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Deadly Littleton knife attack still a mystery

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 30. 2013 9:54PM
Rodney A. Hill, 37, of West Davville, Vt., is led into Littleton District Court Tuesday afternoon. The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office charged him with second-degree murder in the stabbing and slashing death of Dr. Catherine Houghton, 70. (POOL PHOTO, PAUL HAYES, CALEDONIAN-RECORD, ST. JOHNSBURY, VT.)

Investigators are trying to determine why a 37-year-old Vermont man allegedly murdered retired U.S. Foreign Service officer Catherine "Kitty" Houghton in the lobby of the Hampton Inn in Littleton Monday night.

Rodney A. Hill of West Danville, Vt., is being held without bail on alternate counts of second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing and slashing Houghton, 70, in the neck and torso. He has yet to enter a plea on the charges.

Both Hill and Houghton were registered guests at the hotel. The attack occurred in the lobby about 8:50 p.m., Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan G. Morrell said Wednesday.

Hill was arrested outside the hotel. Houghton was taken to a local hospital where she died from her wounds.

Morrell said investigators don't know what motivated the attack. Police are trying to establish if the two had any prior contact with each other.

"At this time, we're not seeing a connection. But we are investigating determine if there was any type of relationship between them," Morrell said.

Morrell said an autopsy was done on Houghton's body Wednesday. She would not discuss cause and manner of death, saying that information would be released in a press statement Thursday.

Houghton was a 1960 graduate of the White Mountain School, a private boarding school in Bethlehem. She served on the school's board of directors at the time of her death. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master's and doctorate from Stanford University.

Houghton spoke 14 languages and worked as a commercial counselor in the global business arm of the U.S. Foreign Service and was stationed in countries across the globe.

Morrell would not say if there were any witnesses to the attack, whether any search warrants had been executed and if Hill is cooperating with authorities. She also would not say when Hill and Houghton checked into the hotel and why they were staying there.

A probable cause hearing for Hill is set for Feb. 5 in Littleton District Court.

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