HAVERHILL — The Vermont man accused in the random slashing and stabbing death of a California woman in a Littleton hotel early this year could now face a charge of first-degree murder if that case goes to trial.
A Grafton County Superior Court grand jury has indicted Rodney Hill, 37, of West Danville, Vt., on alternative counts of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the death of Catherine “Kitty” Houghton, 70, a multilingual veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service who had long-standing ties to New Hampshire’s North Country.
Hill told police the night of the killing that he believed he was the devil’s son, and said he attacked Houghton, whom he did not know, because he believed she was the devil in disguise and was out to cause trouble for him and his family.
Both were guests at the Hampton Inn off Route 302 on the night of Jan. 28 when police were summoned to the hotel about a mile from downtown Littleton and discovered an agitated Hill yelling and running across the snow-covered parking lot in his bare feet.
Police said they followed a trail of blood and found Houghton in a third-floor hallway where she was apparently attempting to return to her room following the attack in the lobby.
She told police she was attacked from behind by someone she didn’t know. Houghton was then taken to Littleton Regional Hospital where she died that night from a severe neck wound, according to the medical examiner’s findings the following day.
Hill made his only court appearance to date in the case the day after the killing and did not enter a plea in Littleton District Court.
Senior Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Susan Morrell said then that Hill was charged with alternative second-degree murder counts for either “knowingly” or “recklessly” causing the death of Houghton, a San Francisco Bay-area resident who was in the North Country at the time to fulfill her duties as a trustee of The Mountain School in nearby Bethlehem.
The grand jury met Friday for its June session and the indictments were made public Wednesday. Grand jurors handed up the first-degree murder count, alleging Hill purposely caused Houghton’s death by stabbing her.
But by also handing up a second-degree murder indictment involving recklessness, the grand jury left open the possibility that a trial jury could consider that charge instead.
Hill, meanwhile, remains held without bail at the Grafton County jail in North Haverhill where he has been since January. Morrell said last month he has been undergoing a psychological evaluation to help determine whether he’s competent to stand trial.
The night of his arrest, according to court records, Hill, a married father of three, told police he had been prescribed Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication approved for use in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression.
Morrell did not return a message left Wednesday.