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: Police Canvas Area Of Fatal Shooting  ( 2176 )
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« : July 09, 2005, 03:22:12 PM »


The above photo of Kenny Jerome, taken around 1990 is courtesy of Mary Kay Raymond
From the Saturday, July 9, 2005 issue of The St. Albans Messenger

Investigators keeping lid on probe into man’s death

By LEON THOMPSON
& LEE J. KAHRS
Messenger Staff Writers


SHELDON –– More than 24 hours after Kenneth Jerome’s dead body was found on an East Sheldon Road farm, police still had little information Friday as to how he was fatally shot – or who did it.

During a 4 p.m. press conference at Diamond Hill Custom Heifers Farm, where Jerome died, Vermont State Police (VSP) Lt. Brian Miller called the incident a “suspicious death,” not a homicide.

“It is possible it’s accidental,” Miller said. “It’s not looking like it’s going in that direction at this time, but it is possible.”

Jerome, 33, was fatally shot at 12:50 p.m. Thursday outside a barn at Diamond Hill Farm. He sustained a single gunshot wound to the chest, the state’s attorney said Friday morning. No weapon was found at the scene, and police have not recovered one.

An autopsy on Jerome’s body was finished by late Friday afternoon, but police were still unsure at that time what type of weapon was involved.

Miller said investigators have a general idea of where the shot originated, though he would not disclose the location. He also was unsure whether Jerome was atop farm equipment when he was shot.

At least four people were working on the farm when Jerome died; police speculated none of them witnessed the shooting.

“Right off the top of my head, I’d say no,” said VSP Capt. Tom Bombardier, who co-conducted the press conference. “But if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you who they were or what they saw.”

Bombardier could not confirm that Jerome was a target, but he did rule out that the shooting was random.

“If that were the case, there would have been multiple shots fired, and multiple victims,” the captain said. “There was only one shot with one victim.”

Police interviewed potential witnesses and area residents throughout Friday and “processed the area for physical evidence,” Miller said.

At about 3:15 p.m. Friday, a handful of uniformed and plain-clothed VSP officers gathered at 5496 East Sheldon Road – the home of Stephen Harrness, a Sheldon dairy farmer. While there, they took pictures of the front and rear of the house and entered through the side entrance.

At one point, a uniformed officer climbed up a small hill behind Harrness’ home and drew his gun after a cow rustled in some nearby trees.

When asked why police were at 5496 East Sheldon Road, Bombardier and Miller said they were canvassing the neighborhood. They never mentioned that the home belongs to Stephen Harrness.

“The area consists of a lot of farms and people who work on them,” Miller said.

As reported in Friday’s Messenger, Jerome, also of East Sheldon Road, was linked romantically with Jennifer Miller, 27, the ex-wife of Dennis Harrness, 35, who was convicted in January of counseling Miller to burn their Sheldon mobile home in 2001. Dennis Harrness is Stephen Harrness’ son.

The allegations against Dennis Harrness surfaced during an investigation into a June 12, 2003 barn fire at the Diamond Hill Custom Heifers Farm, owned by Terry Magnan.

After Dennis Harrness’s arrest, Miller testified that members of the Harrness family conspired to commit multiple arsons dating back to 1996 in order to collect insurance money on various properties.

Miller was the primary witness and received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. In April, Dennis Harrness was found guilty and received a two-to-five-year suspended sentence.

In a now closed case, Miller and Jerome gave signed statements last year saying they had been threatened by Harrness’ brother Thomas, also of East Sheldon Road, following Dennis’ 2003 arson arrest.

Thomas repeatedly drove by Miller’s home, screaming, swearing profusely and sticking up his middle finger at her, Miller said.

According to court documents, Miller and Jerome said Thomas Harrness formed his hand into the shape of a gun and pretended to shoot at them outside Miller’s home in March 2004

Thomas Harrness pleaded guilty in September to stalking Miller and received a nine-to-12 month suspended sentence and was released on probation. The state dismissed the original felony charges of obstructing justice and attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Dennis Harrness, also of East Sheldon Road, is set to appear in court again on Aug. 1 for allegedly setting fire to his brother’s home in 1999. A jury draw in the case is set for Aug. 2.

Lt. Miller and Capt. Bombardier would not say whether Jennifer Miller is in protective custody. They do not believe the Magnans are in danger.

“The Magnans have been very helpful in our investigation,” Det. Miller said.

 

Henry Raymond
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