Police erected a canopy and sheeting to prevent public view of the woman who was killed in the parking lot of the Green Mountain Mall in St. Johnsbury just before 10 a.m. Monday.
Police initially released few details, revealing only that a woman was the victim of a homicide and a male suspect was arrested soon after the crime. Police say they found the suspect in nearby woods after an apparent suicide attempt. The names of the victim and suspect were being withheld.
But relatives confirmed that the victim was Anna Berwick, 45, of St. Johnsbury, and the suspect is her estranged husband Benjamin Berwick, 49, of Lyndon. Neighbors and relatives say they were told by police that Anna Berwick was stabbed and that Benjamin Berwick shot himself once in the stomach.
Police confirmed the names of the victim and suspect just before 5:30 p.m.
"She was a very good neighbor," Krystal Collins said. "We would go over in the summertime and talk to her. And she would come and talk to us. She was really sweet."
Collins says she knew the Berwicks' marriage was troubled.
"I knew there was a lot of physical and emotional abuse. Lots of it," Collins said. "But I had no idea he was capable of anything like this."
Court records show that Anna Berwick obtained a final relief from abuse order just two weeks ago that forced her husband to move out of their mobile home. In her affidavit, Berwick claims she was often nauseous with fear because her husband terrorized and brutalized her constantly, including burning her skin with her own urine, raping her and locking her in her home to prevent her from seeing or speaking with anyone other than him.
Anna Berwick's brother, John Conley, says he rarely saw his sister, but her violent death was not a total surprise.
"Not really. We had a party a few days ago and we had discussed they was getting a divorce and someone said we haven't nailed that down yet. Someone said he threatened to kill her," Conley said.
Benjamin Berwick is in stable condition at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon, N.H.
Police say they are still investigating the homicide and it is unclear what charges Benjamin Berwick could face and when he will be arraigned.
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