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A rural community of about 2,300 residents near the Massachusetts border is reeling in the wake of the random, grisly murder of a woman and the maiming of her 11-year-old daughter — allegedly at the hands of four teenagers.
Prosecutors said the teenagers picked the home at random in the early hours of Sunday morning because it was isolated from the main road, and they intended to kill whomever was inside.
Kimberly Cates, a 42-year-old nurse, was slain in her bed. Her daughter, Jaime, is recovering from surgery at Children's Hospital in Boston. She is expected to survive.
The news was a "complete shock" to the entire town, said John Quinlan, chair of the board of selectmen. "It's very much that bucolic, Norman-Rockwell-type New England setting."
On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Steven Spader, 17, and Christopher Gribble, 19, on murder and attempted murder charges. Both are being held without bail. Their two cohorts — William Marks, 18, and Quinn Glover, 17 — are facing burglary and armed robbery charges.
"You look for rhyme, you look for reason, you look for some kind of logic behind it and there just isn't any," Quinlan said. "There was no real cause behind this other than somebody went out to do an act of pure evil."
What makes this tragedy even harder for the town, Quinlan said, is that Mont Vernon is a tight-knit community. Quinlan and his family knew the Cates well: their daughters were in school together and the two families often shared meals and weekend holidays.
"That's, I think, what makes it the most terrible, because this is not something that's abstract and far away," Quinlan said. "A lot of people knew (them) and know them to be good people and nothing like this should ever happen to anybody."
The school has been offering counseling to students who know Jaime and Quinlan said the town is working out their plans to help members cope.
In addition to grief, Quinlan said many people in town have been feeling vulnerable, and many are probably changing the security around their homes now.
"This brings it home," Quinlan said, "that people who do bad things are everywhere, not just in big cities."
WBUR's Kathleen McNerney compiled this report.
This program aired on October 7, 2009.
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