Samantha Danforth

A photograph from the cellphone of William McLaughlin allegedly shows McLaughlin and Samantha Danforth placing a plastic bag over the head of a female victim.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

BENNINGTON — A Pownal woman wanted for her part in an alleged assault that was caught in a disturbing batch of photos now faces extradition to New York for allegedly shooting someone in the chest in New York City.

Samantha Danforth, 33, was being sought by Bennington Police for her role in the assault in which the victim, whose hands were restrained and had a plastic bag held tightly over her head, struggled against another individual, William McLaughlin.

Photographs show Danforth smiling and sticking her tongue out in the background.

Facing charges of accessory to aggravated assault in that case, Danforth skipped her court date and fled Vermont to New York City, police said, where she allegedly shot someone in the chest. According to police, she then fled back to Bennington, where she was arrested and charged as an accessory to aggravated assault in the case involving McLaughlin and the photo session that appears to show the crime.

Danforth was set to be arraigned on the accessory to aggravated assault charge March 6 but left the state before her arraignment took place. Judge Kerry McDonald-Cady issued an arrest warrant two days later.

New York City authorities contacted the Bennington Police Department late last week to inform them that Danforth was now the prime suspect in an attempted murder there. They said she had allegedly returned to the Bennington area — where police found her and placed her under arrest Monday on the Vermont charge.

Danforth was arraigned on the assault charge Tuesday and held without bail as she awaits a resolution to the Vermont charges and, later, extradition to New York City to face the attempted murder charge. Details of that case were not immediately available.

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

According to a police affidavit in the Vermont case, a search warrant for the cellphone of McLaughlin turned up a series of 13 photographs of a woman tied by the wrists with a plastic garbage bag over her head, the bag tied tightly around her neck. The first six photographs show a pink blanket being held behind the victim’s head while she sits in a chair. The rest of the photographs show the blanket on the floor in front of Danforth. The pictures were all time-stamped on May 5, 2022.

The person taking the photos has not yet been identified. No motive for the incident was mentioned in court documents.

The second suspect seen in the photographs, McLaughlin, has a scheduled hearing on Friday related to the incident. He is being held without bail at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport on several other charges, including burglary into an occupied dwelling with a deadly weapon, larceny, and aggravated assault, all related to this case.

New York City authorities have officially requested Danforth be extradited to face the attempted murder charge. Vermont statute states that she must resolve her Vermont charges, including any jail time if convicted, before she faces extradition to New York City.

An internet search of Danforth revealed a Facebook page that lists her as a Bennington native, a former student at Mount Anthony Union High School, and an employee at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

Danforth is being held without bail at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington. She faces a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars if convicted on the aggravated assault charge. Once extradited to New York, Danforth faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if convicted on the attempted murder charge.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us.
We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.