Three relatives of Jody Herring found dead in Vermont the day after she killed the Child Protective Services worker who took her only child.
Police say at least two of the three women found dead at a home in Berlin Vermont Saturday morning had been shot. And investigators now say Jody Herring, the suspect arrested Friday in the murder of a DCF worker in Barre, is related to all three of the victims found in Berlin. She is the alleged perpetrator in all four murders.
The three victims were found dead by police in a home in the 3100 block of Airport Roadin Berlin Vermont about 8 a.m. Saturday, August 8, 2015, after a 911 call.
The three were killed before Sobel's life was taken.
The Berlin victims have been identified as Jody Herring's cousins, Rhonda Herring and Regina Herring, and their aunt Julie Ann Folzorano. Rhonda Herring and Regina Herring were in their 40s and Folzorano was in her 70s. Jody Herring is 40. The bodies will be sent for autopsy.
Police say a woman called 911 Saturday morning to say she discovered the bodies inside a home on Airport Road. When police arrived at the scene, they found the women dead and saw shell casings at the scene.
The home is at the corner of Airport Road and Industrial Lane, where crime scene tape surrounds the white farmhouse.
The grim discovery came just hours after a deadly shooting in Barre, where DCF worker Lara Sobel was allegedly gunned down by Herring. Police say Herring had recently lost custody of her 9-year-old child.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, issued the following statement on the developing situation in Berlin:
"The Vermont State Police are working collaboratively with the Barre and Berlin police and the investigation remains ongoing. Vermonters should know that there is no indication of a broader threat at this time to state employees or the general public. The tragedy that has gripped our state over the past 20 hours is immense. In the coming days we will need to pull together as a state to come to terms with these heinous events. My heart goes out to all the families, friends, and loved ones who have been affected by these tragedies."
The governor said he plans to hold a press conference later this evening in the Montpelier area.
Herring's 9-year-old daughter was removed from her custody by the state in July. Investigators said Herring, 40, shot social worker Lara Sobel twice Friday night outside her office, killing her. Sobel was married with children.
A woman who was upset about losing custody of her daughter used a hunting rifle to fatally shoot a child-welfare agency worker who had handled her case.
The shooting happened Friday outside a state office building in Vermont that houses the Department for Children and Families, Governor Peter Shumlin's office said.
The mother, Jody Herring, was detained by people in and around the building after the shooting, police said.
ome telephone number listed for her had been disconnected. Jody Herring will be arraigned on Monday, police said.
Barre City Mayor Thom Lauzon said the worker's shooting death was a tragedy not just for his city, which has about 10,000 residents, but for the state.
"My heart goes out to the victim and the victim's family," he said.
The Department for Children and Families worker, Lara Sobel, had been involved in a case that saw Jody Herring's 9-year-old daughter taken into state custody, officials said. Lara Sobel had just left a DCF office on Friday afternoon when she was shot twice, authorities said. Lara Sobel died at the scene.
Jody Herring was in police custody on Friday night and couldn't be reached for comment. A home telephone number listed for her had been disconnected. Jody Herring will be arraigned on Monday, police said.
The DCF has dealt with recent criticisms over its handling of cases, which prompted a new law.
A special legislative committee was set up to investigate the state child welfare system after the deaths last year of two toddlers who had been involved with DCF, 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon, of Poultney, and 15-month-old Peighton Geraw, of Winooski. Murder charges are pending against Dezirae's stepfather and Peighton's mother, who have pleaded not guilty.
The new child safety law shifts the state's priority in protecting children, focusing on their well-being instead of on an imperative to reunite them with their families.
Shumlin said DCF employees deal with challenging family situations and do their work "out of their dedication to the children and families of this great state."
"To lose one of our own in the course of that duty," he said, "is shocking and heartbreaking."
Department for Children and Families staff members were directed to go out this weekend only on emergency calls and accompanied by law enforcement.
The DCF worker's shooting happened on the last day of work for state police director Col. Tom L'Esperance, the Burlington Free Press reported. A retirement dinner for him was taking place in South Burlington, about 40 miles away, when reports of the shooting were broadcast, and troopers left to go to the scene, the newspaper said.
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