West Danville and the surrounding towns are a series of small, tight-knit communities. Rodney Hill, 37, grew up here. Hill graduated from Danville High School and at one point owned a welding shop in town. It's a place where everyone knows each other.
"I don't think I would say I felt threatened by him at any point, no. But I did feel that you didn't want to do anything to arouse him," said Jeff Downs of Joe's Pond Country Store.
Today, Hill sits in a jail cell accused of second-degree murder. Police say he repeatedly stabbed a hotel guest Monday night in Littleton, N.H. Both Hill and the victim, Kitty Houghton, 70, of California, were staying at the hotel.
Hill was a frequent customer at Joe's Pond Country Store. Those who knew him said he was friendly. He has no prior criminal history. But acquaintances said he did have a nasty temper and a short fuse.
"Rodney could overreact to regular events of life, but to go randomly, apparently randomly murder some poor woman is a shock," Downs said.
The tragedy has had a devastating impact at the White Mountains school in Bethlehem, N.H. Houghton's connection to the school goes back more than five decades. No one was in the position to speak on camera Wednesday. However, friends of Houghton did tell me that she was a loving and active member of this community.
Houghton was in the area for a board meeting. She was a trustee at the school. We still don't know why Hill was renting a room, given that the hotel is just over half an hour from his home. Prosecutors say the deadly encounter, which took place in the hotel lobby, appears to be random act. Downs says that has frightened one of his employees.
"She said she had been crying since yesterday, since she had heard about this. And I said, 'What are you so upset about?' And she said, 'It could have been any of us,'" Downs said.
Hill is due in court next week for a probable cause hearing. At that time more details, including a motive, may be revealed and shed more light on a crime that's rocked this small town.
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