Burlington Police say they have made a major break in a Burlington murder investigation-- they've identified a suspect they plan to charge with killing Kathleen Smith.
"I do feel safer. It is still shocking though. I think there is still fear, the whole thing was mind blowing," said Candice Cupp, referring to the news that police believe they know who killed her neighbor, 50-year-old Kathleen Smith. "I saw it on the news earlier today. It shocked me very much, it resembled very much the guy I saw last Thursday," she said.
Cupp thinks she saw 45-year-old Jose Pazos outside Smith's home midday last Thursday. Police believe the single mother of one was murdered after a break-in at her home on Park Street in the Old North End later that evening. "Miss Smith appears to have died from trauma to her neck and throat," said Burlington Police Chief Mike Schirling.
Smith's car was found abandoned sixty miles away in the Green Mountain National Forest in Hancock the next day. For days, police continued to search that section of Addison County for clues. They got a break in the case after a burglary was reported at the Middlebury College Snowbowl in Ripton, just a few miles from where the car was found. Sunday afternoon police found Pazos hiding under some equipment and debris on site. "They saw a backpack and then out of the corner of someone's eye they saw some movement under a pile equipment and debris and happened to locate him as a result of that," Schirling said.
Pazos was taken into custody on the burglary charge without incident. Police say he and Smith have known each other for more than a decade, but they aren't releasing a motive for the murder of the avid gardener and artist, but say it does not appear to be robbery. Police believe it will be a few days before Pazos is officially charged with Smith's murder because they still have evidence to analyze and interviews to conduct.
Meanwhile - a memorial outside Smith's home continues to grow. People who never met her still stop by to pay their respect. "It is so difficult to deal with a death by violence, particularly of a woman who was so peaceful and generous. They are having a real difficult time knowing why this happened," said Burlington resident Susan Mack.
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