A local man is being held without bail after police said he strangled a Rutland woman to death March 5 in his Rutland home.
Shawn Michael LaPlant, 28, pleaded not guilty Friday in Rutland criminal court to a felony count of second-degree murder for allegedly killing 44-year-old Alicia Harrington.
The charge carries a minimum mandatory penalty of 20 years and a maximum term of life in prison.
Detective Sgt. Samuel Truex, of the Vermont State Police, said in an affidavit that Harrington’s husband, Jaime Harrington, learned in October that Harrington and LaPlant had a sexual relationship at one point.
According to a police affidavit, a person close to the suspect told police on Thursday that LaPlant admitted the murder to her after telling her he wanted to “vent.”
The person “advised (LaPlant) told her that he was going to sell weed to Alicia that day and they got into an argument. (LaPlant) told Alicia, ‘If I can’t have you, nobody can,’ and then he ‘strangled’ her,” Truex wrote in the affidavit.
An acquaintance of LaPlant’s told police Thursday that LaPlant also admitted the murder to him, according to the affidavit.
“(LaPlant) stated that he and Harrington fought for approximately 15 minutes on (LaPlant’s) bed and then he choked her until her lips turned blue,” Truex wrote in the affidavit.
The acquaintance allegedly told police that LaPlant had described putting Harrington’s body into a sleeping bag, which he used to take her from his home and put her in her own car. LaPlant drove Harrington’s body in her 2004 Subaru Impreza to Proctor, where he left her body locked in the car.
Police found the car, with Harrington’s body locked inside, on March 6 after it was reported by a Florence man. The affidavit said the car was locked and no keys were nearby. The acquaintance told police LaPlant had described throwing the car key into the woods and discarding the sleeping bag.
Police said in the affidavit that a sleeping bag was found less than half a mile from the car.
During LaPlant’s arraignment, Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy said a key was found Friday morning that police officials believe was the key to Harrington’s Impreza.
A supplemental affidavit described some of the search history found on LaPlant’s phone. Among the pages were searches about chloroform and where it can be found; a page called, “Chloroform: How the ‘Knockout Drug’ Has Been Used to Murder Over the Last 25 Years”; a web search under the question, “If you inject gasoline, how long will it take to kill you?”; a search called, “Delete Your Google Account”; “What happens to someone if you inject chloroform into their neck?”; and “13 Signs You Are Being Used by a Woman Who’s Walking All Over You.”
Kennedy said during LaPlant’s arraignment that the search history suggested “this was something that was planned before March 5.”
Police said in the affidavit that the acquaintance agreed to wear a wire and speak with LaPlant on Thursday.
“(The acquaintance) spoke with (LaPlant) about (Harrington’s) juvenile son, not knowing how (LaPlant) stays in the apartment and sleeps in his bed after what happened. (LaPlant) told (the acquaintance), ‘I really don’t want to talk too much about it.’ …. During discussion, (LaPlant) made no denials to (the acquaintance) nor did he provide any information, details or direct admissions,” Truex wrote. Kennedy said the acquaintance might have implicated himself by telling police he helped LaPlant dispose of items belonging to Harrington while police were investigating her death.
Police interviewed LaPlant in the driveway at 260 West St. on March 6. He talked about being a friend of Harrington but denied having a sexual relationship. In an interview on Thursday, LaPlant again denied having a sexual relationship with Harrington and denied having told anyone he strangled her.
Truex said Jaime Harrington told police his wife continued to buy marijuana from LaPlant after they ended their affair, but around the end of November, LaPlant allegedly threatened to kill her and himself.
Truex wrote in the affidavit that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Harrington was strangled and her death was a homicide, but that information has not been released to the public.
Truex said Jaime Harrington called the Rutland City Police Department on March 5 to report Alicia as missing.
“Jaime reported that his wife did not pick their child up from the Tapestry afterschool program, and she has not been heard from. Jaime advised this behavior was out of character for Alicia and he was concerned for her well-being,” the affidavit said.
According to Jaime Harrington, LaPlant was the last person his wife called.
Attorney Chris Montgomery, who represented LaPlant, asked Judge Thomas Zonay to release his client, even though LaPlant faces life imprisonment if convicted, because he had local ties, no criminal record and the statements in the affidavit were hearsay.
Zonay ordered LaPlant held at the Rutland jail until a hearing can be scheduled to determine whether LaPlant will be given a chance to be released pending the resolution of the charges. On Friday afternoon, the court records indicated that hearing had not yet been scheduled.
KILLINGTON — The Special Olympics Winter Games return for a second year to Pico Mountain, with Sunday opening ceremonies.
The event is expected to draw several hundred people, said Kelsey Conway, marketing and development manager for Special Olympics Vermont. There will be 19 delegations from across the state, totaling 344 delegates. Most, 199, are athletes. The rest, 12 partners, 72 coaches and 61 support staff members, make up the rest of the folks tied to the event.
