Murder of Vanessa Marcotte

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Vanessa Marcotte
Born
Vanessa Teresa Marcotte

(1989-06-17)June 17, 1989
DiedAugust 7, 2016(2016-08-07) (aged 27)
Cause of deathMurder
Parent(s)John Marcotte (father)
Rosanna Marcotte (mother)

Vanessa Teresa Marcotte (June 17, 1989 – August 7, 2016) was a 27-year-old American woman who, while jogging on a rural road in Princeton, Massachusetts, was assaulted and murdered. Her case went unsolved until April 15, 2017, when authorities announced that 31-year-old Angelo Colon-Ortiz of Worcester, Massachusetts, had been arrested for her murder after being linked by DNA evidence.[1]

Background[edit]

Vanessa Teresa Marcotte was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, on June 17, 1989, to John and Rosanna Marcotte. An only child, she attended the Bancroft School in Worcester, Massachusetts, and graduated with honors with a bachelor's degree in communications from Boston University in 2011. She then proceeded into her professional career where she worked at an online marketing software startup in Boston called WordStream, as well as at the American offices of Vistaprint. She eventually started working as an account manager at Google in New York City, where she worked up until her death.[2] While Marcotte lived full-time in New York City, she often made bi-monthly visits to her mother and aunt, who lived in Princeton, Massachusetts, a small rural town of less than 4,000 residents in Worcester County.[3][4]

Murder[edit]

On Sunday, August 7, 2016, Marcotte left her mother's house on Brooks Station Road in Princeton in the early afternoon to go for a jog before heading back to New York by commuter bus later in the day. Her family notified police when several hours passed and she did not return. Police then immediately launched a missing persons search. She was found deceased off the street on a trail in a heavily wooded area around 8:20 PM, less than a half-mile from her mother's home.[5][6]

Officials immediately classified it as a homicide case.[7] Her body was naked and she had burns to her face, feet and hands.[8][4] She was also believed to have been sexually assaulted and strangled.[9][10] She suffered "crushing injuries" to her throat and had a broken nose.[11] Her clothes, cell phone and earbuds were missing, and a partially-burned sneaker was found near her body.[12] None of her clothes were ever recovered, and it is believed that her killer may have taken them when he fled.[13] Foreign DNA was also found at the scene.[14]

According to a local witness, Marcotte stopped at the Mountainside Market on Hubbardston Road in the afternoon for a drink, and was last seen alive walking while talking on her cell phone after 1 PM.[15] Another witness also reported they had seen a vehicle following Marcotte, which had turned around and followed her again on the road on which she was walking.[16] According to authorities, Marcotte put up a "huge struggle" during the attack, which was believed to have occurred between 1 and 3 P.M.[17][18]

Investigation and media speculation[edit]

The murder attracted much attention from the national media, and was often compared to the killing of Karina Vetrano of Queens, New York, who was found murdered under similar circumstances less than a week before.[17] Authorities never officially stated they were believed to be related, however. A suspect, linked by DNA evidence, was arrested and charged in the Vetrano case in February 2017.[19]

Several FBI profilers commented publicly on Marcotte's homicide, saying they believed Marcotte was most likely attacked at random by a stranger, and that the killer most likely lived in or frequented the area surrounding Princeton.[20][21][12]

Shortly after Marcotte's murder, investigators opened a 24-hour tip line asking for any information from the public, and received over 1,300 tips.[22][23] It was stated that Marcotte's attacker had been a male who likely had scratches, cuts and bruises to his face and arms.[24] It was not believed that Marcotte knew her killer, rather, it was suspected to have been a completely random attack. In November 2016, they stated they were seeking additional information about a black or dark-colored SUV that had been seen parked on the road at the time and area where Marcotte was killed.[25][26][27]

On December 21, 2016, in Princeton, Marcotte's family released their first official public statement, thanking the community for their support, and announced that the family had set up a website, vanessamarcotte.org, in memory of Marcotte and the establishment of the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation.[28][29]

