Vermont police believe they have found the body of a beloved 33-year-old science teacher who went missing on Sunday. NECN's Jack Thurston reports.
Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET: Vermont police have confirmed that they have found the body of Melissa Jenkins, a 33-year-old school teacher who had been reported missing.
On Sunday evening, a friend of Jenkins went looking for her and found her Suzuki Grand Vitara a short distance from her home. The car was still running and Jenkins' 2-year-old son in the back seat. Jenkins was nowhere to be found.
Vermont state police say there were signs of a struggle but they wouldn't go into further detail.
On Monday afternoon, as Vermont state police searched along a remote road, they noticed a wooded section that appeared to have been disturbed.
After a brief search, detectives found a body in the woods.
Jenkins, a single mother, taught science and used to coach basketball at the prestigious St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont, which counts former President Calvin Coolidge among its alumni. The boy's father, B.J. Robertson, would not comment on Jenkins' disappearance.
"She's got a real gift with students who either haven't liked science before or learning science doesn't come easy to them," headmaster Tom Lovett said. "She's got a real gift with them."
Between 100 and 200 students gathered at the academy Monday night after the news came out that a body had been found, the Associated Press reported. Classes were canceled Tuesday; a vigil was scheduled for that evening.
Jenkins grew up in Danville, a tight-knit town west of St. Johnsbury where she attended the Danville School, the AP reported.
Violent crime is rare in this part of Vermont, the AP reported.
In September 2010, Pat O'Hagan, a 78-year-old grandmother, disappeared from her home in Sheffield, about 20 miles north of St. Johnsbury. Her body was found almost a month later about 10 miles from her home in Wheelock.
Police have ruled the death a homicide, but no arrests have been made. Authorities have not said whether they believe Jenkins' case is connected.
After an extensive missing persons search that lasted less than 24 hours, police have now focused all of their attention on searching for Jenkins’ killer.
“Although I cannot disclose the details of how the body was found, or the condition of the body, this death is considered suspicious,” an official said.
A family friend said Jenkins left her home that night to meet up and help someone out.
"She would do anything for anybody. She definitely will be greatly missed," Ron Craig, of Peacham, told the Associated Press.
Craig, who said he and his wife occasionally babysat Jenkins' son, said it's scary that police did not know if this was an isolated incident. "We've been locking our doors all the time because you just don't know what's going to happen," he said.
Police believed the crime occurred sometime between 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Sunday night.
NBC station WHDH and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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