The Associated Press
St. JOHNSBURY — A snowplow driver and his wife went to great lengths to dispose of the body of a popular teacher they had just beaten and strangled, putting her nude body on a tarp, pouring bleach on it, weighing the corpse down with concrete blocks and tossing it into the Connecticut River, court documents allege.
Allen Prue, 30, and his wife, 33-year-old Patricia Prue, were riding around when he got the idea “to get a girl,” a police affidavit said. They are accused of luring single mother Melissa Jenkins from her home by pretending their vehicle had broken down. Her vehicle was found idling Sunday with her unharmed 2-year-old son inside. The child apparently witnessed at least part of the attack.
The couple pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the death of Jenkins, a 33-year-old science teacher at the prestigious St. Johnsbury Academy, and unauthorized burial or removal of a dead body. More charges are possible, police said.
People in the close-knit communities of northeastern Vermont had been speculating about the crime and who was responsible.
“But they didn’t expect the gruesome” details, said a tearful Marion Beattie Cairns, the owner of The Creamery Restaurant, where Jenkins had worked part-time as a waitress and people had gathered since her disappearance to console each other.
Vermont State Police Maj. Ed Ledo said he hoped the arrests would bring closure for Jenkins’ family and friends.
“We can now turn our full attention to healing from this tragic loss, celebrating Melissa’s life and mourning her death,” said Joe Healy, a spokesman for St. Johnsbury Academy, which will hold a memorial service for her on Friday.
Police said the Prues hadn’t planned a use of force. But they gave few details on a possible motive in Jenkins’ death. The Prues were ordered held without bail.
“They knew Miss Jenkins and had snowplowed her driveway a couple of years ago,” Vermont State Police Maj. Ed Ledo said at a news conference announcing the arrests.
A friend told police that Allen Prue had asked Jenkins out a couple of times and that she felt uncomfortable around him, according to the documents. She stopped having him plow, and in autumn 2011 he showed up drunk at her home asking if he could plow her driveway the following year.
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