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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Burlington Police Investigating Break-In at Mayor Weinberger's Home

Posted By on Tue, Jan 25, 2022 at 7:33 PM

  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
Burlington police are investigating after a reported break-in Tuesday at Mayor Miro Weinberger's Hill Section home.

Weinberger said in a statement that his family returned home around 5 p.m. to find their home had been broken into. They immediately called the police.

"I am grateful to the officers who responded quickly and professionally, and who work every day to keep Burlingtonians safe," the mayor's statement said. "I am also heartened by the messages from many neighbors who have already shared concern for our family.”

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Accused Drug Dealer in Rutland Is Focus of Sex Trafficking Investigation

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2022 at 7:37 PM

  • U.S. Department of Justice
An accused drug trafficker in Rutland doled out punishment by smacking people with a handgun and may have forced addicted women into prostitution, according to a document filed in federal court on Wednesday.

A federal grand jury had indicted Lawrence Jackson, 50, on several drug charges late last month. He’s also accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm, specifically a revolver dubbed by its manufacturer as The Judge and described in a court document as “a particularly effective and dangerous weapon” that fires both .45-caliber bullets and .410-gauge shotgun shells.

The document describes Jackson as an “extremely violent person causing significant recent harm in the Rutland community.” Jackson used the weapon at least three times to pistol-whip people and also to threaten a woman he thought had stolen drugs from him, the document states. Witnesses also told the feds that Jackson had raped and sexually assaulted multiple women, and held down one woman and burned her skin with a butane torch.

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Friday, December 10, 2021

Vermont Teacher Groomed Student From Age 11, Raped Her, Affidavit Says

Posted By on Fri, Dec 10, 2021 at 6:15 PM

Matthew Toof coaching basketball at BFA St. Albans in February 2020 - COURTESY OF GREGORY J. LAMOUREUX/COUNTY COURIER
  • Courtesy of Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Matthew Toof coaching basketball at BFA St. Albans in February 2020
Georgia Elementary & Middle School teacher Matthew Toof has been charged with sexual assault, stemming from allegations that he repeatedly raped and molested a former student over the course of more than five years, starting when she was 11 years old.

Toof, who is listed as a middle school literacy teacher on the school's website, is facing two charges — repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child, and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. After being arraigned on Thursday, he was being held without bail at Northwestern Correctional Center.

A criminal affidavit from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office details accusations of repeated abuse, which allegedly began in Toof's sixth-grade classroom in April 2016. Later that spring, teachers in the school became suspicious about the relationship between Toof and the girl after witnesses spotted them spending time together, holding hands and embracing.

Another student saw Toof touch the girl's bottom and told his mother, a teacher at the school, who reported the incident to a guidance counselor. Other students and staff members also reported concerns, and the guidance counselor contacted the Department for Children & Families in June 2016.

But the agency said it didn't follow up on the report because the concerns did not meet the criteria for sexual abuse. That same month, Toof stuck his hands down the girl's pants in his classroom, she told police.

On November 18, 2016 — just five months later — a social studies and language arts teacher at the school filed another report with DCF. She reported hearing the school administration expressing concern about Toof's behavior toward the student, who was no longer in his class.

Staff had been advised "to keep an eye" on the girl and not allow her to visit Toof's classroom because there had been "a previous incident of concern about his behavior with this child," court documents say. Earlier that month, Toof had been observed holding hands and hugging the student, the teacher reported. Again, DCF declined to investigate further.

DCF did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from Seven Days.

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Friday, December 3, 2021

Fears of Violence Keep Many Students Away From Mount Abe in Bristol

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 5:18 PM

Bristol Police stationed in front of Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School Friday morning - ALISON NOVAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Alison Novak ©️ Seven Days
  • Bristol Police stationed in front of Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School Friday morning
Few students attended class at Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School in Bristol on Friday, and police stationed themselves outside the building after its principal announced that unidentified students had said they planned to bring weapons to school.

“This is a terrifying thought,” Principal Shannon Warden wrote in a letter emailed to families and posted on the high school’s Facebook page Thursday night. Many students and parents had notified administrators that they were “scared to come to school tomorrow,” Warden wrote, “and I can’t blame them!”

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old high school student in Michigan killed four classmates and injured seven others. His parents were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter because of their actions in the lead-up to the shooting.

Warden said the threats at Mt. Abe were made after the school decided Thursday to ban students from wearing flags or banners in school. This week, the principal explained, students had draped flags over themselves like capes “in support of a person, cause or movement.”

A person familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified told Seven Days that some of the flags expressed support for former president Donald Trump. Pro-law enforcement Thin Blue Line and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags were also worn. As a counterprotest, other students brought LGBTQ, Transgender Pride and Black Lives Matter flags to school.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Winooski Soccer Player Could Face Criminal Charge From Enosburg Game

Posted By on Wed, Oct 20, 2021 at 7:58 PM

Winooski soccer players at a game on September 28 - DARIA BISHOP ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Daria Bishop ©️ Seven Days
  • Winooski soccer players at a game on September 28
Authorities are weighing whether to charge a Winooski High School soccer player with assault for allegedly head-butting an Enosburg Falls High School player during a game last month — a legal step that would be extremely rare in Vermont school sports.

The Chittenden County State's Attorney's Office is deciding whether to charge the student. The Winooski Police Department sent the prosecutors' office a report on October 11 that found probable cause that the 19-year-old player committed what would be a misdemeanor offense.

The September 18 game gained widespread attention after Winooski superintendent Sean McMannon said that three Enosburg athletes directed racial slurs at the Black Winooski athletes, calling them "the N-word, monkey and terrorist."

The Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, which includes Enosburg Falls High School, said on Monday that its two-and-half-week investigation into the matter found no evidence to substantiate the allegations of racial abuse. But superintendent Lynn Cota said she considers the investigation incomplete because Winooski student athletes declined to answer questions, and the Winooski School District did not share its investigatory notes.

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Police: Man Shot Wife, Dismembered Her Body Inside Their Camper

Posted By on Wed, Oct 20, 2021 at 1:59 PM

Joseph Ferlazzo at his arraignment Wednesday - POOL: GLENN RUSSELL/VTDIGGER
  • Pool: Glenn Russell/VTDigger
  • Joseph Ferlazzo at his arraignment Wednesday
A man told cops he shot his wife twice in the head in Bolton before cutting up her body inside their camper van.

New details of 22-year-old Emily Ferlazzo’s death were unveiled in court documents on Wednesday after her husband, Joseph Ferlazzo, 41, was arraigned in Burlington. Wearing a painter’s coverall and blue latex gloves, Joseph appeared by video in Judge Gregory Rainville’s courtroom, where he pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge.

Citing the “great weight of evidence,” Rainville ordered Joseph held without bail pending another hearing in the coming weeks. He has no prior criminal record, prosecutors said.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

New Hampshire Man Admits to Killing His Wife in Bolton, Police Say

Posted By on Tue, Oct 19, 2021 at 11:14 PM

Emily Ferlazzo, 22, and her husband, Joseph Ferlazzo, 41 - VERMONT STATE POLICE
  • Vermont State Police
  • Emily Ferlazzo, 22, and her husband, Joseph Ferlazzo, 41
A New Hampshire woman reported missing in Bolton on Monday night has been found dead, Vermont State Police said, and her husband has admitted to killing her.

Joseph Ferlazzo, 41, was being questioned by detectives at the state police barracks in St. Albans on Tuesday night. He told the authorities that he’d killed his wife, 22-year-old Emily Ferlazzo, early Saturday in Bolton.

Cops found her body in a small bus the couple had converted into a camper. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday in Burlington. Joseph, meanwhile, will be arraigned on a first-degree murder charge at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, also in Burlington.

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Burlington Man Admits to Overseas Murder-for-Hire Plot

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2021 at 5:01 PM

  • Khwaneigq | Dreamstime
In a twisted international plot, a Burlington man has admitted that he paid a Venezuelan woman to kidnap two people abroad, torture them and film it — all for his viewing pleasure.

Sean Fiore, 37, pleaded guilty on Thursday to four federal counts that include murder for hire, conspiracy to kidnap and murder a person overseas, as well as producing and possessing child pornography. He will be sentenced in March and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The woman who allegedly carried out Fiore's requests — Moraima Escarlet Vasquez Flores, of Venezuela — faces similar charges. She was arrested in Colombia last fall, and U.S. authorities are now seeking her extradition.

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Friday, October 8, 2021

Woman Speaks Out Ahead of Her Rapist's Release From Prison

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2021 at 4:55 PM

Southern State Correctional Facility - VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
  • Vermont Department of Corrections
  • Southern State Correctional Facility
A woman who was left battered and unconscious after a Valentine's Day beating and rape that shook Burlington 25 years ago issued a statement on Friday ahead of her attacker's release from prison.

“I have watched, read, ruminated, and prayed over this release. It has been a years' long process,” Kami Calevro wrote in the statement, released to the media through an attorney. “Initially I wanted to hide from it. But this is a part of my life and running from it at the conclusion is not how I would have it end.

"In coming full circle with a statement as myself, as Kami Calevro, I wish to send these words: Let us assure our girls and women that there is no shame in rape, let them know that there is a full life after violent crime, and let us remind everyone that no matter the outcome we all must come together for the greater good of society."

Her assailant, Craig Yandow, is to be released on Wednesday, October 13, after completing his sentence. The Department of Corrections has labeled him a moderate-high risk to commit another sexual offense, in part because he would not participate in sex offender treatment while behind bars.
  • Vermont Department of Corrections
  • Craig Yandow
Once released, Yandow will live in Essex. The town police department, along with the Essex Community Justice Center, on Friday evening hosted a virtual meeting to answer questions about his release. About 50 people attended.

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Monday, October 4, 2021

St. Albans Family Frustrated After School Investigation Into Racist Meme Sputters

Posted By on Mon, Oct 4, 2021 at 11:49 PM

Bellows Free Academy St. Albans - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Bellows Free Academy St. Albans

Kaylee Mckenzie was eating lunch in the cafeteria at Bellows Free Academy St. Albans on September 17 when she received a notification on her phone that someone wanted to AirDrop her an image.

The message was coming from an iPhone with no name attached. Kaylee accepted, and a racist meme popped up on her screen. It showed a photograph of three hooded Ku Klux Klan members with the words, “3 K’s a day keeps the n—-ers away.” 

Kaylee, whose mother is white and father is Black, deleted the image. But a friend and an older sister, who she immediately asked for advice, told her it sounded like a hate crime and that she should report it.

After recovering the image, Kaylee did — but the perpetrator still hasn't been caught. Now two weeks after the traumatic incident, Kaylee and her mother, Heather Mckenzie, say the school mishandled the investigation and didn't provide the high school senior the support she needed in the aftermath.

“Where was the guidance counselor or the [mental health] clinician? Nobody checked on her mental health. Nothing,” Mckenzie said. “If she was a white kid, would they have done all of that?”

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