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Woodward investigation expected to take weeks

December 15, 2001

Southern Vermont Bureau

BRATTLEBORO — Assistant Attorney General Cindy Maguire said Friday that information to the public about the shooting death of Robert A. Woodward would be limited in order to avoid potential problems with a grand jury later in the investigation.

Maguire, the assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, said a decision had not been made to convene a grand jury into the Woodward shooting. And she said it was always an option to move such a grand jury out of the county, if there was concern about publicity about the case.

Woodward, 37, of Bellows Falls, was shot to death by two Brattleboro police officers at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in West Brattleboro on Dec. 2. The two officers, Terrance Parker and Marshall Hapgood, returned to their patrol duties this week.

Woodward, a social worker who worked with special needs children, had gone to the church seeking political sanctuary, claiming he was being pursued by the FBI and the CIA.

The FBI’s special agent for Vermont, John Cavanaugh, denied this week that it was at all interested in Woodward or had talked to him. Woodward had claimed after he was shot that it was a “political assassination.”

Woodward’s friends and family have said that he had no history of mental illness.

Maguire said it would be weeks before the investigation was completed. Both the attorney general’s office and the Windham County state’s attorney’s office are conducting what they are calling independent but parallel investigations. Both are relying on interviews conducted by the Vermont State Police.

“It’s more prudent to have those individuals hear the evidence in that setting, rather than piecemeal media accounts,” Maguire said. “In fairness to both the public and the officers, we do need to rely on all the evidence

“We are investigating a homicide. What we need to decide is whether there was justifiable use of deadly force. We cannot reach a conclusion until we have all the relevant information.”