On February 23, 2017, more than six months after the murder, the Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. released further details on the investigation, stating that the DNA of Marcotte's killer had been sent to a lab and a profile had been created. It was not revealed how the DNA was obtained. Based on the DNA evidence and witness statements, the suspect in the slaying was a Hispanic or Latino male in his late 20s to 30s, with an athletic build, average height and either short or shaved hair. It is also believed the suspect either owned or had access to a dark-colored SUV on the day of the murder and would have had visible injuries to his upper body in the days following the attack.[23][30]

Suspect[edit]

On April 15, 2017, at a press release in Princeton, Early announced that Marcotte's alleged killer had been apprehended.[1] Angelo Colon-Ortiz, age 31, of Worcester, Massachusetts, was arrested on April 14 and was arraigned at Leominster District Court on April 18 and placed on a $10 million bail.[31] He faces charges of aggravated assault and assault with intent to rape, as well as a murder charge in which he was indicted by a grand jury on June 23, 2017, at Worcester Superior Court.[32][33] On July 26, he pled not guilty and was ordered by a judge to be held without bail.[34] According to authorities, a Massachusetts state police trooper on patrol in Worcester had seen Colon-Ortiz, who matched the description of the suspect, driving a vehicle identical to the one seen on the day of Marcotte's murder. The trooper wrote the license plate number on his hand and followed up by visiting Colon-Ortiz's residence with another police officer the next day. Colon-Ortiz voluntarily provided a DNA sample, which came back a match from DNA that had been found on Marcotte's hands.[31][35]

Colon-Ortiz, a Puerto-Rican native who had no criminal history, was married with three children and had lived in Worcester for less than a year. He worked for a third-party contractor of FedEx, and made deliveries in and was familiar with the town of Princeton and surrounding areas. According to his Worcester neighbors, Colon-Ortiz was described as "perverted" and often made vulgar sexual comments to people in the neighborhood. A former female Princeton postal worker also said that Colon-Ortiz often made crude comments in Spanish about her and other women to his co-worker.[36][37][38]

