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Canadian senator criticizes US border security

TORONTO -- A Canadian senator criticized US Customs for allowing into the United States a man carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles, and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood.

Gregory Despres arrived April 25 at the US-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, saying he was an assassin, the same day he was to be sentenced in Canada on charges he assaulted and threatened to kill his neighbor's son-in-law.

The next day, a gruesome scene was discovered at the neighbors' home: the decapitated body of Frederick Fulton, a 74-year-old country musician, on the kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was found stabbed to death in a bedroom.

Canadian police and US Customs officials did not know about the slayings when Despres appeared at the border, but they knew he was due in court that day for sentencing on the assault case. They let him enter anyway.

Colin Kenny, chairman of Canada's Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defense, said Friday that US Customs should have at least alerted local police in Maine.

''I think I would have wanted to keep a close eye on that fellow for a while," Kenny said. ''The whole thing gives me a queasy feeling."

Bill Anthony, a spokesman for US Customs, said Friday that the Canada-born Despres could not be detained because he is a naturalized US citizen and there was no warrant out for his arrest.

But William Heffelfinger, deputy assistant commissioner for field operations for US Customs, acknowledged that they knew Despres was probably going to skip his court appearance.

Heffelfinger said Despres told customs officials that he was with the Marine Corps and ''a trained sniper with over 700 kills."

Despres, 22, became a suspect in the murders because of a history of violence between him and his neighbors, and he was arrested April 27 in Mattapoisett, Mass. He is being held in Plymouth jail, facing extradition to Canada.

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