Burlington police held another media briefing Wednesday, as they hope the public can help them solved the murder of 50-year-old Kathleen Smith.
"She was killed during a violent attack," Burlington Police Lt. Jennifer Morrison said.
Investigators believe Smith was murdered sometime between last Thursday and Saturday. Forest rangers on routine patrol found her 2000 Hyundai Sonata abandoned in a remote wooded area in Hancock over the weekend-- 60 miles southeast of Burlington. Police hope someone recognizes the distinct stickers on the back of the car and may remember seeing it in Vermont late last week or over the weekend.
"We are interested in any reports of hitchhikers or stranded motorists between here and Hancock between that time frame," Morrison said.
Police have not said if they have any suspects in the case yet.
"As in any investigation we are going to cast a very wide net. We are going to explore any connection she may have personally, professionally or otherwise to any member of the community. Could her work have something to do with this case? Sure it could, but we are going to explore all avenues," Morrison said.
"There is certainly a general concern of grief and sympathy and concern," said Todd Centybear of the Howard Center.
Smith worked at the Howard Center-- the county's mental health provider-- for the past 16 years. Most recently she worked at one of the center's residential homes.
"She's an employee who really was a model for our organization. She worked very hard, she's considered an anchor in her program, very energetic, very responsible," Centybear said. "Clients loved her. She imbued in them a sense of hope and joy."
While police have not said if Smith's killer may have been a patient at the Howard Center, officials there say police have not asked them to be on heightened alert.
"Police have given us no reason to suggest we take extra precautions, or that our staff or clients are at risk, any greater than the community," Centybear said.
Police are no longer searching for the person pictured in surveillance photos they released Tuesday. That's because they now say the photos are actually of the victim herself, Kathleen Smith. They say recent changes in Smith's appearance, the angle of the camera and the lighting made it difficult to identify Smith in those photos. Police say viewers and family members helped confirm it was Smith.