Westboro Man Admits to Locking Verizon Worker in Underground Vault

The 73-year-old was ordered to stay away from all Verizon technicians.

Image via Google Streetview

Image via Google Streetview

A 73-year-old Westboro man had admitted to locking a Verizon worker in his underground vault because he parked on the man’s grass.

Howard Cook Jr. pleaded guilty to kidnapping in Worcester Superior Court on Tuesday, after he was accused of locking Michael Hathaway in an unventilated vault in 2013 and placing large rocks on top of the hatch, the Associated Press reports. Police said Cook was upset that Hathaway parked on the grass in front of his self-storage business.

Hathaway, whose family says he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident, escaped by using his cellphone to call for help, police said. Cook allegedly told police that he did not care if Hathaway, a Verizon worker of 28 years, suffocated in the vault.

“When I heard about what happened to my daddy, it was very scary. I was so sad,” Hathaway’s daughter said in court, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “My daddy was just trying to do his job. I don’t like it when my dad goes to work. I worry about him all the time.”

Though he faced 10 years in jail for the kidnapping charge, Cook was ordered to stay away from all Verizon technicians and complete an anger management program, in addition to one year of probation.

In 2006, a Wrentham District Court judge ordered Cook to pay a woman $500 after he banged his car door against hers for parking too close, and in 2011, Cook was allegedly thrown out of a Kretch’s Restaurant on Marco Island, Florida for throwing his plate to the floor upon learned they were all out of twice-baked potatoes.