By PHILLIP BANTZ
Joseph P. Childs, 39, of Townshend shot himself in the head with a 9 mm pistol while he sat beside his mother in the passenger seat of her car, waiting to turn himself over to Brattleboro police detectives, according to Sheriff Keith D. Clark.
Childs pulled the trigger just as detectives were approaching the car to arrest him on federal charges of possession and production of child pornography, according to Vermont State Police Sgt. John Hagen.
Hagen said Childs did not threaten anyone else with the gun. After the shooting, an ambulance rushed Childs to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
U.S. Attorney Thomas D. Anderson said the production of child pornography charge is tied to a girl who police say was repeatedly molested by Childs earlier this year. He said Childs also had child pornography that did not involve the girl.
The girl, now 10, told investigators that Childs began abusing her in March at his Brattleboro apartment. She said Childs would disrobe her and touch her inappropriately, according to an affidavit prepared by Brattleboro police detective Michael W. Carrier.
She also said that Childs sometimes gave her money after the incidents, and laughed once when she told him her parents would eventually find out about the abuse.
Childs was arrested at his mother’s Townshend residence in April after a brief standoff with Vermont State Police troopers.
He was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
He was re-arrested in May on charges of possession of child pornography and promoting sexual conduct with a child. Investigators said Childs’ computer contained images of child pornography.
Carrier refused to say whether those charges involved the girl Childs allegedly molested.
Childs was released from the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., after posting $15,000 bail shortly after his second arrest.
The Vermont State Police are investigating Childs’ death. His body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy scheduled for today.
In the meantime, a second man, Anthony M. Giallella, 70, of Brattleboro faces two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. He and Childs are accused of molesting the same girl.
Giallella, a convicted sex offender, was arrested Oct. 17, when he showed up at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital threatening to kill himself because of what he’d done to the girl, police said.
He is accused of directing the girl to remove her clothing and inappropriately touching her on several occasions while the two were alone inside his Brattleboro apartment.
During a search of Giallella’s apartment, investigators said they found children’s underwear and diary entries describing sexual encounters with other young girls.
They also found numerous photographs of Giallella posing with children inside his apartment. They are working to identify those children.
Giallella remains at the Springfield jail for lack of $5,000 bail.