Dartmouth Man Sentenced for ‘Terrorizing’ Neighbors
FALL RIVER (WBSM) — A Dartmouth man with a history of alleged violence was sentenced to state prison Wednesday for assaulting and terrorizing his neighbors over an 18-month period.
According to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn, Frederick Preece, 52, was convicted after a six-day jury trial in Fall River Superior Court on indictments charging him with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and five counts of criminal harassment.
“I would like to thank the jury for carefully reviewing the evidence and holding the defendant accountable for terrorizing and repeatedly harassing his neighbors, who were just trying to live their lives,” District Attorney Quinn said.
Preece is already serving up to three and a half years in prison after being convicted last June of violently assaulting his elderly father in May 2021. On Wednesday, Judge Thomas Perrino sentenced him to an additional sentence of three and a half to four years, plus three years of supervised probation following his release.
Preece has a history of alleged violence, including a domestic assault charge in 2009. He was also acquitted of the 1991 murder of a New Bedford 18-year-old, after the jury decided Preece shot him in self defense.
In the current case, Preece was accused of threatening at least eight of his neighbors with death, and attempting to run elderly neighbors off the road with his vehicle.
June 2020: ‘The Reign of Terror’ Begins
The D.A.’s Office said Preece’s “reign of terror” began when he returned to live at his parents’ home on Barney’s Joy Road in June 2020.
“In addition to the death threats, the defendant instilled fear in his neighbors by also telling them he had previously killed a man, could accurately shoot a small object from 1,600 yards away, was going to bring a ‘real monster’ who had a number of confirmed kills to the laneway, was installing listening devices at their homes and was employing mercenaries to keep his neighbors off the road he falsely asserted was part of his parents’ property,” the D.A.’s Office said. “At one point, he placed a large utility pole in front of one of the victims’ homes and installed a guard shack at the end of the lane.”
At another point, Preece entered a neighbor’s property during a party armed with a chainsaw and began shouting at guests. He also approached a female neighbor sitting alone on her porch and threatened to kill her dog.
January 2021: Following Neighbors in His Vehicle
In January of 2021, Preece began following his neighbors in various motor vehicles.
“They found him to be ever present,” the D.A.’s Office said. “When they walked their dogs, he would appear and follow them. When they would leave their homes, the defendant would be there watching and waiting to force an encounter with them.”
Preece also saw another female neighbor walking her puppy on Barney’s Joy Road, and followed closely behind her in his car while she was on foot. Preece then opened his window and began screaming at her that he would kill her dog.
February 2021: Intimidating More Neighbors
The D.A.’s Office said Preece then expanded his focus to include his parents’ next-door neighbors.
“He was seen by one the victims on various dates and times in the month of February, ranging from the early morning hours to late at night, standing near the end of her driveway,” the D.A.’s Office said. “Sometimes he would stand and stare up at her home making her feel watched, other times (Preece) would scream various obscenities at her while pacing back and forth in front of the front yard.”
April 2021: Running Neighbors Off the Road
On April 8, 2021, a male neighbor had another altercation with Preece when the victim tried to take his motorcycle out onto Barney’s Joy Road.
“On that date the defendant again, ever present, was driving up and down the laneway. (Preece) ultimately parked and waited for the victim to pull out of his driveway for more than five minutes,” the D.A.’s Office said. “When the victim finally did pull out onto the lane, (Preece) drove a BMW SUV down the laneway at the victim at a high rate of speed, slammed on his brakes and stopped within inches of the victim’s motorcycle. (Preece) then began screaming at him again.”
Also in April, Preece was seen attempting to block access to the laneway by putting up chains attached to old concrete pillars and dragging them across the road.
There were then two incidents in April 2021 about two weeks apart in which Preece ran a 72-year-old man off the road while the man was walking.
In the first incident, “when the elderly victim first saw (Preece), he was traveling toward Barney’s Joy Road at a normal pace, around 30 miles per hour,” the D.A.’s Office said. “As (Preece) got closer to the victim, the engine began to race, the vehicle sped up, and (Preece) drove the vehicle abruptly toward the victim, forcing him to jump out of the road to avoid being hit. The defendant’s vehicle then moved back to the appropriate position in the road and drove off.”
Two weeks later, the same elderly man had almost an identical interaction with Preece.
“While the victim was taking a walk, the defendant’s car began accelerating to an estimated 60 MPH and drove abruptly at the victim, causing him to jump off of the shoulder of the road again,” the D.A.’s Office said. “On that date, (Preece) stopped the car, turned around and drove back to the victim. (Preece) then exited the vehicle and began yelling in his face.”
Numerous other similar incidents of criminal harassment occurred during the “harrowing” 18-month period, the D.A.’s Office said.
“The defendant engaged in extremely disturbing and menacing behavior for no rational reason,” District Attorney Quinn said. “This conduct, along with his previous conviction for assaulting his father, clearly demonstrates he is a danger to the community and a menace to his neighbors. I am pleased the defendant will be off the street for up to seven and a half years, and that the victims can move forward to resume their lives in a normal way.”