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Snowplow driver and wife accused of killing Vermont teacher

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A snowplow driver and newspaper deliveryman who wanted to “get a girl” and his wife allegedly lured a Vermont teacher from her home under the guise of needing help, then strangled her and weighted her body with cinderblocks before tossing it into a river, police say.

The murder of the popular prep school teacher, Melissa Jenkins, 33, who was a single mother to a 2-year-old, has stunned the small Vermont town of St. Johnsbury, about 70 miles south of the Canadian border.

Jenkins, who police say was killed Sunday, taught at St. Johnsbury Academy, a private prep school.

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On Wednesday, police announced they had arrested Allen Prue, 30, and his wife, Patricia Prue, 33, earlier that day, and they outlined the charges against the pair at a news conference.

The Caledonian-Record described Allen Prue as a sub-contracted deliveryman for the newspaper as well as a snowplow driver. It said he had showed up for his deliveries on Sunday night, the night of Jenkins’ murder, but that colleagues had noted he was late. Prue and his wife pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to second-degree murder charges in Jenkins’ death.

Police painted a chilling picture of the events leading up to the murder. They say that Jenkins had encountered Allen Prue in the past, because he had plowed her driveway, but that she became uncomfortable around him after he asked her out. Prue, however, appeared to remain interested in Jenkins, even showing up drunk at her home last fall to ask if he could plow her driveway again, according to court documents cited on bostonherald.com.

Police say that on Sunday night, Allen Prue decided he wanted to “get a girl,” and he and his wife concocted a plan to target Jenkins. His wife allegedly phoned Jenkins to say their vehicle had broken down and they needed help. Jenkins put her 2-year-old into her SUV and drove to meet the pair, but she called a friend before she left and told him whom she was going to see and where.

When the friend did not hear from Jenkins later that night, he went to search for her and found her SUV on a remote road near her home, idling and with her toddler asleep inside. Her body, naked and weighted with cinderblocks, was found a few miles away in the Connecticut River on Monday. Police said Jenkins died of strangulation.

In a statement, St. Johnsbury Academy, where Jenkins was a popular science teacher, said the arrests are “good news for all who loved her.” “We can now turn our full attention to healing from this tragic loss, celebrating Melissa’s life and mourning her death,” it said.

Allen Prue’s mother, though, said she was convinced her son was not the killer and that he had never been in trouble with the law before. “I do not believe he would ever do this, because he didn’t have it in him,” Donna Prue, who lives with the couple, told reporters after the couple’s court appearance Wednesday.

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tina.susman@latimes.com


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