Men terrified in 2019 night time robbery of Turkish Cultural Center; culprit sentenced to prison

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Clay Humphrey 2019 booking photo/Manchester Police.

MANCHESTER, NH – A homeless man was sentenced to 4 ½ to 15 years in state prison on a dozen charges including robbing three men at the Turkish Cultural Center, forcing two of them into a closet and another into in another room where he cried and prayed after the man threatened to kill him.  

Clay Humphrey, 35, whose address is listed as the FIT/New Horizons Soup Kitchen but who has been detained since his arrest in 2019, pleaded guilty Thursday in Hillsborough County Superior Northern District to charges stemming from seven incidents taking place between July 17, 2019 and Nov. 13, 2019.

The Turkish Cultural Center incident on Oct. 23, 2019 carried the most serious charges – kidnapping, robbery and burglary.  Humphrey was sentenced to 4 ½ to 15 years on three counts of kidnapping and received credit for 548 days of pre-trial confinement. He was given suspended sentences on the remaining charges, including those in the incidents.

He also must pay restitution on release, which on the dozen charges could be more than $20,000 when a 17 percent charge is added by the Office of Cost Containment through which payment is made.

According to court documents, the Turkish Cultural Center incident began about 10:20 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2019.  One of the victims told Detective Justin Mangum when he arrived at the center he found it in darkness.  Immediately, he was grabbed from behind by a man who was half-naked, wearing only shorts.  The man, later identified by police as Humphrey, forced him into a closet where he went through his pockets, stole his wallet, credit cards, passport and two cell phones.

The man, who was interviewed by police using the Language Line Translator, couldn’t understand what Humphrey was saying but he told police he was scared, that Humphrey was screaming and yelling at him.  Humphrey shut him in the closet and blocked the door so he couldn’t get out.  A second man who arrived at the center with him also was forced into the closet.  They could not get out until a third man opened the door.

The man who also was locked in the closet said when they arrived they encountered a “barricade” in the entryway.

He turned to find a light switch when he heard a man ordering them on the ground.  He saw one man getting on the floor and going into a side room and then a muscular man grabbed him and said, “I have a gun!  I can shoot you! Don’t move, if you do, I can shoot you!”   He ordered him to put his laptop into a bag he had and then forced him into the closet as well.  In there, he sent text messages to another man telling him what was happening and to call police.

The third man told police when he arrived the center was dark and there were piles of stuff all over and the floor. A chair was up against a closet door.  He said he climbed over the pile of stuff when a man with a muscular build, wearing underwear or boxer shorts, came toward him and told him to get on the floor of another room or he would kill him.  

The man said he laid there crying and praying.  After a few minutes, Humphrey came back, again told him not to move or he would shoot him and then went through the man’s pockets, taking his wallet, car keys, and cell phone.  The man stayed on the floor waiting and listening for Humphrey to leave.  Once it was quiet, he could hear the other men yelling for him to get them out of the closet.  Objects had been wedged in the door and other items piled against it to keep it shut.

When police arrived, they discovered the president’s office door forced open. About $2,000 in cash was missing along with checkbooks, business cards, brochures and a coffee maker.  A mounted mailbox had been torn off the wall and left on the floor.  Evidence was collected and processed for fingerprints.

Video from a surveillance camera recorded Humphry forcing the three men into two separate rooms, emptying a trash can and filling it with items he stole.

Fingerprints were lifted from the mailbox and put through AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) which came back to Humphrey.

Six days after the robbery, a woman called police to say she found a plastic trash barrel in the common stairwell of her apartment building on Oct. 24, 2019, that contained documents and checkbooks from the Turkish Cultural Center.  Police also found two of the men’s cell phones in the trash can.  The woman said the next day Humphrey came to her building a number of times asking for the trash can.  She did not allow him into the building and only later learned about the burglary through news reports.

One of the men reported that his Bank of America debit card was used the day after he was robbed at the 7-Eleven in Manchester.  The transaction for $28.45 was declined because he had reported the card stolen.  Mangum viewed surveillance video of the transaction, identifying Humphrey as the person using the card.

The incidents involved in the remaining charges were:

  • Receiving stolen property and theft by deception, July 17, 2019: A friend reported he let Humphrey stay with him but he returned home from work to find Humphrey gone along with two framed jerseys. A family member found the stolen jerseys at Manchester Pawn.  They were sold to the pawnshop by a woman who was accompanied by a heavyset man with a “weightlifter build.” Employees of the pawnshop sent a photograph of the man to police who identified him as Humphrey.  The woman was paid $500 for the jerseys.  
  • Theft by unauthorized taking, Sept. 4, 2019: Humphrey shoplifted $57.65 worth of merchandise from Walmart.
  • Burglary, Oct. 13, 2019:   Humphrey broke into RJG Builders.  A week later an employee notified police that fraudulent credit card charges were made on a company credit card at Home Depot.  Police obtained video footage identifying Humphrey as the person using the credit card and charging $799.42 in merchandise to it.
  • Theft by unauthorized taking, Oct. 24, 2019:  Humphrey stole a surveillance camera from Robinson House, a sober living house.
  • Theft by unauthorized taking, Oct. 29, 2019: Humphrey shoplifted $202.94 worth of merchandise from Walmart.
  • Burglary, Nov. 13, 2019:  Police responded to DEKA for a reported burglary in which $13,000 in electronics were stolen including a MacBook, Nue Computer, printer, Surface Book and Lenovo, Dell and HP laptops. Security footage recorded Humphrey leaving the building at 1:51 am. carrying bags out the front door.

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Patrick Ives told the judge that the $13,000 amount could be far less depending on what the insurance deductible was.