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Unsolved murder leaves void in Sheffield - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Unsolved murder leaves void in Sheffield

Sheffield, Vermont - September 5, 2011

Residents of Sheffield are trying to move forward. But nearly a year after 78-year-old Pat O'Hagan's murder, Sheffield's annual field days feel a little different.

"Basically, everyone in town is thinking that. Pat was here a year ago and no one expected anything to be any different," said Patrick Ham, the Town Moderator.

But four days later this small town was turned upside down. Police say the beloved grandmother and avid community activist was kidnapped from her home. The disappearance prompted a massive manhunt that lasted nearly three weeks and changed this close-knit community forever.

"You think you're safe in a little town. So, it's changed the culture a bit," Ham said.

Parents now hold their kids a bit closer and strangers turn heads more than they used to.

"We're trying to keep going and doing things that we know she would like everyone to do and trying to keep our spirits up because that's the way she was," said Audrey Richardson, a friend of O'Hagan.

And that's the way this community will remember her. A granite bench outside the historical society now bears her name. Pat O'Hagan's photo graced parade floats and t-shirts. She was the Field Day Fiddle contest's biggest fan and friends say she would want the local kids to keep popping balloons, dipping candy apples and running around in the rain.

But for Audrey Richardson, she can't help but remember that her friend is no longer by her side serving chicken, because of an unsolved violent crime. "Maybe next year will be better. I don't know. It's difficult to describe the feelings," she said.

Many in town echo her frustration. Nearly one year later and still no answers. "It's still upsetting not to know what happened, who did it or anything like that. But we think about her a lot and talk about her and miss her," said David Burke, the local Postmaster.

"We still would like closure and hopefully it will come one day," Richardson said.

That closure may begin as soon as Friday. The Vermont State Police plan to hold a press conference at 2 p.m. at town hall. But at this point it's unclear just what they'll reveal about their investigation.

Jennifer Reading - WCAX News

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