Man, stepfather deny charges they harassed a Lynnfield family by stealing BLM signs, repeatedly vandalizing their home

LYNNFIELD, MASS. (WHDH) - A month-long investigation into acts of vandalism, property damage, and civil rights violations has culminated in the arrest of a Lynnfield man and his stepfather, according to authorities.

Joshua Simpson, 21, was released on $750 bail after pleading not guilty to charges of malicious destruction of property, two counts of larceny under $1200, vandalizing property, resisting arrest, property damage to intimidate, and criminal harassment.

His stepfather, Stephen Smith, 55, was ordered held without bail pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, property damage to intimidate, and assault to murder, according to a joint release issued by Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett and Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen.

Lynnfield police responded to a report of vandalism at a home on Summer Street on Aug. 17 and found an obscenity directed at Black Lives Matter spray-painted on the driveway of the home. The homeowner reported that their Black Lives Matter sign had been stolen the night before but they had not reported it.

The homeowners said they were harassed for weeks because of those signs.

“If you have a problem with my sign come talk to me about it do not creep out in the middle of the night and be a coward,” Andrea Markarian said.

Officers said they have responded to and investigated a series of similar crimes at the same home including stolen signs, thrown eggs, and tomatoes.

“It also brought me a lot of worry for my two sons who live in the house and are black,” Markarian said.

Simpson was seen approaching the home with a carton of eggs early Tuesday morning while officers were conducting surveillance in the area.

A struggle ensued while officers tried to take him into custody and that is when they say Smith arrived in his car and attempted to run them over.

“This department spent countless hours responding to these reports and working with the homeowners to identify the perpetrators,” said Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen.  “I am hopeful that these arrests and eventual prosecution of these individuals will help provide some peace of mind to the victims and send a message to others that this type of conduct will not be tolerated in this community.”

The community has rallied around Markarian and her family by offering words of support and helping them clean up the vandalism.

Simpson is due back in court for a pre-trial conference on Sept. 30.

Smith is due back for a dangerousness hearing on Sept. 21.

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