UPDATED: Investigation continues into Mont Vernon home invasion, sex assault
According to Chief Kyle Aspinwall of the Mont Vernon Police Department, a man entered an unlocked door of a home on Brook Road before 3:30 p.m. Thursday, sexually assaulted a woman and then fled into the woods behind the home.
The incident comes almost three years after a Mont Vernon mother, Kimberly Cates, was brutally murdered on Oct. 4, 2009, when four young men invaded her home, also seriously injuring her then 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie.
Authorities are not releasing the house number where this week's home invasion took place, nor are they commenting on whether the woman was home alone at the time of the attack.
'We were initially given information that the (intruder) may - and I emphasize may - have been armed with a
handgun, but I am not in a position to confirm that or dispel it,' Aspinwall said on Friday.
The woman called police at 3:26 p.m. to report the incident, and local and New Hampshire State Police responded and conducted an extensive search of the nearby area, with help from a search dog. A heavily wooded area in the rear of the house, near the Amherst town line, was the main focus of the search, said Aspinwall.
The primary motivation for the home invasion - whether it was robbery or sexual assault - is still under investigation, he said, adding that police are trying to determine whether any items were stolen.
'When a sexual assault takes place, it has been our experience that everything else is secondary to that,' said the chief. The victim was taken to an area hospital where she was treated and released, he said.
While the unsuccessful search continued until late Thursday night, authorities returned to the crime scene early Friday to collect evidence and continue interviewing witnesses, said Aspinwall, who would not comment on how long the attacker was inside the home.
Aspinwall also would not say whether the victim could identify her attacker, or whether he was known to her. The male intruder is described as 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall with a medium build.
'He was dressed in entirely black clothing,' said Aspinwall. 'I would say that is unusual.'
Authorities stressed that they are looking for just one person, and are still trying to determine whether the house was specifically targeted or if it was a random attack.
State police are handling the investigation, according to Capt. John LeLacheur.
'At this point, there are no new developments,' LeLacheur said Friday afternoon, adding that the intruder is no longer in the immediate area and there is no threat to the general public.
Former state Rep. Linda Foster of Mont Vernon, who served in the House of Representatives for 16 years, said Thursday's home invasion is sure to bring up some raw emotions and powerful reminders of the brutal Mont Vernon attacks three years ago.
'I don't know how it couldn't. It is a cruel irony I think,' said Foster. 'I don't know how often this type of thing happens in other parts of the state, but I am not sure it would get this much publicity if it happened elsewhere.'
Foster said that the Mont Vernon community has overcome a horrific tragedy, and although the residents will never forget Cates' murder, the town is stronger now than it was three years ago.
And Thursday's home invasion will not weaken that strength, she said, adding that local and state police are qualified and committed to resolving this newest case.
'I certainly hope they catch the person responsible, and we can have some closure,' she said, noting today's Lamson Farm Day is a time to celebrate Mont Vernon's culture, heritage and bonds.
She is hopeful that the recent crime will not affect the town's family celebration, explaining that the community deserves some space and privacy.