Authorities revealed on the day of the murder, a local resident recalled seeing Colon-Ortiz outside his parked black SUV with the hood up, talking on his cell phone, around 12:45 in the afternoon. Cell phone records and data proved that Colon-Ortiz was indeed in the area at that time. Marcotte was believed to have left her home around 1:15. The resident drove by the vehicle again around 2:05 PM, and the SUV was still parked there, but with the hood back down and no one around. Marcotte’s cellphone data showed her phone either was shut off or disabled at 2:11 p.m., which was most likely near the exact time of her death.[11] Colon-Ortiz, who usually worked the morning shift, was not working the day of the murder. It is unknown why he was in the area that day.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Allen, Evan; Gans, Felicia (15 April 2017). "'We're very comfortable that we've got Vanessa Marcotte's killer'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Vanessa T. Marcotte". Legacy.com. Associated Press. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  3. ^ Levenson, Michael; Thadani, Trisha (8 August 2016). "Jogger killed in Princeton was visiting family". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b "What to know about Vanessa Marcotte, the Google employee killed jogging in Princeton, Mass". wcvb.com. WCVB 5 News. Associated Press. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  5. ^ Williamson, Dianne (10 August 2016). "Dianne Williamson: Slaying sends shock waves through Princeton". Telegram.com. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  6. ^ Jasinski, Peter (18 August 2016). "'Leominster's heart breaks' as city native Vanessa Marcotte is laid to rest". Sentinel & Enterprise. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  7. ^ Cooper, Steve; Hausle, Dan (8 August 2016). "Woman found dead in Princeton woods". WHDH.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  8. ^ Ring, Kim (9 August 2016). "Princeton slaying victim Vanessa Marcotte found naked, with burns". Telegram.com. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  9. ^ "NYC woman found dead in Massachusetts may have been set on fire, sexually assaulted". FoxNews.com. Associated Press. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  10. ^ Mitchell, Simone (9 August 2016). "Another woman killed while jogging: found without clothes and burns on head, feet, hands". New.com.au. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  11. ^ a b Associated Press (18 April 2017). "Marcotte suspect was allegedly seen near where she was found". Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  12. ^ a b Ring, Kim (14 August 2016). "Marcotte case poses challenge to solve, crime suspect profilers say". Telegram.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  13. ^ Feinstein, Amy (23 November 2016). "Vanessa Marcotte Update: Investigators Receive New Tips". Inquisitr.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  14. ^ Fiandaca, Cheryl (17 November 2016). "Sources: Police are using new DNA technology to give Vanessa Marcotte's killer a face". WHDH.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  15. ^ Moulton, Cyrus (8 August 2016). "'Unimaginable' act sets Princeton on edge". Telegram.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Are two jogger killings in NY, MA linked?". FoxNews.com. Associated Press. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  17. ^ a b Shapiro, Emily (8 August 2016). "Woman Who Worked for Google Killed After Going for Jog in Massachusetts". abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Woman killed while jogging found 'without clothes' and burns on head, feet, hands". WTKR.com. Associated Press. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  19. ^ Barron, James (5 February 2017). "Man Arrested in August Strangling of Jogger in Queens". New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  20. ^ Williams, Michelle (13 August 2016). "FBI profiler on Vanessa Marcotte's killer: 'He had to know she had his DNA'". Masslive.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  21. ^ Feinstein, Amy (3 November 2016). "FBI Profiler Weighs in on Massachusetts Slain Jogger Case". Inquisitr.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  22. ^ Rosen, Andy (7 September 2016). "More than 1,000 tips received in Vanessa Marcotte murder case". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  23. ^ a b Flanigan, Kaitlin (23 February 2017). "DA Releases DNA Profile of Person of Interest in Jogger's Slaying". NECN.com. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  24. ^ Harthorne, Michael (12 August 2016). "Murdered jogger may have injured her killer". usatoday.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  25. ^ Andersen, Travis (16 November 2016). "Investigators in Princeton jogger murder case seek dark-colored SUV". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  26. ^ "CBS Boston". boston.cbslocal.com. Associated Press. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  27. ^ "Massachusetts authorities searching for SUV in relation to jogger's murder". FoxNews.com. Associated Press. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  28. ^ Fortier, Marc (21 December 2016). "Family of Murdered Jogger Vanessa Marcotte Speaks Out for First Time in 4 Months". nbcboston.com. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  29. ^ Hanson, Melissa (21 February 2017). "Vanessa Marcotte's family announces foundation in her memory, website for case updates". MassLive.com. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  30. ^ Semon, Craig (23 February 2017). "DNA sample obtained in Vanessa Marcotte slaying investigation". Telegram.com. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  31. ^ a b Schladebeck, Jessica (16 April 2017). "Angelo Colon-Ortiz held on $10M bail in connection with Massachusetts murder of jogger Vanessa Marcotte".
  32. ^ Levenson, Eric (15 April 2017). "Suspect arrested in August killing of jogger Vanessa Marcotte". CNN.com. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  33. ^ Murray, Gary V. (June 23, 2017). "Man charged with murder in Vanessa Marcotte slaying". Telegram.com. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  34. ^ Murray, Gary V. (26 July 2017). "Suspect pleads not guilty in death of Vanessa Marcotte in Princeton". Telegram. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  35. ^ "31-Year-Old Worcester Man Arrested In Killing Of Princeton Jogger". WBUR.com. Associated Press. 15 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  36. ^ Choe, Jonathan (17 April 2017). "Neighbor of Man Charged in Vanessa Marcotte Murder Speaks Out". NBC Boston. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  37. ^ Bombard, Noah (18 April 2017). "Former Princeton postal worker recalls frightening interactions with Angelo Colon-Ortiz before Vanessa Marcotte was killed". MassLive.com. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  38. ^ Associated Press (18 April 2017). "Acquaintances Of Princeton Murder Suspect Recall Strange And Vulgar Interactions". Boston CBS Local. Retrieved 10 May 2017.