Police: This Was No Accident; Suspect in 2011 Shooting Pleads Not Guilty to Attempted Murder
Emily Y. Perkins is led into the courtroom at the Windsor Superior Court at the beginning of her arraignment in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 6, 2014. Perkins was arrested Wednesday afternoon and is being charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting Emma Jozefiak, who was found injured and unresponsive in a trailer in Bethel, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2011.
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Gunshot victim Emma Jozefiak leaves the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., following the arriagnment of Emily Y. Perkins on Feb. 6, 2014. Perkins is accused of attempting to murder Jozefiak, who was found in a Bethel, Vt., trailer with a serious gunshot wound on Nov. 11, 2011.
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Former Vermont State Rep. David Ainsworth, and Royalton Selectwoman Peggy Ainsworth wait outside the courtroom following the arriagnment of Emily Perkins, daughter of Peggy Ainsworth, and Stepdaughter of David Ainsworth at the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 6, 2014.
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White River Junction — An affidavit filed in support of the second-degree attempted murder charge against Emily Y. Perkins makes clear that forensic evidence, her constantly changing story and cell phone records convinced investigators that she intentionally shot Emma Jozefiak in Bethel in 2011.
What the police account doesn’t explain, however, is why no suspect has been identified in connection with the murder of Scott Hill, who was shot and killed on the same day with the same weapon and in the same residence.
Police allege the motivation for the shooting of Jozefiak was the theft of dozens of prescription pain pills, which Perkins allegedly attempted to sell afterward.
According to the affidavit, Perkins, 27, of Tunbridge, gave police an ever-shifting account of her relationship with Jozefiak and Hill before ultimately telling police she “accidentally” shot Jozefiak, but only after witnessing the teen shoot Hill.
However, Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill disputed that in court, contending that the forensic evidence and other facts in the case, including phone records, don’t corroborate Perkins’ claims. Cahill said in an interview Thursday that Jozefiak is not being investigated as a suspect in Hill’s death.
“Another reason why this is not an accident is that the defendant, Ms. Perkins, left Emma Jozefiak for dead,” Cahill said in court. “She didn’t run up to Ms. Jozefiak and say, ‘Oh my god, are you OK?’ She left her for dead, and that’s something that she admits to the police.”
Perkins, who was arrested Wednesday, pleaded not guilty in Windsor Superior Court on Thursday to attempted second-degree murder, burglary, petit larceny, attempted narcotic sale and accessory before the fact of a narcotic sale.
Judge Harold Eaton, Jr., ordered Perkins be held on $75,000 cash or surety bail. As of Thursday night, Perkins was still at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., according to an inmate locator.
According to a police affidavit released Thursday, Perkins’ account of her involvement in the case changed dramatically over the course of six interviews with police in the weeks and months after the shooing.
On Nov. 11, 2011, police responded to Hill’s trailer on Dartt Hill Road in Bethel at the request of Jozefiak’s parents. Hill, 48, was found on the floor shot to death, and Jozefiak, who had turned 19 just a few days earlier, was nearby, unresponsive but alive, with a gunshot wound to the head.
When she was first contacted by police Nov. 18, Perkins denied any involvement in the case, or that she even knew much about Hill. The next day, she gave police an alibi, which didn’t check out.
Police eventually searched phone records and found a series of text messages between her phone and Hill’s beginning on Nov. 6 concerning drug transactions and the possible exchange of a handgun for drugs, according to the police affidavit.
By the end of January 2012, after being confronted with evidence that conflicted with earlier statements, Perkins had changed her story considerably, including blaming Jozefiak for Hill’s death, according to the affidavit.
Perkins eventually told police that she went to Hill’s residence on Nov. 8, 2011, and purchased 17 Percocet and left a .22 caliber pistol there as collateral for five more pills. After leaving, she realized she left her cell phone at the residence and went back to retrieve it, according to the affidavit.
Perkins told police she had reached the porch when she heard what she thought was an argument inside. Perkins said she stepped inside the door and saw Jozefiak and Hill facing each other in the kitchen, and that Jozefiak then shot Hill. When Hill fell to the floor, Perkins said the gun jammed, and that Jozefiak cleared the jam and continued to shoot at Hill four or five more times, according to the police affidavit. Perkins told police that Jozefiak was in a rage like she had never seen.
Perkins told police she then stepped toward Jozefiak and took the gun away without a fight. Perkins told police she was scared and shaking and was pointing the gun at Jozefiak when it accidentally went off twice. Jozefiak slumped over in a chair and Perkins left the residence without checking to see if she were still alive, according to the affidavit.
Perkins told police she then took the gun and Hill’s supply of pain pills and fled. As she walked toward her car, she told police the gun accidentally went off again.
Phone records show that within 15 minutes of leaving Hill’s trailer on Nov. 8, Perkins sent out text messages to several phone numbers that read “got thirties for forty,” referring to 30 milligram pills of Percocet that she planned to sell for $40, according to the police report.
Authorities claim that Perkins’ description of events don’t match with forensic evidence found at the scene and that they doubt that Jozefiak could have fired the shots that killed Hill from where Perkins claimed she had seen her standing with the gun.
