WARWICK— John DePetro, an independent Rhode Island radio talk show host, was arrested outside of a private home on Staples Avenue on Tuesday and charged with trespassing, Warwick police told the Globe.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Warwick officers responded to the home for a report of a disturbance. DePetro had returned to the home at 29 Staples Ave. and was livestreaming from across the street.
The home is connected to a woman who went missing in May. Charlotte Lester, 44, was known to frequent the home, which was previously searched by police, though her connection to the home or its owner, 62-year-old Mark Perkins, is still unclear.
Lester’s dog was found roaming a few miles away, around Elmwood Avenue, on May 18, and her red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck was found in the parking lot at Kent Hospital on May 20, police said.
DePetro, whose show airs on 1380 AM and 99.9 FM WNRI as well as online, was live-streaming on his Facebook page during the time of his arrest on Tuesday. DePetro told his viewers that he went to the home to “continue to search for answers from the owner of the home” who has allegedly “refused to offer any details to the media on her disappearance or why Warwick Police treated his house as a crime scene for a month.”
DePetro later posted a video on his Facebook page from outside of the Warwick Police station and said Tuesday’s arrest was his first. He claimed that while he approached the home he saw Perkins through the window and thought Perkins was “waving at” DePetro, to tell him to come up to the house. He was arrested while on Perkins’ property.
On Wednesday, DePetro and Diane “Ladybug” Sullivan stationed themselves across the street, livestreaming. Perkins walked onto his front lawn wearing a bright orange ski mask. The video shows DePetro and Sullivan repeatedly asking Perkins, “Where’s Charlotte?”
Perkins placed a radio on his front lawn, blasting opera. Then he walked to his fenced-in back yard and returned moments later pushing a red, gas-powered lawn mower. In the video, he is seen turning the lawn mower on, moving toward DePetro and Sullivan, and then releasing the lawn mower. Then the livestream abruptly ends.
DePetro alleged that his video equipment was damaged during the incident, his cell phone was missing, and that he sustained injuries. Police said he sought medical treatment on his own. Diane Sullivan told police that Perkins “struck her foot” but she was not injured and did not wish to press charges.
According to police, Perkins was arrested and is facing charges related to disorderly conduct, vandalism, larceny, and assault with intent to commit a felony, police said. The orange ski mask and DePetro’s cellphone were found inside Perkins’ home. He is expected to be arraigned in Warwick on Thursday. After Tuesday’s arrest, DePetro was released with a summons to appear in court on Sept. 1. He said in a video that he would plead not guilty.
Lester remains missing, and her family has hired a private investigator to look into her disappearance.
This article has been updated with information from the Warwick police and news of the homeowner’s arrest on Wednesday.