An autopsy was performed in the case of an attractive 33-year-old teacher and single-mother who was found dead on March 26 in a rural community in Vermont. Melissa Jenkins vanished on a dark road on the night of Sunday, March 25, having left her vehicle with the engine running. Residents of St. Johnsbury, a small town just 40 miles from the Canadian border, are stunned and outraged at her disappearance and death. Jenkins was a teacher at the exclusive St. Johnsbury Academy and moonlighted as a waitress to support herself and her two-year-son.
Chief medical examiner Dr. Steven Shapiro in Burlington completed an autopsy on Jenkins’ body on the afternoon of March 27 and has ruled her death a homicide. However, the cause of her death has not been released. "The cause of death is being withheld as to not inhibit the progress of the investigation," state police Detective Sgt. Walter Smith said.
Jenkins’ body was found approximately 16 hours after her disappearance on the evening of March 25. Her Suzuki Grand Vitara SUV was found earlier with her son inside at a short distance from their home. The boy’s father, B.J. Robertson has not commented on the death but that his son is not able to provide details about his mother’s disappearance.
According to ABC News, Robertson said he has “just been loving him when I am with him.” The tyke is in good condition and staying with a family friend.
"I cannot disclose the details of how the body was found or the condition of the body, but this death is considered suspicious," Det. Sgt. Walter Smith told the media on March 26. "We don't know if it's an isolated incident, we expect the public to use all diligence and vigilance while out and about."
Dozens of friends and family gathered at a church on the evening of March 26 at a memorial for the young science teacher. Jenkins was a popular teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy and known for her empathy with students. School headmaster Thomas Lovett said of her "She's got a real gift with students who either haven't liked science before or learning science doesn't come easy to them," adding "She's got a real gift with them."
Besides teaching and waitressing, Jenkins was also studying towards a master’s degree. She had also worked as a basketball coach and dormitory supervisor until the birth of her son. She worked part-time at the Creamery Restaurant in the nearby town of Danville.
Jenkin’s Suzuki SUV was found on the evening of March 25 where evidence of a struggle was found. A friend had unsuccessfully tried to locate her and called police. Her vehicle was found later that evening. Her body has since been found in Barnet, a town nearby, and police suspect foul play. Jenkins had no restraining orders against anyone at the time. While family member believe she may have driven her vehicle to help someone, the identity of that person or persons is still unknown. According to a relative, Eric Berry – whose daughter is Jenkins’ goddaughter – said "She left her house with the idea, I think, to try to help somebody, and that's as far as I'm going to go with that, because I don't want to damage any investigation."
St. Johnsbury Academy was established in the 1840s. President Calvin Coolidge was a student there in the 1900s. , whose alumni include former President Calvin Coolidge.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Vermont State Police in St. Johnsbury at 802-748-3111. Police are also looking to speak with anyone who may have driven on Goss Hollow Road in St. Johnsbury on the evening of March 25, between 7:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.