BRATTLEBORO — Police have identified the victim of a Monday, April 3 murder in Brattleboro as Leah Rosin-Pritchard, a 36-year-old director of a homeless shelter operated by the Groundworks Collaborative.
According to court documents, Zaaina Asra Zakirrah Mahvish-Jammeh, a 38-year-old resident of the Morningside House, a year-round shelter for homeless people, attacked Rosin-Pritchard with an ax in the facility’s living room, where she died.
Mahvish-Jammeh was arrested on second degree murder charges and held without bail, Brattleboro police said. In court, her lawyer entered a plea of innocent to a first degree murder charge. If convicted, she could face 35 years to life in prison.
“Leah Rosin-Pritchard is irreplaceable,” the Groundworks Collaborative said in a statement. “She was a wonderfully strong, positive, beautiful and compassionate person who gave generously of her spirit and skills in support of all Morningside House residents and her professional colleagues.”
Mahvish-Jammeh specifically requested to meet with Rosin-Pritchard in the living room before the attack, according to court documents. Other media sources said Mahvish-Jammeh purchased the axe at a hardware store on April 1. Court affidavits cited in a Keene Sentinel news report said Rosin-Pritchard suffered cuts to her face, neck and torso. Police found her dead with Mahvish-Jammeh wiping blood off her hands when police arrived mid-morning following a 9:30 call.
Mahvish-Jammeh had been staying at the 30-bed shelter since last summer, the affidavit reportedly said. Her lawyer reportedly entered a not guilty plea to a first-degree murder charge. She is being evaluated for mental health and capacity to stand trial.
“I heard screaming,” a witness said in a Brattleboro Reformer report. “I come down the stairs. I look around right by where the dining room table is, and there’s a body on the floor, and I couldn’t even tell who it was. That’s how badly smashed the face was.”
“She looked up at me and then went down to beat [the victim] a couple more times in the face,” he said.
Police photos of the suspect were unavailable, but photos from her court appearance were published in local media.
In response to the killing, the National Association of Social Workers is calling for Congress to enact legislation to improve social work safety, according to its Facebook site:
“NASW offers its condolences to the family and colleagues of Vermont social worker Leah Rosin-Pritchard, MSW, who was murdered by a client on Monday while working as a coordinator at a shelter in Brattleboro. NASW is advocating for lawmakers to reintroduce legislation to improve social work safety during this session of Congress. A national social work public opinion survey from Ipsos revealed 84 percent of Americans support such social work safety legislation.”
It was the second slaying in a week in Brattleboro. Tamico Williams, 21, of Hartford CT was shot to death March 30 in what police are calling a ‘targeted killing.’
– Sourced from Brattleboro Police Dept., Newport Dispatch, Keene Sentinel, Brattleboro Reformer