Police say it was a phone call and a business card that led investigators to the home of Allen and Patricia Prue. The couple is accused of killing high school science teacher Melissa Jenkins, 33.
Allen Prue, 30, of Waterford, was arraigned first, followed by his wife, Patricia Prue, 33. Both are charged with second-degree murder. The couple pleaded not guilty and the judge ordered them held without bail.
"Based on the affidavit in support of the charge, the court finds that the evidence of guilt is great," Vt. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Manley said.
Police say the Prues used to plow Jenkins' driveway and investigators found Allen Prue's business card on her kitchen counter. But Jenkins' apparently cut ties with the couple last fall after Allen Prue showed up drunk and asked Jenkins out on a date.
Prue's wife denies playing any role in Jenkins' murder, but according to court paperwork, Allen Prue told police his wife lured Jenkins out of her home with a phone call, saying they were having car trouble and needed her help. Allen Prue told police it was a trick and he was really out to "get a girl," presumably for romantic purposes.
"It was determined by the chief medical examiner, Dr. Stephen Shapiro, that the cause of Miss Jenkins death was the result of strangulation," Vt. State Police Maj. Ed Ledo said.
Police say Jenkins 2-year-old son saw what happened. He was found in the car on Goss Hollow Road, safe, late Sunday night.
Prue confessed to strangling Jenkins, loading her into the backseat of their car with his wife-- who he says choked her until she stopped breathing. The Prues allegedly took Jenkins back to their home on Old County Road in Waterford, laid her on a tarp and stripped off her clothing, as well as their own. Allen told police he doused Jenkins' beaten body with bleach before weighing her down with cinder blocks and dumping her in a shallow part of the Connecticut River in Barnet. He told police he burned all the clothes.
"That's pretty shocking. I would have never guessed anything like that," said Ed Poginy, who owns a local deli.
The gruesome details of Jenkins' murder is just too much for some in town.
"It's hard to deal with," said Robert Jenks of St. Johnsbury. "It is."
For now they're taking what comfort they can in the fact that the suspects in their beloved teacher's death are behind bars.
"I think it's a relief," Jenks said. "I think it kind of takes a lot of fear out of the town."
"I just hope that these people are put away forever who committed this crime," said Jeanne Hale of St. Johnsbury.
Many viewers have asked us why the Prues not charged with first-degree murder. Legal analysts tell us there would need to be evidence the crime was premeditated or committed during the commission of another felony to warrant the more severe charge. And it's possible prosecutors could up the charge at a later date.
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