ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.
A local man arrested following a rash of tires slashed on the Outer Banks will get a mental health exam and be confined to his house with a GPS tracker.
Richard G. Perrot, 62, had his first appearance in federal district court here Monday on six counts of vandalism related to cut tires found on vehicles parked in Cape Hatteras National Seashore and in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
This year, 66 tires have been cut on at least 18 vehicles in the seashore and the refuge. Both properties fall under the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The repeated reports of slashed tires prompted the park to make public announcements in July looking for help finding the culprit. Officers used cameras and manual surveillance among other methods before focusing on Perrot, said Boone Vandzura, chief ranger for the seashore.
"There were long hours of investigation and lots of great police work," Vandzura said.
After Monday's hearing, the court set up a plan that bans Perrot from Department of Interior property and confines him to his house with a GPS tracker, Vandzura said. He will also receive a mental health evaluation. His next court hearing is set for Sept. 9 in Elizabeth City.
Perrot's arrest came after he was seen parking next to a Jeep Wrangler Sunday at beach access ramp 23 south of Salvo, Jay Eddy, a federal wildlife enforcement officer, said in court.
After Perrot left, Eddy saw that the Jeep's tires slashed, he told the judge. Eddy stopped Perrot afterward, searched his vehicle and found two folding pocket knives, he said.
Judge Terrence Boyle asked Perrot why he would cut tires and if he had a grudge against tourists.
Perrot explained he had parked in the lot and then left without cutting tires.
"I know absolutely nothing about what they're talking about," Perrot said. "That's all I got to say."
Perrot was also charged in relation to tires cut on a vehicle at Coquina Beach on Friday, Vandzura said.
Perrot's wife, Shelly, said after the hearing she was not sure if he had slashed tires or not. He has not been the same man since their 30-year-old son died five years ago, she said. She supported a court-ordered mental health exam.