BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (TCD) — A 38-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder for allegedly attacking a woman at a homeless shelter with an ax, killing her.
On Monday, April 3, Brattleboro Police officers responded to a shelter on Royal Road regarding the reported ax attack and found the victim deceased. Officers located a female suspect, Zaaina Asra Zakirrah Mahvish-Jammeh, and took her into custody for second-degree murder.
Charging documents show that police upgraded Mahvish-Jammeh’s charges to first-degree murder. The victim has since been identified as Leah Rosin-Pritchard. According to the probable cause affidavit, officers found Rosin-Pritchard dead in Groundworks Collaborative’s kitchen at approximately 9:30 a.m., and said she “sustained significant injuries to her face, neck, and torso.”
Brattleboro Police located Mahvish-Jammeh in the living room, which is connected to the kitchen, and saw she was allegedly wiping blood off her hands. Police said she “complied” with officers when they handcuffed her.
Officers spoke with another shelter employee who said Mahvish-Jammeh allegedly requested to speak with Rosin-Pritchard specifically, which the employee and victim said was “kind of strange.” Rosin-Pritchard reportedly met with Mahvish-Jammeh in the living room, and soon after, shelter employees reportedly heard screaming. They went to check on the situation and allegedly saw Mahvish-Jammeh hitting Rosin-Pritchard with the ax.
The employee who spoke with police said he and other co-workers “were afraid to get too close because she was still swinging an ax.”
Police obtained surveillance footage from the shelter and said the video does not show the living room, but it did allegedly capture Mahvish-Jammeh “walk toward the office area with a sheet over her shoulders and covering much of the front of her body.”
The sheet supposedly draped over her right shoulder and over her left side. The affidavit alleges it’s “apparent that there is a solid object hidden under the sheet.”
According to the affidavit, video captured the two women speaking, then a “thudding” noise.
Mahvish-Jammeh allegedly told Rosin-Pritchard, “I like you,” but there was a woman named Rose she didn’t like. Mahvish-Jammeh reportedly took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed Rosin-Pritchard as she lay on the ground, then used the ax again.
During the attack, Mahvish-Jammeh reportedly wore overalls, safety glasses, a sweatshirt, and black shoes. Following the killing, she took off the overalls and walked around wearing a “bunny ear headband,” gray sweatpants, blue socks, and slippers while continuing to hold the ax.
Mahvish-Jammeh reportedly purchased the weapon from a hardware store April 1.
WCAX-TV reports Mahvish-Jammeh pleaded not guilty, and the judge ordered her to have a mental health evaluation. She’s currently being held without bail.
According to WCAX, Mahvish-Jammeh had been living at the shelter for several months.
The National Association of Social Workers said Rosin-Pritchard worked as a coordinator at the shelter.
In a statement, Groundworks Collaborative called Rosin-Pritchard “irreplaceable,” adding, “She was a wonderfully strong, positive, beautiful and compassionate person who gave generously of her spirit and skills in support of all Morningside House residents and her professional colleagues. There are no words to express the depth of loss felt by her Groundworks teammates and residents. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and the broader Brattleboro community who knew her.”
The statement continued, “We can unequivocally say that Groundworks will not be the same without Leah. Our staff and program participants are shocked and grieving. We are, at the same time, personally and organizationally impacted and focused on supporting each other while continuing to provide food, shelter, and supportive services to the people and the community who need us.”