Northeast Kingdom man pleads not guilty to killing girlfriend - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Northeast Kingdom man pleads not guilty to killing girlfriend

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Carleton Bickford Carleton Bickford
Rachel Coburn Rachel Coburn

Police say Carlton Bickford, 76, turned himself in Saturday morning, confessing he killed his girlfriend, Rachel Coburn, 72, with a double-barreled shotgun.

"What we do know from the defendant himself was that he told detectives that he was at the residence of Ms. Coburn earlier in the day, they had some sort of argument, he went to his son's house and retrieved a weapon, he went to his own house, retrieved some shells, and eventually went back and shot her," Orleans County Prosecutor Alan Franklin said.

Bickford told police when he returned to Coburn's home at 17 West Street with the gun, Coburn threatened to turn him in for attempted murder. He then told her if he couldn't have her, nobody could. Police say Bickford then shot Coburn once in the abdomen. He then attempted to take his own life, but the bullet grazed his shoulder and he suffered only minor injuries.

"It was quite shocking to all the neighbors and the folks in town, both in Glover and in Barton," Franklin said.

Court papers show Bickford described his four-year relationship with Coburn as romantic, but later said they were just "keeping company." His wife and son were aware of the affair. Police say Bickford's wife asked Coburn to cut all ties to Bickford, but the affair became deadly before Coburn could escape. If convicted, Bickford now faces life imprisonment with a minimum of 35 years.

"The statute indicates anytime there's a penalty of life imprisonment and the evidence of guilt is great, the defendant may be held without bail," Franklin said.

Speaking with residents, it was clear that many people are devastated by the loss of a community member and friend. No one was ready to talk about the incident on camera.

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