Murder of Michelle Gardner-Quinn

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Gardner-Quinn

Michelle Gardner-Quinn (January 28, 1985 – October 2006) was an undergraduate at the University of Vermont who was kidnapped on October 7, 2006. Her body was later found along a road in the neighboring town of Richmond on October 13.

Disappearance and murder[edit]

In the early morning hours of October 7, Gardner-Quinn was walking home in Burlington, Vermont to her campus dormitory after a night out with friends. She borrowed a cell phone from a passerby, Brian Rooney, to call an acquaintance. A jewelry store surveillance camera captured Gardner-Quinn walking north with Rooney at approximately 2:34 am. Six days later, her body was found by hikers near Huntington Gorge in Richmond, Vermont. An autopsy revealed she had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled.[1]

Assailant[edit]

At a press conference on October 13, police announced that they had found Gardner-Quinn's body and arrested Brian Rooney on separate charges unrelated to the case. Rooney, a construction worker with several prior arrests, is facing charges from neighboring Caledonia County that pertain to sexual assault and lewd conduct with a child. In addition to being the person who last saw Gardner-Quinn, Rooney was reportedly seen with cuts on his hands when he stopped at a business in Winooski several days later. On October 25, police announced that they had charged Rooney with aggravated homicide in the death of Gardner-Quinn. He pleaded innocent.

At a press meeting, Rooney's lawyer accidentally revealed confidential information about DNA evidence, which resulted in the trial going under lock-and-key.

On May 22, 2008, Brian Rooney was convicted of aggravated murder in Rutland, Vermont, by a 12-member jury.[2] On October 17, 2008, Rooney was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Judge Michael Kupersmith admonished him, stating that: "You are the lowest of the low." Rooney expressed condolences to Quinn's family but maintained he is innocent.[3][4]

In her memory[edit]

"Michelle We love you"
Roadside plaque near where Michelle's body was found. Visitors leave tokens such as beads and flowers on the boulder.

Cosmopolitan magazine featured Gardner-Quinn's story, "The Murder of a Beautiful Girl", in its February 2007 issue.

A non-profit organization, Michelle's Earth Foundation (MEF) has been founded in her memory. It is devoted to promoting youth involvement and awareness in environmentalism, about which Gardner-Quinn cared deeply.

Her parents are creating a scholarship in her name at UVM (WPTZ)

An essay she wrote (just days before her abduction) about her environmental beliefs was featured at Live Earth concerts in July 2007 and on an August 5 National Public Radio broadcast. [1]

Her essay, "A Reverence For All Life", has also been published in the book, This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women.

References[edit]

External links[edit]