One of the suspects accused in the murder of popular St. Johnsbury teacher Melissa Jenkins allegedly confessed to her cellmates, and forensic evidence indicates the murder was premeditated. Now prosecutors have upped the charges to first-degree murder.
A ripped up note, torn into 101 pieces found by a prison guard tells the story. Inmates say the note was written by Patricia Prue herself, as they pieced it together phrases like "why we did it," "blonde hair," and "sexually attracted" came together. It's just one piece of evidence that gave prosecutors what they were looking for and could keep Patricia and Allen Prue behind bars for the rest of their lives.
Initially, the Prues faced charges of second-degree murder with a penalty of 20 years to life behind bars. Now both are charged with first-degree murder. Allen Prue faces 35 years to life. Patricia Prue faces additional charges of aggravated sexual assault. If convicted, she'll serve life with no possibility of parole.
"It must be that proof is short as it relates to him as it relates to sexual assault, odd as that may sound, because for him, to prove first-degree murder they would have to show that it was deliberate; that he had some premeditation as they say. In other words he planned to murder her," legal expert Jerry O'Neill explained.
Court documents obtained by WCAX News give chilling details of the alleged murder. Autopsy results reveal Jenkins was not only strangled, beaten and sexually assaulted; she was electrocuted by a stun gun as well. The stun gun, police say is one of the key pieces in a timeline indicating the Prues' actions were premeditated.
Investigators found a stun gun at the Prues' home consistent with electrical burns found during Jenkins autopsy. The Vermont Internet Crimes Task Force discovered the stun gun was purchased 91 days before Melissa Jenkins' death. Police also found a pay as you go cellphone purchased 56 days before the murder. After tracing calls, police determined the only call made on the disposable phone was to Jenkins, to lure her from her home.
Also neighbors say they saw Patricia Prue lingering in a car outside Jenkins home three days before her murder. And two days before, a state game warden says he saw Allen Prue at a boat launch near the site where Jenkins' body was pull from the Connecticut River.
O'Neill says prosecutors must be able to infer a sequence from these purchases and actions to prove premeditation.
"The logical sequence one could say is they plan to stun her, they plan to take sexual advantage of her, then the only thing they had left to do was to kill her and probably they have some statements from people or either or both of them that help them in that particular pursuit," O'Neill said.
Women at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility told police Prue bragged to them about the murder, saying Jenkins deserved it because she kept Allen Prue from getting plow jobs and making friends around the neighborhood.
This affidavit is filled with accounts from other inmates about Patricia Prue's flashbacks. They say Melissa Jenkins begged Prue not to hurt her and say Jenkins son, Ty, who was in the car when she was abducted, asked the man not to hurt his mommy.
Tuesday, April 15 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-16 00:08:37 GMT
Flood warnings are in effect around our region as heavy rains begin to move through. There is already localized flooding at some of the typical problem spots, like the wrong-way bridge on Route 15 inMore >>
Parts of our region are already flooding and others are bracing as heavy rains move through. Not only is rain falling fast, but warm temperatures Monday melted snow, adding to high waters.More >>
Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:06:00 GMT
A man had to be pulled from the Black River in Springfield Tuesday morning. The Hartford Fire Department says it's working to pull a man out from the river. They say he got stuck about 75 feet out inMore >>
Vermont emergency workers have rescued a man stranded in the middle of a treacherous section of river in downtown Springfield. More >>