July 2 marks exactly one year since investigators found the body of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett buried in a shallow grave in Randolph. News of her murder came as a devastating shock to her family who held out hope during the one week search that she would be found alive.
A year later Brooke's parents are still struggling with the reality that she is gone, but both have also channeled their grief toward positive changes.
Her father, Jim Bennett, wears a purple bracelet and a pin bearing a smiling portrait of Brooke every day to keep her close. Purple was her favorite color. Jim says he cannot believe a year has passed.
"I still keep expecting the phone to ring and her be on the other end," he says.
Jim visits his daughter's grave several times a month. It sits alone in a quiet corner of a cemetery in Royalton, marked by a beautiful stone donated by local companies. Friends and family members have left letters and gifts.
Shortly after his daughter's murder Jim established the Brooke Bennett Memorial Foundation. He hopes to raise enough money for a scholarship in her honor and to buy a kit that he can take to schools that will make fingerprint and ID cards for kids.
"It will give me something else to focus on," he says. "And it'll help other people, give them information they may need someday."
While Brooke's father chose to deal with his grief privately and channel his efforts towards the Brooke Bennett foundation, her mother went public, working with the legislature to pass tough new sex offender laws.
"I've seen it on the news where they say, 'This person's been charged with Brooke's Law,' and I'm like, 'Go get em girl!'," says Cassandra Adams.
Cassandra says she still struggles with guilt over allowing Brooke to spend time around her accused killer, Michael Jacques, who is also a convicted sex offender.
"I still haven't forgave myself," she says.
Cassandra recently got two tattoos as a way to keep her daughter with her. She now has Brooke's name permanently etched on her wrist. On her leg, she proudly displays a poem: If tears could build a stairway in memory's lane I'd walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.
"That's so when people read it I can tell them that's what I would do," says Cassandra. "Because if I had stairs right now I would, if it took me a year to walk up there, I would do it and bring her back."
Both Brooke's mother and father are anxious for her accused killer's trial to start. Jim says he is eager to know everything he can about how and why his daughter was murdered. Cassandra is eager for the day she can confront Michael Jacques in court.
"I want that opportunity to face him and tell him exactly what I think," she says.
Jim says he has nothing to say Jacques.
"I think I'd be better off to stay away and let the system take care of him."
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:33:15 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:04 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:04:45 GMT
Darn Tough appears to be making a darn good profit. The high-end sock manufacturer out of Northfield reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever, with revenues up almost 80 percent over theMore >>
Vermont sock manufacturer Darn Tough reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever.More >>