Woman found dead had reported threat to police

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Editor's note: This story was updated at 8 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2018.

ARLINGTON —  A 42-year-old Arlington woman whose death is considered by police to be suspicious had told police late last month that her boyfriend had threatened to kill her, or have her killed, if she reported that he had assaulted her.

Karen Boonchuilier was found dead at her home at 182 Warm Brook Road on Friday morning, Vermont State Police said. They said that her death is considered suspicious, and have declined to release further details.

Police would not say Saturday if any arrests had been made.

Last month, Scott D. Topham, 34, who was staying with Boonchuilier, was charged with first-degree aggravated assault with a weapon, first-degree domestic assault and domestic assault. He is being held without bail at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility, pending trial.

According to an affidavit, Boonchuilier told police that Topham threw her across the bedroom and tried to choke her, and after she came to, stood over her with a kitchen knife threatening to kill her. 

Police say the person who reported the incident had received text messages from Boonchuilier, who said Topham had assaulted her and threatened to kill her. 

Boonchuilier told police she was afraid to call for help because she believed Topham would try to kill her, or send someone to kill her. The night in November when the police were called, she waited until Topham was asleep and used his phone to reach out to friends for help, police say. 

Boonchuilier’s name was not reported at the time, because the Banner does not print the names of victims of domestic assault. 

On Saturday, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington completed an autopsy on Boonchuilier’s body. Further analysis is pending, and at this time no cause of death is being released.

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Preliminary investigation indicates this was an isolated incident, and there is no danger to the public, police said.

The death is being investigated by detectives with the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit and its Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Saturday morning, about 24 hours after the body was discovered, police remained at the scene. A Vermont State Police Crime Scene Command Post truck was backed into the front yard, and crime scene technicians went back and forth from the house to the truck. Other investigators were busy in the back yard, which is shielded by a tall wooden fence.

About 10 police vehicles — marked and unmarked units — lined the street in front of the home. The small, white, two-story home is located in a quiet, rural area not far from Arlington Memorial High School.

Most neighbors in the area didn't want to talk on the record, but said a woman had just moved into the house a few months ago from Massachusetts.

Jamie Fiegel, who lives next door, and other neighbors said there had been some police activity at the house over the past few months.

Fiegel said the woman who moved in was the daughter of one of the owners of the home.

"They were pretty quiet and kept to themselves," Fiegel said.

Anyone with information that might help the investigation is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police Shaftsbury barracks at 802-442-5421.

Darren Marcy of the Manchester Journal and Christie Wisniewski and David LaChance of the Bennington Banner contributed reporting.


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