- Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice
- Nicholas Languerand posted this selfie on Twitter
This "backstory" is a part of a collection of articles that describes some of the obstacles that Seven Days reporters faced while pursuing Vermont news, events and people in 2022.
Late last year, we learned from a jailhouse letter that a Vermonter had been arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Our reporting revealed that Nicholas Languerand had spent months before and after the 2020 presidential election hunkered down in his Wolcott trailer, immersed in bizarre online conspiracy theories about child trafficking and voter fraud.
We thought it'd be helpful to see for ourselves the place where Languerand had adopted the far-fetched ideas that drove him to act.
Related Capitol Offense: Nicholas Languerand's Quest for 'Belonging' Led Him to QAnon, the Insurrection — and Now Prison
On a cold Saturday in January, my colleague Derek Brouwer and I drove out to Wolcott. Once we reached the small rural town, our phones lost service. So we stopped at the only place that was open, the local general store, to ask for directions (and grab some bags of chips).
The two women working that day had never heard of the dirt road Languerand lived on. One called her husband to ask if he knew how to get there; the other pulled up a map on her phone, which luckily had service.
Before we left, we asked if they knew of Languerand or his arrest. We were surprised to learn that they hadn't heard anything.
The riot and the subsequent prosecutions had been the country's biggest news story since it happened, a year ago. Yet word of a local man's involvement still hadn't made its way to the most reliable information exchange in his own hometown.
Once we found Languerand's trailer, we were struck by just how desolate it was. The place was run-down and had a bullet-ridden car chassis in the yard and a punching bag hanging from a tree branch out front. It was hard to imagine a place further removed from the U.S. Capitol.
A few days later, Brouwer flew to Washington, D.C., to observe Languerand's sentencing on a charge of assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon. Our editor, Matthew Roy, suspected pro-Trump groups might protest the proceedings, so he arranged for a local photographer to stake out the courthouse.
Languerand and his fellow rioters had been held up by the right as persecuted patriots and, by some twisted logic, American heroes. But when it came time for a judge to determine Languerand's sentence, his only courtroom supporters amounted to his public defender and his grandparents from South Carolina, who wouldn't grant Brouwer an interview.
After two long days on the road, tracking this young man's history and connections, our notebooks were basically empty. Those blank pages, in a way, told us quite a bit.