Shell casing case closed

‘No leads, or suspects at this time,’ police report states.

O.B. Police have ended their investigation into shell casings found in the former town health agent’s tote bag. — Rich Saltzberg

What was perceived as a death threat by former Oak Bluffs health agent Meegan Lancaster remains a mystery to Oak Bluffs Police following an investigation. Lancaster, who said she had been drawing some vituperative criticism over work the board of health had been doing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulations, found 10mm shell casings in her personal tote bag while at home on Feb. 5. She left the job not long after the discovery.

Lancaster previously told The Times she didn’t know why anyone might place shell casings in her bag, but her chief suspicion was that it might be related to the PFAS work of the board of health, or the high school track and field project, which has been engulfed in debate about PFAS. A police report indicates she’d drawn social media criticism due to her pandemic work. Lancaster said the tote had been at work with her at temporary town hall, interconnected trailers used while a heavy remodel of the town hall was underway. 

Lancaster reported the shell casings to Oak Bluffs Police on Feb. 6. 

“Lancaster explained that she was able to view video footage from the Town Hall and did not observe anything out of the ordinary in regard to people going into her office,” a report states. “Lancaster stated the only person she knows with guns is her friend’s husband. Lancaster asked her friend’s husband about the rounds, and learned that he does not own a gun that uses 10mm ammunition. Lancaster then stated there is a hate-style Facebook group about her due to her being the health agent for Oak Bluffs. Lancaster stated from doing her duties related to COVID some people have developed a dislike for her. Lancaster stated she had screenshots from this group.” 

In an interview with Det. Timothy Millerick and Sgt. Daniel Cassidy on Feb. 8, police first focused on the bag and the discovery of the casings. 

“This is a bag that she has used from time to time, but it was last in her office around Christmas,” a report states. “I asked Lancaster if she picked up the shell casings with her bare hands, and she stated she did, and her husband did as well. Lancaster said, ‘I didn’t realize what they were until I moved the flap at the bottom of the bag.’ Lancaster stated that she has been vomiting from this, and feels attacked over all the backlash from her job as the Oak Bluffs board of health agent. Lancaster has dealt with controversial issues recently in regard to the turf field project, and dealing with the COVID pandemic. Lancaster stated that she received the tote bag from her mother. Her mother received it from one of the foster dog organizations on the Island.”

Lancaster’s mother won the bag in a raffle, according to a report. When asked if the casings could have been in the bag under a flap from the beginning, a report states that Lancaster believed they could have been, but “thinks that they were placed at a later time.” 

The report further indicates Lancaster believed somebody may have been looking around her office.

“Lancaster stated that her office was unable to lock until around Christmas, and that she felt like some of her belongings were being moved around. Because of this, Lancaster secured the turf field file in another office that was secured. Lancaster now has keys to secure her office, but works from home mostly,” a report states. 

“In Lancaster’s written statement,” a report states, “she stated that she had checked camera footage of the time frame, and didn’t observe anything out of the ordinary. It should be noted that the tote bag has not been in the office since around Christmas, and they were located on February 5, 2022.”

Det. Millerick asked Lancaster “if anyone who had come to the house had a firearm, and she stated ‘No,’” a report states. Det. Millerick also asked Lancaster “if she had possibly gone shooting with someone who may have had that caliber round,” a report states. “Lancaster stated that she has not gone shooting since she moved to the Island.”

On Feb. 23, Det. Millerick went on to interview Lancaster’s administrative assistant, the assistant town administrator, and the town administrator, and didn’t come up with much to go on. Det. Millerick asked the administrative assistant if the raffled tote bag was from an animal shelter she was associated with. She said it wasn’t. 

“The administrative assistant was asked about this because she works for another animal shelter, and … her husband is the VP of the Rod and Gun Club,” a report states. The administrative assistant “stated that her husband doesn’t have that caliber round.”

Det. Millerick reached out to two people licensed to sell guns and ammunition on the Vineyard, Acting Lt. Nicholas Curelli told The Times. Det. Millerick’s report indicates he didn’t find anyone going back six months prior who might have bought such ammunition. 

In his interview with the assistant town administrator, Det. Millerick learned town hall and the police department shared the same cleaning person, who was described as “very trustworthy.”

The assistant town administrator told Det. Millerick that she was unsure if all offices in the temporary town hall were keyed alike. 

She further stated “that several offices were left unlocked because the main building was always secure,” a report states, and “her office was always locked because she is in charge of all the human resource files.”

The assistant town administrator also told Det. Millerick there weren’t any cameras inside the temporary town hall. 

