Suspect in Greenfield slaying to be arraigned

Taaniel Herberger-Brown, the suspect in a Greenfield killing, appears for an extradition hearing May 31 before Judge William Little in Albany (N.Y.) County Court.

Taaniel Herberger-Brown, the suspect in a Greenfield killing, appears for an extradition hearing May 31 before Judge William Little in Albany (N.Y.) County Court. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 07-08-2024 5:47 PM

GREENFIELD — More than two months since police found the body of Christopher Hairston, 35, of Pittsfield, decomposing inside a Rubbermaid-style trash bin in 42-year-old Taaniel Herberger-Brown’s Chapman Street apartment, the suspect will be arraigned in Greenfield District Court Tuesday morning on a murder charge.

On Monday, Massachusetts State Police traveled to New York, took custody of Herberger-Brown, and transported him to Greenfield. He will be held overnight at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction pending his arraignment Tuesday morning.

Herberger-Brown, a 1999 Northampton High School graduate, was arrested April 23 at the Albany International Airport, one day after a report of a foul odor brought police to Hairston’s body at 92 Chapman St. Herberger-Brown was held in a New York detention facility until Friday, June 28, when he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

Herberger-Brown reportedly told investigators he planned to visit his mother outside of the country, and suggested several different locations he might travel to, including Vancouver, Germany, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The police report states that he initially told authorities he had been in and out of hospitals and hadn’t been back at his apartment in months. Later, he told investigators he got into a physical fight with someone who had broken into his home.

Toward the end of the altercation, Herberger-Brown told police that the victim’s “heart stopped.”

A four-year honor roll student and U.S. Navy veteran, Herberger-Brown has had earlier brushes with the law, such as an incident in February 2008, when he was arrested on kidnapping and assault charges in Northampton for allegedly “keeping his girlfriend against her will in a hotel bathroom while holding a broken ceramic dish to her neck,” according to a Gazette report.

Herberger-Brown also had a reputation in the community as an altruistic member of society. He was featured in a 2021 Washington Post article for his volunteer work at Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield. Executive Director and Chef Kirsten Levitt described him at the time as a “respected and cared-for member of [the] community.” She said Herberger-Brown would volunteer at Stone Soup Cafe almost every week.

Northwestern First Assistant District Attorney Steven E. Gagne will be handling the arraignment for the commonwealth. Herberger-Brown will be represented by Springfield attorney Nicholas Horgan.

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Gagne said the DA’s office has been working around the clock to gather evidence in Herberger-Brown’s case.

“The investigation has remained very active and ongoing,” Gagne previously said. “The lead investigator and myself have been working on this case pretty much every day since [Herberger-Brown’s arrest]. We’re interviewing additional witnesses and we’re gathering additional evidence. I would say things are proceeding very well.”

Horgan previously declined to comment on his client’s case. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.