According to the affidavit, Perkins, a mother of two, told police she then went home and didn’t tell anyone about what occurred because she was afraid she would be blamed for “everything that had happened.” That same day, she cleaned and reloaded the handgun and then placed it back where it was typically stored, according to her story to police.
Forensic tests later indicated that Perkins’ gun — a .22 caliber High Standard Dura-Matic semiautomatic pistol — was the same one that was used to shoot Jozefiak and Hill.
Police conducted at least six interviews with Perkins in connection with the case, and each time, her story varied in some way.
In one later interview, Perkins also told police she sent a text message to Jozefiak days after the shooting asking about her whereabouts in an effort to deflect scrutiny from herself, according to the police report. Perkins later told police she sent the text because “she thought she was going to get into trouble for everything that had happened.” Police found the text message in Jozefiak’s cell phone, and it was received on Nov. 10, the day Jozefiak’s parents reported her missing.
In an interview on Jan. 26, 2012, before she admitted to an accidental shooting, Perkins told police she returned to Hill’s house on Nov. 10 to retrieve the handgun that had been left as collateral for drugs. When she knocked on the door, no one answered and the door was locked. She told police that she went to the front of the residence and looked in the window and saw her handgun on the kitchen counter. Perkins told police she entered the house through a window and found Hill lying face down in a pool of blood. She said she saw Jozefiak, but did not check to see if she was alive.
Early on, Perkins told investigators that she was on a job interview at a West Lebanon restaurant on the day of the shooting, but managers at the restaurant later told police the interview had occurred Nov. 7, a day prior to the shooting, according to the affidavit.
Perkins also told police she had barely known Hill, but police found records of text messages in Hill’s phone from Perkins from as early as a month before the shootings.
Perkins also told investigators she had no experience or knowledge of firearms in general, but during interviews, she was able to explain how to load the gun, check to see if it was loaded and work the safety, according to the affidavit.
Police interviewed Jozefiak in March and April of 2012, and she told police that she knew her injuries were from being shot, but she didn’t know if she had been told this or if it came from memory, according to the police affidavit.
Jozefiak said she recalls the events of Nov. 7, her birthday, and she spent time with friends before going to her father’s house in Bridgewater. Later that evening, she contacted Hill and asked him to pick her up at her father’s house.
Jozefiak told police that she remembered returning to Hill’s house that night, using Percocet and playing cribbage with him in the kitchen, according to the police affidavit, but that is her last memory until after the shooting.
According to the affidavit, Jozefiak told police she had no experience shooting semiautomatic firearms, which police argued in the affidavit made it unlikely that Jozefiak would have known how to use Perkins’ gun or clear a jam.
Perkins was arrested two weeks after her husband, Michael Perkins, Jr., died after a 10-year battle with cancer. The timing of his death and her arrest were no coincidence. Cahill said after the hearing that the Vermont State Police made the decision to “hold off” on arresting Perkins to allow her to spend time with her husband during his final moments, and Cahill said he didn’t question police’s decision.
Cahill said he didn’t know how long police knew they had enough evidence to arrest Perkins or exactly how long police had delayed an arrest because of Michael Perkins’ health.
“It’s somewhat of a unique (situation) that we have somebody who is accused of attempted murder and they’re married, and they have somebody who has a spouse who has brain cancer,” Cahill said after the hearing. “It’s not something that we’ve dealt with in the past, so I can’t say there’s a precedence for it.”
Perkins’ two young daughters are staying with her mother and stepfather.
While Perkins’ arrest answers some questions in a case that had gone unsolved for two years, the question of who killed Hill has not been addressed by police.
“The state is not prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of murder regarding Scott Hill, which would amount to an intentional, deliberate and willful killing of Scott Hill by a specific person,” Cahill said after the hearing.
There is no statute of limitations for the prosecution of murder.
“There’s always a possibility that more charges could be forthcoming against Ms. Perkins or someone else related to this event, but at this point it’s still an active investigation (into Scott Hill’s death),” Cahill told a group of reporters.
Perkins was arrested on Wednesday and held overnight without bail. In Vermont, defendants can be denied bail if an offense is punishable by life imprisonment, which is the case in attempted second-degree murder.
However, Cahill acknowledged Perkins has ties to the community and children to care for and recommended $100,000 bail at Thursday’s hearing.
Defense attorney Devin McLaughlin asked the judge to just release Perkins on her conditions of release, noting that Perkins might not be able to post a substantial bail amount.
Ultimately the judge set Perkins bail at $75,000.
Perkins is also charged with burglary and a petit larceny charge for entering Tracy’s Midway Station in Sharon in December 2011 for allegedly stealing money and cigarettes. Perkins told police at the time that she did not have a lot of money because she was purchasing a lot of pills to support her drug habit and was desperate for money, according to a police affidavit.
Perkins also faces two felony charges for attempting to sell the Percocet that she took from Hill’s residence.
Police are still asking any members of the public who might have information about the murder of Hill to come forward and share information through the Vermont State Police tip line at 802-241-5355 or submit an anonymous tip at www.vtips.info.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.