A Vermont man is in jail, accused of killing a woman then dumping her body last week.
The grim discovery followed a missing persons report for Alicia Harrington, 44, of Rutland, which went out on March 5 when she didn't pick up her son from elementary school.
Harrington's husband, Jamie, told police that was extremely out of character for her, because she was devoted to her son — so he developed serious suspicions something was wrong.
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"Her death has left a huge hole in our world," said Steven Howard, an attorney and spokesman for Jamie Harrington and the Harrington family, adding that the whole family had hoped desperately that Alicia would return to them safely.
Police arrested Shawn LaPlant, 28, early Friday morning and accused him of killing Alicia Harrington.
Friends of LaPlant told Vermont State Police their buddy confessed to killing Harrington.
Court documents written by detectives describe how, when one friend agreed to help police record a conversation with LaPlant to ask more about the alleged confession, the suspect didn't deny killing Harrington on the recording.
LaPlant allegedly strangled Harrington during an argument in his home last week, then carried her body out in a sleeping bag to dump it in her car and park it on the side of the road in Proctor.
A sleeping bag was recovered not far from the scene, detectives said. Other evidence was thrown away, a friend of LaPlant's told police in questioning.
Defense attorney Chris Montgomery entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of LaPlant to a second-degree murder charge.
Montgomery told Judge Thomas Zonay he believes evidence against his client is based on hearsay, and noted in his argument about bail that LaPlant does not have any criminal record in Vermont.
According to the affidavit filed in court, Jamie Harrington told investigators he was worried for his wife, saying she had an affair with her now-suspected killer, and that she would buy marijuana from him.
In court paperwork, police wrote that LaPlant's friends said he was angry the affair apparently ended, and that he didn't want anyone to be with Harrington if he couldn't be.
"He was searching things like how to use chloroform, how long it takes for someone to lose consciousness if you use chloroform," Rutland County State's Attorney Rose Kennedy told Judge Thomas Zonay, describing searches she said LaPlant performed on his cellphone.
Howard, the attorney for the victim's husband and family, acknowledged Jamie Harrington and his wife had a rocky marriage at times, but called Alicia Harrington selfless, loving and deeply concerned for others.
Howard said in response to a question from necn that the Harringtons were eager to patch things up and care for their young son together.
"They had turned a corner and they were looking at a bright future," the family spokesman said.
Tori Budd lives across the street from LaPlant. Budd said LaPlant assured his neighbors he didn't kill Harrington, so Budd now feels lied to.
"I'm just very disgusted with it," Budd said of the alleged actions of LaPlant that left a mother of a young child dead. "My sympathy today is pretty much with that little boy, because now he has no mama."
Judge Zonay ordered LaPlant jailed without bail pending a weight of the evidence hearing. The judge also ordered that LaPlant have no contact with several people associated with the investigation.