The man accused of driving into a work site in Waltham on Wednesday, killing a local police officer and a National Grid employee, was ordered to spend five years in a psychiatric hospital in 2009 after he nearly struck a state police trooper during a chase in New Hampshire, court records show.
Peter J. Simon was also sent to prison in 2016 after he threatened to kill two people and led police on a chase in Franklin that ended only when he crashed his car and was captured after running away, according to court records.
Simon, 54, pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of manslaughter and multiple other charges stemming from the deaths of Officer Paul J. Tracey, 58, a veteran officer working a police detail, and Roderick Jackson, 36, a National Grid employee. He was ordered held without bail and is scheduled to return to court Dec. 14.
The woman involved in the 2016 incident said Thursday that she had met Simon in a professional capacity and returned from work one day to find him waiting outside her home. Armed with a hammer, Simon forced his way inside the house where he threatened the woman’s husband, dragged him down a set of stairs outside the home, and wrapped an electrical cord around his throat.
As police arrived, Simon drove away. During the ensuing chase, a State Police trooper fired at Simon’s pickup truck, according to court records and news coverage.
The victim, who asked not to be named because of concerns about her personal safety, said she has followed the coverage of the deaths in Waltham and expressed frustration that Simon had had hurt someone again, this time fatally.
“He’s a sociopath. There is nothing there,” she said. “If they had just locked him away and did not let him play the mental health card, people would be alive. That’s my personal opinion ... I just hope they never let him out.”
According to court records, Simon pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including the attacks on the Franklin couple, in 2017. He was sentenced to a maximum of four years in state prison and completed his sentence in 2020, according to the New Hampshire Department of Correction.
The attack in Franklin came seven years after Simon led police on a chase through Keene in which a trooper fired at his vehicle, according to court records and the Keene Sentinel.
On Thursday, the Keene Sentinel reported that police began pursuing Simon when he was seen driving a pickup truck the wrong way on Route 12. A State Police trooper fired at the truck before it crashed into a bus on Route 101, seriously injuring a passenger, according to the newspaper and court documents. Simon ran away but was captured after police used a Taser on him multiple times, witnesses told the newspaper.
According to court records, Simon pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and in 2011 was sentenced to spend five years in New Hampshire Hospital in Concord, the maximum term under state law. That year, Simon’s attorney told the Brattleboro Reformer that Simon had been diagnosed with dissociative disorder, had a history of panic attacks, and had recently stopped taking prescribed medications.