Vermont Woman Who Shot and Killed Four Left Threatening Message

By Ivan Pentchoukov

Hours before she killed three of her relatives and a social worker, Jody Herring left an expletive-laden message on an answering machine, according to the court testimony of Tiffany Herring-Flint, Herring’s cousin.

In the voice message, Jody Herring told Herring-Flint’s mom and aunt to stop calling the Department for Children and Families, Associated Press reported. Police say Herring believed that her family played a part in the loss of custody of her nine-year-old daughter.

“You might want to stop … calling DCF or I’m going to come there and shoot your brains out,” Tiffany Herring-Flint testified she heard Jody Herring, her cousin, saying.

Herring was arrested on Aug. 7 in 2015 after she shot and killed Lara Sobel, a social worker with Vermont’s DCF. Sobel was leaving work in Barre, Vermont, when she was killed.

Police say that Herring killed her three relatives in their Berlin, Vermont, home before she killed Sobel. Herring-Flint found the bodies of her mom, Rhonda Herring; aunt, Regina Herring; and grandmother, Julie Falzarano, the day after Herring shot Sobel.

Court documents say that Herring targeted her relatives and the social worker as revenge for losing custody of her daughter.

Herring-Flint’s testimony came on the first of five days of hearings for Herring’s sentencing. Herring pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder in July.

Herring’s plea deal included a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for the second-degree murders. Superior Court Judge John Pacht is to decide if she will also be sentenced to life without parole for the first-degree murder.

Karlyn Sizemore, a witness, said she walked past Herring moments before she murdered Sobel. Sizemore heard two shots fired and saw Herring restrained by bystanders until police arrived.

“She was jumping around the parking lot, screaming, (waving) the rifle around,” Sizemore testified.

“They didn’t listen to me. It was my 9-year-old daughter. They got what they deserved,” Sizemore said she heard Herring say.

Herring’s defense attorney called up her two aunts as witnesses.

The aunts testified that they grew up in a family with 16 children and were sexually abused by their father on a regular basis. They said that they were also victims of other emotional and physical abuse.

The aunts said that Herring changed after her father committed suicide when she was five years old.

Defense attorney David Sleigh said that Herring went through a mental health crisis prior to the murders. She was released early from a 90-day confinement. Herring would have still been in confinement on the day of the killings if she were not released early.