Victim died of strangulation, suffocation, body discovered by schoolchildren
BPD detective Lt. Mike Beliveau yesterday announces arrest of Claude Mumbere of Burlington (see here in 2011 NASA photo) for murder of a Burlington woman July 7.
Claude Mumbere, 29, Burlington, was arrested and charged Monday with second degree aggravated murder in the July 7 death of Kelly Cusson of Burlington, Burlington police said at a press conference yesterday.
Cusson’s death in a secluded area of South Champlain Street followed an “intentional and targeted meeting” of her and Mumbere, police said. The two walked consensually to the place where Cusson died. But police would not speculate on the nature of their relationship.
Cusson’s body was found by schoolchildren, who reported it to an adult, who told police. “The officers saw signs of potential sexual assault,” Beliveau said. An autopsy revealed bodily evidence “indicative of foul play, including strangulation and smothering.”
A reporter at the press conference noted that Mumbere had more than a dozen court cases, including lewd and lascivious behavior, going back to 2020. Some are still pending, due to mental health questions.
State’s Attorney Sarah George confirmed the case file concerns about Mumbere’s mental health. Several cases, “all non-violent,” are pending due to Covid-era backlog, she also confirmed.
Mumbere is currently incarcerated as police continue to develop the case against him.
Who is Claude Mumbere?
Mumbere’s family moved to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005, according to media reports. They arrived in Burlington several years later. Mumbere’s father, a noted playwright and author, was a visiting scholar at St. Michaels College.
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree as Mumbere won a two-time winner (2011 and 2012) Vermont Poetry Outloud contest, for which he was praised in a resolution by the Vermont Legislature. For the 2011 poetry contest he recited “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas, “I’m a Fool to Love You” by Cornelius Eady, and “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by 16th-century Christopher Marlowe. A BHS varsity soccer player and honors English student, he graduated from Ithaca College, where he was a member of the African Students’ Association.
According to his Linked In site, his work history includes:
- Associate, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in Burlington, Feb 2018 – Present (5 years, 6 months)
- VPIRG Canvasser, during the summer of 2016, which he described as “statewide fundraising and political lobbying for legislations that would push for a carbon tax and an “Energy Independent Vermont.”
- Bank Teller in South Burlington, 2014-2016
- Professional actor at Studio Matejka (Grotowski Institute) in Poland, 2014-2015
- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Voice Over Artist/Narrator, June 2011 for a NASA documentary titled “LOOP the Movie.”
His Facebook site contains three recent posts of interest: in November 2022, he wrote, “My hatred for this land I find myself in grows stronger everyday.” Earlier that year, he posted a photo of him holding a small revolver.