Travis's murder, dedicated their yearbook to him with his picture and an inscription which reads in part..."to a dear friend who gave us all so very much of himself. His live was short but full of excitement...WE LOVE YOU TRAVIS!"

He was a bright star. The school district also dedicated their report to him the same year, with a picture of him and a Haiku that Travis had written when he was twelve years old:

Let me just say this,
Nature has it's very own bliss
And you should feel it.

Nature is not fair,
See the forest for the trees,
Then see the beauty.

T.W. '85

Travis' best friend, Charles "Jesse" Sandoz, who had been with him since nursery school, commented after the murder: "It's such an irony that he should die the way he did. In all the years through school, I never saw him start a fight."

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE MURDER

Jason Anthony approached the group at the pay phone and "everybody told me to be quiet," he would later say. Sacha Eldridge had called Travis at the request of her brother, Timothy Eldridge. It was just before midnight when Travis's brother, Gary, answered the phone. Travis took the call from the girlfriend that had recently spurned him; after speaking with her, told his brother, "She wants to meet me at the Texaco station in five minutes. She's going to get dropped off and we're going to come back here." Minutes later at the Texaco, Travis ran up to Sacha, in your face close, and yet she spoke not a word to him. Her part was over. Three men, Timothy Eldridge (20 years old, 6 foot plus), Jason Anthony (19 years old, 5 foot, 9 inches), and Daniel Palmer (16 years old, 6 foot plus - Sacha's new boyfriend of 3 days), ran from the shadows to 15 year old, 5 foot, 7 inch Travis. Eldridge put a headlock on Travis and towed him back into the darkness, Anthony on their heels, followed. Travis said repeatedly, "Please don't hurt me, I'm scared!" In about 15 seconds, Anthony came out of the dark and went straight to his truck. Travis, his hands raised, palms outward, emerged from the dark; his jacket, between the shoulder blades, was in Eldridge's grip. Travis was led in hand straight to Eldridge's car. At one point Eldridge commanded him to put his hands down, which he did for a moment, then raised them again. Eldridge opened the car door and got him into the car, closed the door and ran around to the driver's side and got in.

Eldridge's car led the way to a lake, about two miles away. Others followed in their cars. Eldridge condemned Travis on the way for his interest in Eldridge's girlfriend, who was sitting in the rear seat at his request. Another girl sat beside her. Just before a hairpin turn at the lake's entrance, Eldridge pulled a .357 Magnum revolver and pointing it critically at Travis, cocked it. Travis begged for his life. One hundred feet beyond the hairpin, the car stopped, the girls in the rear seat looked at each other and one grabbed the other girl's hand. Eldridge fired.

The hollow point slug caused massive damage. Travis lived a bit more than an hour. Sacha and Timothy's father, James Eldridge, was at that time a working veteran dispatcher of the New Hampshire State Police and stationed at "Troop E" - the same troop that would purport to investigate his children. The top dog in the N.H.S.P at that time was Colonel Lyn Presby. Presby had been stationed at "Troop E" for most of his early career. He and James are close, old time, good friends. It would be after Timothy's trial, more than a year later, that Travis's dad would learn that Daniel Palmer's mother, Nancy Palmer, at the time of the murder, worked for the Attorney General, training police officers.

Timothy only was charged with manslaughter. The Grand Jury had a maximum of Murder II they could impose, which they did, and clamored to prosecutors as to why they were not able to consider charges for the others involved. They were told that the others would be charged at a later time. To this day, no grand jury has ever been able to consider charges for the other principals involved. The late Thomas B. Wingate, Esq., had an answer for that: "The hierarchy of the New Hampshire State Police is the most corrupt group in our State's Government. They just refuse to investigate critical evidence if it interferes with their theory of the case - or in this instance, how they want to dispose of it. People think that the Attorney General keeps an eye out for such shenanigans. The cops give everyone the impression that they and the A.G. are adversaries - don't believe it, they sleep together every night. That's why the cops can bury evidence with impunity."

Tom had worked for the New Hampshire Attorney General's office for twelve years. He called this case, "The investigation that never happened."

Timothy Eldridge has a long history of violence that runs the gamut from choking his girlfriend, to try to kill the fetus she was carrying from another man; slapping her to bring her back to consciousness, then repeatedly choking her again. He threatened a man with an axe-handle and assaulted another with an iron pipe, leaving the latter unconscious and lying on the road in a pool of his own blood. That victim has permanent brain damage. Twenty-two days prior to murdering Travis, Eldridge beat up a man and sent him to a hospital with head trauma. The statements from witnesses were never even typed up by "Troop E." The man wanted to press charges but changed his mind after Eldridge and his gang harassed him for a week by parking outside his house at night. Eldridge's M.O. was to return and intimidate people into either not pressing or dropping charges. All of the above were looked into by "Troop E." No charges were ever brought.

Criminologists will tell you that the gems of evidence in a case will shine forth with time as the less important facts fade. It is clear that the 307 pages of the too-short, investigative file speaks to lack of interviews that should have been conducted. It is clear that the admissions, omissions, admitted perjuries and outright lies from this group had built a very flimsy house of cards that investigators had to handle with kid gloves. No pressure was brought to bear on these people. Travis' Dad asked investigators, repeatedly, to ask everyone in that group if they saw Eldridge open the door for Travis - a very important point to prove kidnap. The answer came back several months later through investigators; they had asked everyone and none of the group with Eldridge saw him open the door. There is nothing in the file that represents that that question was ever asked of them.

Sacha testified at Timothy's trial that she saw her brother open the door for Travis. The reason consistently given by the Attorney General and N.H.S.P. investigators to Travis' family as to why they could not press kidnap charges was because they couldn't prove that he didn't get in the car by his own free will. You do the math.

"To say that a conspiracy didn't exist to kidnap Travis contradicts the principals' own admissions. To say that Travis got into that car by his own free will is nothing short of ABSURD!" - Thomas B. Wingate, Esq.

Timothy Eldridge is doing 25 years to life. His tentative release date is 2014.

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Travis Wiggin