Allen and Patricia Prue. (Photo by Vermont State Police)
By Matt Ryan and Mike Donoghue, Burlington Free Press
ST. JOHNSBURY - For two days rumors swirled through Danville that police were closing in on the couple suspected of abducting and killing Melissa Jenkins, the victim's former boss said Wednesday.
Marion Cairns said the arrests of Allen and Patricia Prue came as no surprise. She said Allen Prue, 30, had repeatedly asked Jenkins on dates, and Jenkins had repeatedly shot him down.
"I'm just sick about it," she said.
While employees prepared dinner Wednesday afternoon at The Creamery Restaurant, Cairns said she finds herself expecting Jenkins' return to work. Jenkins, 33, waited tables at The Creamery four nights a week, in addition to teaching at St. Johnsbury Academy.
"It doesn't even seem like it's real," Cairns said. "I still think she's going to bounce in here tomorrow night."
She said that up until the Vermont State Police arrested the Prues, her other waitresses feared for their own safety.
"My girls were scared to leave last night," Cairns said.
The killing of Jenkins, a 1996 graduate of Danville High School, reverberated throughout the state.
Jenkins was close to wrapping up her master's degree in education at St. Michael's College.
Spokeswoman Buff Lindau said the death touched the Colchester campus. She said Karen Talentino, vice president of academic affairs, distributed a campus-wide email saying the death had "a significant impact on many members of our community, including students, staff and faculty."
Talentino wrote, "Faculty who have taught her, students who were in class with her, and undergraduate students who knew her from St. Johnsbury Academy - all are trying to deal with the senseless loss of this wonderful young woman and mother. Even those of us who didn't know Melissa personally sense the loss of a member of our community."
The father of Jenkins' 2 year-old son, Tyrell, is B.J. Robertson, a former standout basketball player at St. Michael's, who graduated in May 2006 and comes from a well-known Burlington family. Robertson was the 2001-02 Burlington Free Press "Mr. Basketball" while a senior at Burlington High School. He went on to play professional basketball with the Vermont Frost Heaves for a couple of years.
Also Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin extended his condolences to Jenkins' family, saying he had spoken to her mother and sister Tuesday.
"Melissa Jenkins was the kind of Vermonter that makes us so proud to be Vermonters," Shumlin said at his weekly news conference. He called her killing "an unspeakably horrid tragedy that's so unlike what we expect in Vermont."
Back at St. Johnsbury Academy, where Jenkins taught science and coached sub-varsity basketball and soccer, faculty, staff and students welcomed the news of the arrests.
"We can now turn our full attention to healing from this tragic loss, celebrating Melissa's life and mourning her death," spokesman Joe Healy said in a statement. "The words and signs of love and support from around the region, nation, and world have been overwhelming."
Contributing: Free Press Staff Writer Terri Hallenbeck. Contact Mike Donoghue at 660-1845 or firstname.lastname@example.org; contact Matt Ryan at 651-4849 or email@example.com. Follow Matt on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mattryanhere.
Burlington Free Press