ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. — A Vermont snow plow driver and his wife lured a popular prep school teacher from her home by pretending their vehicle had broken down, then beat her, strangled her, and stripped her body naked and threw it into the Connecticut River, court documents say.
Allen Prue, 30, and Patricia Prue, 33, pleaded not guilty today in St. Johnsbury to second-degree murder in the death of Melissa Jenkins, whose SUV was found idling along a remote road Sunday with her unharmed 2-year-old inside. The Prues ordered held without bail.
Allen Prue and his wife wanted to “get a girl” on Sunday night, although he and his wife “didn’t plan to get one forcefully,” according to court documents. Police gave no further details on a possible motive.
“They knew Miss Jenkins and had snow plowed her driveway a couple of years ago,” Vermont State Police Maj. Ed Ledo said at a news conference earlier in the day at which he announced the arrests.
After the court appearance, Allen Prue’s mother, Donna Prue, said that her son has never been in trouble with the law before and that she has faith he didn’t commit the crime.
“I do not believe he would ever do this, because he didn’t have it in him. I have nothing against her (Patricia); I don’t have nothing bad to say about either one,” Donna Prue said.
Police were called Sunday night after Jenkins’ son was found alone in her vehicle on a back road in St. Johnsbury.
Jenkins’ former boyfriend told police she said that she had gotten a call from a person who used to plow her driveway and that she was going to help them, the documents say.
The ex-boyfriend told police that Allen Prue had once asked Jenkins out on a date, and that she felt uncomfortable around him.
Allen Prue later told police he and his wife were driving along the remote road when Patricia Prue called Jenkins and told her they had broken down.
The court documents describe the encounter this way:
When the 33-year-old Jenkins arrived to help, Allen Prue grabbed her and strangled her. They then put the body in the backseat of their car and drove to their home. At some point Patricia Prue strangled Jenkins as well.
Back at their home, they put Jenkins’ body on a tarp, removed her clothes and poured bleach on her body. The Prues also removed their clothes and put them on the tarp
They then drove to a boat access at the Connecticut River, which separates Vermont from New Hampshire, and put Jenkins’ body in the water, weighing it down with blocks and concealing it with brush.
They took the tarp and the clothes to New Hampshire where they burned it.
The death of the well-loved science teacher at the school, once attended by President Calvin Coolidge, shocked people in the town of 6,200 in northeastern Vermont about 40 miles south of the Canadian border.