BURLINGTON -- A husband and wife from Essex who have been missing for more than a year were abducted and murdered by a random stranger, and a suspect is in custody in another state on other charges, state and federal authorities said Friday.
Officials wouldn’t release the name of the person believed to have killed Bill and Lorraine Currier, who were last seen leaving their Burlington jobs on June 8, 2011. Authorities also wouldn’t say where that person is in custody or on what charges.
State and federal officials said they expect the suspect will be charged in the Curriers’ deaths, but they gave no indication when that would happen.
"The public does have a right to know," said Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan. "At this time, for a number of reasons, it’s not the appropriate time, but I think the purpose of today was to inform the public, to make that declaration that the Curriers were in fact murdered, that it was a random act and that we believe the person responsible is in custody."
The news conference was held at the office of Vermont’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin, who made clear the case is being treated as a federal crime. He didn’t say why.
Bill Currier, 50, and Lorraine, 55, were described by the authorities as unassuming "homebodies" who seldom ventured far from home. Bill was an animal care technician at the University of Vermont, and Lorraine worked at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
The telephone line to their house had been cut, and a window in a door into the house from the garage was found to be broken. Their car was later found about three-quarters of a mile away at an apartment complex.
"There was nothing the Curriers did in their personal lives that contributed to their deaths," said Donovan. "To our knowledge, there’s no prior connection between the Curriers and the individual in custody."
In April 2012, police received a tip that led them to search an Essex location where a house had been demolished. Officials then spent 11 weeks searching a Coventry landfill looking for the Curriers’ remains. It was believed to be the largest search in Vermont history.
The couple’s bodies haven’t been found.
During Friday’s 40-minute news conference, state and federal officials repeatedly said "no comment" when asked for additional details of the case.
"I’m sorry we can’t provide more information," Coffin said. "We do the public’s work and the public has a right to know what’s going on, but the public’s work requires us sometimes to operate in a situation where we can’t provide full information to the media or to the public generally."
In a statement read at the news conference, the Currier family said they were grateful for the support they have received from the community and the efforts by police to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Bill and Lorraine.
"Our family circle has a huge gap with the loss of Bill and Lorraine. We need time to absorb this and to grieve," the statement said. "We haven’t yet made any plans for a public memorial service, but we ask that all of you respond to this random act of violence with daily random acts of kindness in their names."