Conway said it’s expected that people from the area will attend as well to watch.
This is the second year of a three-year contract Special Olympics Vermont has with Killington Ski Resort, which owns Pico. Conway said the winter games had been held at Suicide Six Ski Resort on Woodstock, but it outgrew that venue.
“This is one of our more popular games,” Conway said.
Special Olympics Vermont holds games in the summer, fall, winter and holidays. They’re held all across the state, but the Winter Games are the only ones held in the Rutland County area, Conway said.
The winter games will consist of four events, alpine skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Conway said most events are being held at Pico, except cross country skiing, which will take place on the golf course across from the Killington Grand Resort Hotel.
She said it’s amazing to see all of the athletes compete, but the advanced alpine skier division has been known to really wow audiences.
Sunday’s opening ceremonies mirror the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, except on a smaller scale. The Flame of Hope will be skied down the mountain and the cauldron lit by the law enforcement team.
According to the event schedule, check-in for delegations is from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Ticket Center at Pico Mountain. The Parade of Athletes will go through the Pico Mountain Base Area starting at 6:45 p.m. Opening Ceremonies will be from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
On Monday, there will be a breakfast held at Pico from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Volunteer check-in is from 7:45 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. at Pico Ski Club. Volunteer training will be from 8:15 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. A Coaches Meeting at each venue will begin at 9 a.m. Events will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various locations. Lunch is at Pico Base Lodge from noon to 1:30 p.m. At 5:45 p.m. there will be a banquet at the Oscar Wilde Ballroom at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel. An ‘80s themed dance will be held at the same location from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, breakfast at Pico is set for 8:30 a.m. Volunteers will check in at Pico Ski Club between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Volunteer training is at 9 a.m. Coaches meet at venues at 9:30 a.m. Events are between 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Barbecue lunch is at 11:30 a.m..
Alicia Harrington, a local wife and domestic worker, was remembered as a loving mother who will be missed by her family after the arraignment of the man accused of her murder.
Rutland attorney Steven Howard, who represents Harrington’s husband, Jaime Harrington, and the Harrington family, read a statement on Friday.
“Alicia was not only Jaime’s precious wife but also his best friend. Alicia was a wonderful mother and treated their son as the center of her world. The things that Alicia did for her family and friends were selfless,” Howard said.
The statement said Harrington would stop what she was doing if she saw someone having a bad day so she could try to bring a better mood to that person.
Howard spoke to the press after the arraignment of Shawn LaPlant, of Chestnut Avenue, in Rutland criminal court for second-degree murder.
Howard said Harrington was a lifelong Rutlander.
“Her death has left a huge hole in our world,” Howard said.
An obituary submitted to the Rutland Herald was written by friends.
“Alicia was good, funny, warm, loving, stubborn and shy. Unique. With red hair, and freckles, and a nervousness that could be debilitating. She was a beautiful individual, mother, wife, daughter, cousin, niece and friend. Her sense of humor made the crankiest client smile,” the obituary said.
Alicia Jean Dell Veneri Harrington, 44, of Rutland, graduated from Rutland High School in 1992, took classes at Lyndon State College and what was then Castleton State College.
She married Jaime Harrington in July 2001 and her son, Tristan, was born in March 2009. Eventually, she started a house-cleaning business.
“(T)hat flame of hair, her lovely, heartfelt laugh, her lively conversation, her industry, her unassuming manner, all made her knock on the door a welcome one. She loved your cats, she loved your dogs and she loved your little grandchildren,” Harrington’s obituary said.
The statement Howard read said the family was “devastated” when they learned of Harrington’s death on March 7. Jaime Harrington reported his wife missing March 5, the day police believe she died, but she wasn’t found until someone reported finding her car in Proctor.
“Since the evening of March 5, Jaime, his son and the rest of the Harrington family had held on tightly to the hope that Alicia would be found alive and well. Jaime and his mother, Nancy, stayed up almost all night in hopes that the call would come saying they had found her,” Howard said.
Howard said the family sustained their hope after Harrington’s car was found on March 6.
“Despite their prayers, harsh realities crushed their hopes on the afternoon of March 7. Now they are left with memories of what has been and the remorse of knowing what will never be,” Howard said.
In the police affidavit supporting the charges against LaPlant, police said Jaime Harrington told them that Alicia Harrington had admitted to a past affair with LaPlant.
Howard acknowledged the Harrington marriage wasn’t always perfect but said the couple had “turned the corner and were looking at a bright future.”
“They had really resolved to work on their marriage and make it work. They did so, in part, because of their son and also because of their longstanding relationship and, at the very least, their friendship,” he said.
In the statement, Howard said the Harrington family hoped LaPlant’s arrest would start the process that could lead to closure.