Det. Millerick spoke with a representative of the animal shelter the tote allegedly came from. No actionable information appears to have been found from that conversation. 

“Based on the information given and the wide timeline of events, I have found no leads, or suspects at this time,” a report states. “I have informed Lancaster of the same. Lancaster agreed and thanked me for my efforts.”

Acting Lt. Curelli told The Times the case was “closed pending any new information. Any new information germane to it will open it back up.”

Lancaster couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the police investigation. 



  1. Another fine job by our local constabulary… can’t catch a criminal in their own building, why would we expect them to catch one in the public domain. This department along with their sister town Tisbury, need some seriously professional overhauling before they are trusted to do anything other than stand on the side of the road and wave traffic through.

  2. Mr. Johnson, as usual, we can count on you for a generous portion of criticism, regardless of the topic, as long as it involves the police on the Island. If I didn’t like to say things without proof I would think you were a disgruntled and frustrated ( former) police officer yourself.

  3. A few weeks ago I cautioned against jumping to conclusions and letting the facts come to light before making judgments. I was called “sexist” by one of the more strident voices in these commentaries. Of course this person won’t apologize, even though the facts are pointing towards a false alarm.

    • Hi Alex. My name is MacGregor Anderson. I am Meegan’s husband. I don’t agree that this was a false alarm. 10mm shell casings don’t magically fall from the sky. I also believe my wife’s interpretation of the situation was reasonable given all the facts we know and you do not. She reported this after some hesitation and we never expected the police to figure out who did it. We appreciate the efforts the detective made and aren’t at all surprised by the outcome of the investigation. Meegan wants to be done with this and I respect that, but it does bother me when people assume she acted “hysterically”. Let me make you this offer. I will meet with you in person and share facts that haven’t appeared here or anywhere. Then let you draw your own conclusions. I would only ask that you write here again and say either you were right all along, or given what you now know, Meegan acted reasonably. I will trust you to do the right thing. I am easy to get ahold of. I also won’t disclose your real name since I do respect the value of anonymous commentary.

      • It is my perception that the way the media coverage played out it presented a skewed narrative, however I’m willing to take on good faith your side of the story, it sounds like there’s a lot to the average reader never got to understand to get a full picture. Much peace to you and your family

        • Alex Keane: No, the media absolutely did not present a skewed narrative of anything. You had an uncalled for but not surprising reaction to the facts you and all of us were given. Your response now is disingenuous and unrepentant, blaming the newspaper for your own typically misogynistic response to a legitimately frightening situation by a female who was treated abominably on the job for doing her job. And your first reaction here was to feel validated (for being wrong) and whine about wanting an apology? But then you cave when put on the spot (by a man), bow out, accept you’re wrong, and pretend it was someone else’s fault (the media) that you got it wrong? Own it.

          Why does McGregor Anderson say he “won’t disclose your real name”? Anonymous commentary is not allowed here.

        • Thank you Alex. I appreciate your consideration here. It was a very difficult situation and there is no roadmap for how to react. We hope to move on to better days, and given all that is going on in the world, we consider this incident, while quite frightening, to be minor compared to what many are going through. I hope everyone can show a bit more civility and restraint while supporting their ideals…we could all use the break.

    • Alex, I have it from a reliable source (my 6 year old granddaughter) that the wait time for something you’re never gonna get is not affected by whining about it. Holding one’s breath and stamping one’s feet also does not work, according to my source.

      FYI, this person, moi, does not apologize for noticing misogyny. “Strident” is better than “shrill” and “hysterics”, but not by much, lol.

  4. An inconclusive investigation and a false alarm are two very different animals. These were casings, not some harmless, commonplace item that you might expect to fall into a tote bag. Meegan Lancaster absolutely did the right thing by reporting them to the police. It’s a terrible shame that she was made to feel unsafe and that she has to deal with unreasonable levels of criticism simply for doing her job. Many have spoken highly of her professionalism and character. I really appreciate those willing to make tough calls for the good of the community, especially during a pandemic.

  5. The case was a nonstarter from the beginning. The duration of time and evidence contamination, through no fault of the victim, made a conclusive determination difficult. The fear of Ms. Lancaster is real and should not be discounted. The intimidation of a public official when they’re easy prey is not new to the Vineyard. It can take many forms. It’s time for the sleuths to move on and trust Lt. Curelli’s judgement. If there’s anything to pursue, he’ll make it happen.

    • Thank you, Paul. The questioning/suggestion that was really victim-blaming was insulting and entirely out of place here. The lack of ownership and accountability for it adds insult to injury.

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