Police: Highgate couple on the run following homicide

Published: May. 7, 2018 at 12:24 PM EDT
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A search is underway for two people wanted in connection with a murder in Highgate. Erika Guttilla, 31, is wanted for murder. Police believe she is with her boyfriend, Corey Cassani, 28, and that he is also linked to the case.

This all stems from the discovery of human remains over the weekend in a wooded area in Highgate. Police on Monday identified the victim as Troy Ford, 35.

The suspects' car was found in Swanton Monday afternoon but the trail for Guttilla and Cassani has gone cold. Investigators were busy all day Monday collecting evidence at a home on Charles Circle in Highgate. Police say this is where Erika Guttilla shot and killed her boyfriend.

"It's unnerving for sure," said Debra Kirkpatrick, a Highgate mom.

Neighbors were shocked when state troopers arrived on their street.

Police say Erika Guttilla killed Troy Ford at the house several months ago. Ford's body was dumped nearby.

"Obviously the charges here are very serious," Vt. State Police Capt. J.P. Sinclair said.

Sinclair said Guttilla and Cassani were last seen in Franklin County between 24 and 48 hours ago. Police found the red 2013 Chevy Spark the two were believed to using in Swanton Monday afternoon. But they don't know if the suspects are down the road or out of the country. That's why they need people to be on the lookout.

"It's very helpful to have all the eyes out there in the public that supply information to us," Sinclair said.

Neighbors say they didn't know the family well. In the cul-de-sac neighborhood, that's unusual.

"The fact that they kept to themselves a lot and there was a lot of people coming and going, different cars. Maybe it should have been something that we paid attention more to," Kirkpatrick said.

The mom of two says she's reassured by the police presence but she's keeping her kids inside for now.

She says Erika Guttilla and Troy Ford would walk down the street to cool off.

"They argue a lot," Kirkpatrick said. "You can hear them yelling a lot, but it's not unusual for young couples to argue."


Monday, one of the people police say was involved in the crime was in court. Carmen Guttilla, 60, is charged with aiding in the commission of a felony. The court paperwork has new details about what police say she did after her daughter pulled the trigger.

Carmen Guttilla is accused of aiding her daughter, Erika, and Corey Cassani in a shooting plot. She denied the charge in court.

The court paperwork helps piece together what investigators say led up to Troy Ford's death.

Police were first alerted to the alleged crime back in April after an ex-boyfriend told them Erika had bragged about shooting and killing a black man and showed him the garbage bin with the body inside.

But investigators say the murder happened back in November. They say the plot was between Carmen and Erika-- mother and daughter both angry after months of alleged physical, verbal and sexual abuse by Ford against Erika. Carmen allegedly told police Ford was terrorizing their family and he had to go.

Carmen told investigators one day she was "at a boiling point" and "could not take it anymore," and that's when she took out her gun. She told investigators Erika said, "I want to do it."

She allegedly told police that after Ford passed out from drinking, Erika shot him in the head. The two of them stashed his body in a garbage can on the back porch of the house on Charles Circle. It remained there until at least January. After that, Carmen allegedly told police Erika and her new boyfriend, Corey Cassani, moved the body after Erika told someone else about the shooting.

Saturday, police say Ford's body was found in the wooded area off Darlene Drive. And a tattoo on the man's arm identified him as Troy Ford.

Carmen Guttilla is being held without bail pending a bail hearing.

"Other defendants are still at large at the present time who could aid the defendant in her escape," Franklin County Deputy Prosecutor John Lavoie said.

Carmen Guttilla and her husband, Michael, both live at the home. So far, Michael Guttilla is not facing any charges in this case.

Erika Guttilla is a white woman, 5-feet-6 inches tall, 120 lbs., with green eyes and blonde hair. Corey Cassani is a white man, 5-feet-9 inches tall, 165 lbs., with brown eyes and brown hair. Police say the couple should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information should call Vermont State Police in St. Albans at 802-524-5993.