“Although we recognize that the arrest and arraignment of Shawn LaPlant is only the first step in a long and painful legal process, the family at least can draw some comfort knowing that Alicia’s killer will face justice in the foreseeable future. From this day forward, the family will have to cope with their incredible loss,” Howard said.
A two-part fund has been set up at the Heritage Family Credit Union, one part a trust for Tristan and his education when he comes of age; and the second to help with the Harrington family’s unexpected expenses.
FAIR HAVEN — The loveliest Lincoln of them all is settling into her new role as a worldwide pet celebrity.
“It’s been invigorating, it really has,” said Fair Haven Grade School Principal Skip Cooke on Friday of the student-elected pet mayor. “We need this kind of thing. In my opinion, I think sometimes all of us just get too much of the doom and gloom kind of news. I think we need exciting things that are just fun, light-hearted, engaging, to share with your neighbor over the fence.”
“People enjoyed seeing Fair Haven on the national newspapers,” said Town Manager Joe Gunter. “Morale was boosted. It’s such a unique thing to be showcased around the world.”
The quiet town of Fair Haven was alight with reporters, cameras and crowds from more than a dozen radio stations Wednesday evening when Pet Mayor Lincoln was sworn in by the Select Board. Even international media outlets picked up the tale of Vermont’s first four-legged public official.
“Being put on the map, that was one of the most exciting things, because kids haven’t seen that before,” Cooke said. “What it also did is, it saw the power of the press, too. Something as small and unique as doing a fundraiser here.”
The Boston Globe, WCAX, the Burlington Free Press, the Japan Times, Fox News, Business Insider, the Montreal Gazette, Huffington Post, the New York Times and others published articles on Lincoln.
“It made this town very happy,” said Mark Gutel, owner of the Kinder Way Café. “It brought a positive energy to this town.
“It could have been bigger. We could’ve done more with it. It should have been celebrated locally. It shows people that we are a great community, and we stick together, no matter what.”
It all started at Kinder Way Café in January, when Gunter invited Cooke out to lunch to share an idea inspired by a small town in Michigan.
“It was created here,” Gutel said.
His initial reaction to the idea was uncertain, but Cooke agreed to explore the idea and several weeks later, he pitched it to his students, just before the regular election. Students would enter pets as candidates for mayor.
“Along with that was a contribution of $5, like a filing fee like you would when you run for office, and the donation would go to the playground ... a good cause and a great activity,” Cooke said.
Portraits and descriptions of the pet candidates were glued to a giant poster board and brought down to the ballots, where families and students voted for their favorite animal to represent the town as more of a mascot than a decision-maker.
“They got to go with their parents and vote, not just watch,” said math teacher Chris Stanton, Lincoln’s owner.
“The kids really liked the notoriety they received for it, that it was something special, something unique here at Fair Haven Grade School, and whether they felt connected or not, it still put them on the map,” Cooke said. “It was real ownership, and I’d predict that next year, we’ll have two or three times the number of entries. This has been motivating for kids.”
The election spurred conversation between Cooke and Stanton about bringing back civics classes and public speaking to public schools, even on an elementary level.
“Really getting into the election process and the civic responsibility...and really teaching them that our school is a community and how a community works. Those things are already in the works for a year from now,” Cooke said.
The grade school held a mock election in 2016. Cooke said the district is inspired to bring back public and community service exercises.
“The curricula have expanded in terms of what needs to be taught today. There are so many other things going on in the world today that seem to distract us,” Cooke said as he held up his iPhone and gestured to his laptop.
Behind Fair Haven Grade School is more than an acre of fields and recreational area, which Cooke said are packed with families in the summer, whether it’s for T-Ball or to climb on the small jungle gym area.
For around $80,000, Fair Haven can put a new jungle gym there, but the school’s last bid fell through, Cooke said.
So the school held a town election, dominated by Ms. Lincoln, which raised $80 in its inaugural year.
A GoFundMe Page — with Lincoln’s picture on it — has been started to help raise the roughly $70,000 needed to buy the town a new play place selected by the Parent Teacher Organization, Cooke said.
Other fundraisers, such as the spring fling, the Memorial Day Parade and Apple Fest, will all feature Mayor Lincoln hoofing it for the cause.
“As much as we can get kids involved with a structure that they’re going to put up, it would mean that much more to them if they know they put in a little sweat equity,” Stanton said.
As much as Lincoln is celebrating her electoral victory, Stanton said Lincoln is to be a one-term mayor, and will not seek re-election.
“She’s going to get as much as she can done in one term,” Stanton said. “Then she’ll leave it up to somebody else.”
Townsfolk hope the magic will last, though, and there’s no telling who will take office and their own personal sash next year.
“I had a young lady pop her head in the door to say how cool it was to see her hometown on television,” Gunter said. “A couple came in last week, banged on the door and said, ‘We want to see the mayor!’”
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