November 8, 2007
By LEE J. KAHRS
BRANDON — Two young children are without fathers after a love triangle erupted in a tragic murder-suicide in Brandon on Nov. 1.
Police said Todd English, 32, of Forestdale went to an apartment at 26 Union St. to confront his ex-girlfriend, Amanda Corey, 27. The couple had split up in September and Corey was in a relationship with Richard Griffin, 35, whom she had been with in the past, police said.
According to the account given by Brandon Police Chief Christopher Brickell, English forced his way into the apartment and began to argue with Corey, who led English back out of the house. English then re-entered the apartment and shot Griffin in the stomach with a .357 Magnum revolver. The injured Griffin stumbled outside and went to the neighbor’s for help. English then stood on the front steps of the apartment and shot himself in the head. He died instantly.
Griffin later died of his injuries following surgery at Rutland Regional Medical Center. The incident took place at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Thursday, capping a deadly 24-hour period in Western Vermont in which five people were killed.
Corey had a child with each man, a 14-month-old daughter with English, and a two-year-old son with Griffin. Brickell said only the baby girl was in the apartment at the time, but did not witness the shootings.
Brickell said Corey got a temporary restraining order against English on Oct. 18, which was valid for 10 days and expired four days before the shootings. The chief said Corey apparently never pursued a final abuse order against English.
Whether or not that would have prevented last week’s tragedy is uncertain.
“It’s debatable,” Brickell said. “If there had been a final order in effect, maybe he would not have done what he did.”
The chief said English did not violate the temporary order in any way while it was in effect.
The morning after the tragedy, the steps to the apartment were blocked by yellow police tape. A bloody doormat lay on the grass outside the apartment near a child’s stroller and a toy school bus. Drops of blood left a trail on the front lawn and across the street to a neighbor’s house.
That neighbor was calmly pouring water from gallon jugs on the sidewalk to wash away the blood. She asked that her name not be used for occupational reasons, but said she heard three gunshots, then screaming.
“When I looked out the window, there was a man in the front yard,” she said. “He came over and asked for help.”
She said Griffin was holding his stomach and bleeding. She called 9-1-1, but an ambulance and the police were already en route. She said Griffin then staggered to the sidewalk and collapsed just as the ambulance arrived.
The neighbor was asked if there has been trouble at the house across the street before.
“It depends,” she said. “People are in and out of there all the time. They move in, stay for a while, then leave.”
Ironically, the woman said she and an association of Union Street neighbors met with police just last week to try and improve the neighborhood. She said most of the problems involve speeding cars and kids hanging around.
“The police have been very good about saying these are not bad kids,” she said. “They said if they ask them to move on, they move on.”
Brickell said the meeting took place at the Visual Learning Center on Union Street.
“It was an invitation by the Visual Learning Center to homeowners to meet and express their concerns about their neighborhood,” he said. “We talked about issues that could make the neighborhood look better — better street signs and improving patrol times on the street.”
He said drug activity was discussed, but generally, not as it pertains to the neighborhood.
A young man was also near 26 Union St. on the morning after the shooting, walking his dog. He was visibly upset and would not comment, other than to say, “Amanda is safe, somewhere in Brandon.”
Later, the young man said he was Griffin’s cousin and was too upset to talk about the incident.
The incident occurred in the building next to the Union Street Grocery. As customers arrived early Friday morning to get their coffee, many seemed unaware of the tragedy that took place.
One man, who would not give his name, said he had worked with Griffin a few months ago. He said he had heard rumors of previous trouble between the two men.
According to the domestic relief order on file, Corey stated that English had “cut the brake lines on my son’s father’s vehicle and slashed the tires because I had him stay with me because we have a child together and I felt safer with him there.”
Brickell did say that he had been called to Corey’s apartment in the past regarding domestic issues.
“I had spoken with (Corey) regarding relationship complaints about English coming back there and the fact that she did not want him there,” the chief said.
Brickell said the case is closed, save for confirming the chain of events as they took place.
“We’re just verifying that it happened as it was stated,” he said.
Brickell said this was the first murder in Brandon since he joined the force four years ago.
“It is tragic,” he said.
The Brandon murder-suicide capped a deadly evening in western Vermont last Thursday. In downtown Rutland, John Baptie, 24, was stabbed in the neck in broad daylight, allegedly over a $40 debt. Jonathan Bruno, 23, was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Baptie was pronounced dead at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
A second murder-suicide took place in the northwest Bennington County town of Rupert, where Vermont State Police said a young girl awoke to find her mother and her mother’s boyfriend dead. The bodies of Benjamin Ploski, 32, and Felicia Armstrong, 29, were discovered in their home on Watrous Road in Rupert, on Nov. 1. Investigators said the girl heard the two arguing the night before and said that Ploski threatened to shoot Armstrong. Investigators say a rifle was found next to Ploski’s body.