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No charge yet in presumed Avon death

So far, suspects face counts tied to kidnapping

James J. Robertson disappeared after getting into a car with two men dressed as constables on New Year’s Day.

Norfolk DA

James J. Robertson disappeared after getting into a car with two men dressed as constables on New Year’s Day.

DEDHAM — Not long after his son drove off with two men dressed as constables on New Year’s Day for what was supposed to be a surprise drug test, David Robertson of Avon knew something was wrong.

James J. Robertson is now presumed dead; on Monday his parents went to Norfolk Superior Court for the arraignment of one of the four men accused in a dark plot to kidnap their son.

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Among those charged is a Dedham police officer, who, prosecutors said, provided the plan’s mastermind with his badge and police gear to carry out the abduction.

No one has been charged with Robertson’s death.

“I knew that night something was wrong because I never heard from him again,” David Robertson, the father, said Monday in a telephone interview. “He never called me.”

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One of the accused kidnappers, Scott W. Morrison, 46, was scheduled to be in court Monday to answer charges of kidnapping and conspiracy. But at the request of his defense attorney, the Norfolk man was allowed to be arraigned without going before a judge.

Defense lawyer Edward J. McCormick III said it would be “unduly prejudicial” for Morrison to appear in court, since identification, and the use of a lineup for identification, are issues in the case.

Robertson’s parents and a family friend saw him outside his Avon home with the two men who said they were constables before he vanished, according to an affidavit filed in Norfolk Superior Court. His parents were among those in court Monday.

“The alleged eyewitnesses, some of whom participated in the lineup, are in the courtroom, as well, so the appearance of the defendant . . . would perhaps deny the defendant any due process rights to challenge the identification,” McCormick said.

McCormick entered not- guilty pleas on Morrison’s behalf. Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman set bail at $200,000, the same amount Morrison has been held on since being charged in District Court in May.

During an interview on April 3, Morrison told investigators he spent the day that Robertson disappeared working on a friend’s car in Norwood and looking for a dealer to sell pills to him and his codefendant, Alfred A. Ricci III, 45, of Canton, the affidavit says. Morrison made no mention of Robertson.

Morrison and Ricci were acting on instructions from James M. Feeney, 44, an alleged drug dealer from Dedham, when they went to Robertson’s home on New Year’s Day, the affidavit says.

When Morrison arrived at Robertson’s house in his Camry, he was wearing a badge and gun and carrying a manila folder, while Ricci stood at the passenger side, according to the affidavit, written by State Trooper Brian Tully and dated May 28.

ALSO SEE: 8/6: Dedham officer accused of role in kidnapping of man now feared dead

Both men owed Feeney money for drugs, Tully wrote.

Feeney had offered to wipe their debts clean and give them pills if they went to get Robertson, the affidavit says.

Feeney was angry that Robertson was dating his former girlfriend, and he suspected Robertson of informing on him, Tully wrote.

“Feeney was obsessing over Robertson,” Tully quoted Ricci as saying.

McCormick said he is skeptical of the allegations in the affidavit, saying they’re “totem pole hearsay.”

The affidavit was impounded at the request of prosecutors in Stoughton District Court. But it was available last week in Norfolk Superior Court as part of a request from one of the defendants for a bail reduction.

READ MORE: 1/10: Police investigate ‘suspicious disappearance’ of Avon man

The Globe is not divulging portions of the affidavit at the request of the office of Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey.

Prosecutors say Officer Michael Schoener of the Dedham police aided the kidnapping by lending his badge and other police gear to Feeney. Schoener pleaded not guilty Wednesday to one count of being an accessory before the fact to kidnapping.

Feeney and Ricci are to be arraigned later this week. They pleaded not guilty to charges in District Court and are being held on bail.

David Robertson said the men his son left with “looked the part” of constables. He said that James Robertson’s young children, ages 11 and 4, miss him terribly. “He just wanted the white picket fence and the kids,” his father said.

More coverage of area mysteries:

• 7/2013: Box of bones sent to Globe brings end to long mystery

•Thomas Farragher: The mystery of Provincetown’s Lady of the Dunes, 40 years later

• Ideas: Unsolved mysteries of Boston

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.
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