Since launching just two months ago, in August 2019, the new Hamptons Police Department Cold Case Squad (HPDCCS) has already cleared one major arrest for crimes dating back decades. And they say more arrests are imminent.
Just this week, the team collared Rip Fisk Wilson for eschewing historic preservation rules at his East Hampton home some 30 years ago. According to Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch, Wilson was wanted since 1989 for “egregious violations of taste and decency” after replacing the shingles on his Egypt Lane house with vinyl siding and removing a perfectly good, wooden split rail fence with a 6-foot white PVC fence.
“An arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Wilson after he failed to show up in court or remove the changes to his home, but he managed to sell the property in an all cash deal and elude capture,” Hirsch explained on Wednesday, adding, “Hamptons PD had quietly engaged in a decades-long investigation and manhunt for this offender, but we accomplished little before our well-equipped Cold Case Squad joined the effort.”
Hirsch went on to thank elderly socialite and philanthropist Mitsy Pattison-White for funding the new squad this summer, pointing out that “none of this would be possible without Ms. Pattison-White’s generous support.”
Hoping to prove their worth and kick things off with what they suspected would be an easy win, the HPDCCS moved Wilson’s case to the top of the pile in August and focused their resources on finding the fugitive. “The squad managed to secure DNA from Wilson’s brother, who gave it over gladly,” Hirsch said, describing how they cracked the case. “From there, detectives entered the DNA into multiple databases until finally getting a match through a well-known genealogy website—Wilson had foolishly sent in his DNA to learn about his lineage, not realizing it could lead to a bust.”
The HPDCCS tracked Wilson down to a small private island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, where he had been living in solitude for at least 20 years. “I think it’s safe to say he was in total shock when we found him,” Hirsch said. “It didn’t help that our waterborne tactical team stormed the beaches of his island from all sides, entered the home with a battering ram and took him down by deploying multiple flashbang grenades. Wilson didn’t know what hit him—he was sitting by the fire doing a crossword puzzle.” Hirsch noted that Wilson’s new home also had vinyl siding and “a very unattractive plastic fence.”
Wilson was transported back to the Hamptons for his long-awaited trial, and he’s being held without bail.