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Ex-Husband Who Attacked Carmen Tarleton Dies in Pennsylvania Prison

  • In Vermont District Court in Chelsea on Feb. 11, 2009, Herbert Rodgers gives a statement during his sentencing for maiming his ex-wife, Carmen Tarleton. Rodgers beat her and poured industrial strength lye on most of her body. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kesstan Blandin leads her sister, Carmen Tarleton, after she testified in her attacker's sentencing in Chelsea, Vt., on Feb. 11, 2009. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Carmen Tarleton, of Fairlee, Vt., left, talks with Kris Moody, of White River Junction, Vt., before the service at the United Methodist Church in White River Junction on February 19, 2017. Tarleton, the victim of a 2007 lye attack by her second husband Herbert Rodgers, spoke to congregation about acceptance and forgiveness. Moody is the oldest daughter of Tarleton’s first husband. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Herbert Rodgers of White River Junction, Vt., listens to the prosecutor during his bail and extradition hearing at Lebanon District Court on June 11, 2007. Rodgers was arraigned in Chelsea, Vt., later in the day. (Valley News - Denise Farwell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, December 18, 2017

Waterbury, Vt. — The ex-husband of Carmen Tarleton, who doused her with industrial-strength lye in a horrific case of domestic abuse, has died in prison.

Herbert Rodgers was serving a 30- to 70-year sentence for the 2007 attack inside Tarleton’s Thetford home.

Tarleton suffered severe chemical burns to 90 percent of her body and lost her eyesight, but survived. She went on to be recognized nationally as an advocate for victims of domestic assault. She underwent a full face transplant in 2013.

Rodgers, who was serving his sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill in Pennsylvania, died around 11 a.m. on Monday at Harrisburg (Pa.) Hospital from a “medical issue,” according to a Monday news release from Vermont prison officials.

“The cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the near future,” Vermont Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Mike Touchette said in an email on Monday afternoon. “Both Pennsylvania and Vermont will begin internal reviews and part of that review will include looking at medical requests made by Mr. Rodgers.” An autopsy is pending, the release states.

Reached by telephone on Monday, Tarleton said Rodgers’ death doesn’t bring her much closure, because she already forgave Rodgers several years ago.

“I have fully forgiven him and I don’t have the same attitude that a lot of people have with his treatment of me,” Tarleton said. “I have moved on so well and in so many ways. I feel like, for me, it ends a big chapter in my life.”

The only medical condition she knew Rodgers had was Type 2 diabetes.

Rodgers pleaded guilty in 2009 to attacking Tarleton. He broke into her home in June 2007 looking for a man he believed she was seeing, but found only Tarleton and her two daughters. He beat Tarleton and covered her in the caustic lye, leaving her with burns over most of her body.

During his sentencing hearing in 2009, Rodgers told Tarleton she “didn’t deserve it.”

Rodgers is the third Vermont inmate with a tie to the Pennsylvania prison to die in about nine weeks, according to information compiled by VtDigger.

Timothy Adams, 59, of East Fairlee, and Vermont resident Roger Brown, 68, both died from lack of treatment, a prisoners’ rights advocate and someone else familiar with the situation told VtDigger in November.

Adams died at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., in early November after being transferred back because his cancer was incurable, Vermont Defender General Matthew Valerio told VtDigger.

Brown, who also had cancer, died from an “egregious” lack of care at the Pennsylvania prison, Vermont Prisoners’ Rights Office lawyer Kelly Green told VtDigger.

Before his imprisonment, Rodgers worked as a sales associate at JCPenney in West Lebanon. Tarleton was a nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

Tarleton and Rodgers married in California in 2001 and moved to the Upper Valley in June 2006, according to court records. The couple separated in February 2007 and Rodgers sought a divorce, which he soon after tried to rescind.

He attacked her that June. In addition to the burns and vision loss, Tarleton suffered a broken arm and a fractured eye socket.

In 2013, she underwent a grueling 15-hour, face transplant procedure at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The surgery was a success, and Tarleton continues to tell her story today.

She spoke at the United Methodist Church of White River Junction in February, a place she had given a speech in 2011, prior to her transplant surgery.

Realizing just how far she has come since the 2007 attack has helped her heal and forgive, she said at that time.

“That doesn’t condone what he did but I didn’t take it personally. I know I didn’t deserve that,” she told those in attendance. “I knew there was a reason for the event and even though it wasn’t fair … I was faced with it. It wasn’t going to go away because it wasn’t fair.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.