Students and staff are shocked and saddened in the New Hampshire school district where two of the alleged assailants in the Mont Vernon attacks went to school -- along with the 11-year-old girl who was seriously injured when her mother was slain early Sunday morning, the school superintendent said this afternoon.
"People are just stunned, first with the news of one victim, and to understand that this was allegedly caused in part by two of the students from one of our schools," said Mary Jennings, superintendent of schools for SAU 39.
SAU 39 includes both Souhegan High School in Amherst, where William Marks and Quinn Glover, two of the four teenagers charged in the case, were seniors and the Village School in Mont Vernon, where the 11-year-old girl went to school.
Jennings, who went to the Village School Monday and talked to students and staff, said that the girl, whose name has not been released, was known as a "very strong, happy young lady," who had just been at a school dance the night before.
"She was very engaged in school and very happy with her friends," she said. Jennings said the girl was "greatly missed by her classmates." She remains in stable condition with very serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital in Boston, a prosecutor said today.
Jennings declined to characterize or describe Marks and Glover, who are facing charges of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, and armed robbery.
"They were students who were seniors and were on track to graduate this year," she said. "They've been students with us throughout their careers."
Jennings said counselors were available at all the district's schools to help students and staff with their reactions to the news.
"I think that the towns of Amherst and Mont Vernon are very close-knit communities and, in some ways, that's very helpful in a situation like this because people come together to support one another," she said.
Meanwhile, in Mont Vernon, resident Angela McLaughlin, said, "We're all just pretty shaken up and appalled that something so horrific could happen here. It's a quiet little country town. It should not happen anywhere, but the fact it happened here is really quite disturbing."
McLaughlin said the town, with a population of 2,000 to 2,200, was a place where "everyone knows everyone and always looks out for everyone.
Mont Vernon is a small bedroom community with one little general store that is closed for renovation, she said. Some people have lived in town for generations, while others commute to jobs in communities in southern New Hampshire and even to Boston.
"It's a real lovely little place to live. When something like this happens, it kind of shakes you," she said.
The four teenagers, whom prosecutors said chose their victims at random, allegedly broke into a ranch-style home in Mont Vernon at 4 a.m. Sunday, killing Kim Cates, 42, and severely injuring her daughter. The four were arraigned today in Milford District Court.
Steven Spader, 17, and Christopher Gribble, 19, both of Brookline, N.H., the other two teenagers accused of being involved in the attacks, are facing charges that include murder and attempted murder.
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