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April 28. 2012 11:08PM

Prayer service tonight for Grantham murder victim aims to heal

GRANTHAM — Two area pastors are calling the community together tonight for a prayer and healing service in the wake of the death of Natalie Perriello, a Grantham mother of four and Lebanon High School teacher.

Thursday night police responded to a 911 called from 80 Doc' Drive, the home of husband and wife James W. Perriello, 41, and Natalie Perriello, 42, and their four children.

Natalie Perriello was found dead. Her husband was arrested and charged with two charges of second degree murder for allegedly shooting her multiple times with a handgun. He is currently being held without bail in the Sullivan County of Corrections.

The Community Prayer and Healing service, led by Pastor Pat Williams, will be held at 6 p.m. at the United Methodist Church on Main Street.

Patricia Wells, a Grantham resident who also serves as a pastor in Claremont, will assist, Wells said.

“We felt a real need to offer members of the community time to be together and spend a time with prayer and healing and move beyond just feeling alone and upset and concerned … and find a place of peace and feel the healing presence of the Lord,” Wells said.

Residents are concerned about the family members left behind, she said.

“We're hoping that the family, the children, receive the support they need and the grandparents,” Wells said.

Perriello left behind four children, between 3 and 12 years old, and her parents Robert and Ann LaFlam of Meriden.

Perriello's brother, Robert LaFlam Jr., said the family needs time and space before making any statement.

“My sister was just as close to a perfect person as you could meet,” LaFlam said.

The Lebanon High School community has also been rocked by the tragedy.

Perriello had been a technology teacher at the school and came into contact with students mostly in her computer classes.

The Lebanon Police Chief met with faculty early Friday morning, said teacher Aileen Sullivan.

“It was such as shock” to hear the news, Sullivan said.

Teachers were given a letter to read to their students as well as supplemental support material.

The reaction from the students reflected her impact as a teacher, she said. “It showed a lot about what a special person she was to the kids. She really cared about the students.”

Guidance counselors as well as counselors from community agencies were available Friday to support the grieving school community.

Then on Saturday the school held an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for students and staff seeking counseling.

Sullivan said the guidance department plans to continue offering counseling for the remainder of the school year.

Lebanon High School senior Elisabeth Gobin, 18, of Grantham said her mother, who is also a teacher at the high school, came to her room before school to tell her what had happened.

Gobin was a student in Perriello's Government in Action/the Learning Studio Class. The class was also taught by Jason Tetu.

When Gobin had signed up for the new elective, she had thought it would be about government, but it was actually a forum in which students could help shape school polices, Gobin said.

“It became one of my favorite classes, cause Mrs. Perriello and Mr. Tetu took us so seriously. When we had a concern in the school, they took us so seriously. … It just worked. Everybody ended up loving this class.”

Because it was a new elective class, on Friday the students had planned to go around the school to sign up students to take the class next year, Gobin said. As a reward, Perriello said she would bring her students chocolate chip cookies and chocolate milk.

The gesture of kindness toward her students was all Gobin could think of when she learned of her death.

“When I got to school, it was really hard. And she didn't deserve that. Nobody does,” Gobin said.

At the school on Friday she and her mother along with some other staff and students toasted Perriello with chocolate milk.


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