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Bradford, Vt., woman accused of kidnapping, forcing drive across state lines

  • Jennifer Fornwalt (Hartford Police photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/29/2021 4:03:23 PM
Modified: 4/29/2021 10:04:17 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A 48-year-old Vermont woman was ordered held without bail Thursday after she was accused of entering a man’s parked car in Hanover and forcing him to drive her across state lines to White River Junction.

Jennifer Fornwalt, of Bradford, pleaded not guilty during a virtual hearing in Windham Superior Court to a felony charge of kidnapping and misdemeanor charges of interference with access to emergency services and possessing stolen property. Superior Court Judge John Treadwell ordered her held without bail at Southern State Correctional Facility pending another hearing to determine the weight of the evidence against her.

Fornwalt, who appeared at the hearing virtually from the prison, did not speak except to ask about the outcome of the arraignment. The remainder of Fornwalt’s case will be heard in Windsor Superior Court.

The charges stem from an investigation Hartford police led Wednesday after getting a call from Lucas Parmenter, saying a woman had forced him to drive from the Hanover Irving Station to the Super 8 Motel in White River Junction, according to an affidavit written by Hartford Police Officer Aleya Leombruno.

Police learned that earlier that day, Fornwalt had checked herself out against doctor’s advice from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where she was being treated for a drug overdose, the affidavit said. Following her checkout, Fornwalt had refused to leave the property and had to be escorted off by security, the affidavit said.

After she left DHMC, Fornwalt walked to the Irving gas station on Lebanon Street in Hanover and asked several people for a ride. When she didn’t get one, Fornwalt entered one parked car at the gas station and stole a loaded .45-caliber pistol before entering Parmenter’s vehicle and grabbing his cellphone, according to police.

While she was still in the back seat, Parmenter returned to the car and began to drive away until he noticed his phone was missing and pulled over, the affidavit said. When he turned around, he saw Fornwalt sitting in the back, holding his phone, he told police.

She told him he couldn’t call 911, and that she needed him to drive her to the motel in White River Junction, the affidavit said.

“Parmenter reported that he was fearful of Fornwalt and what she could do next,” so he drove her to the motel, the affidavit said. Once there, she took one of the bags sitting in the backseat of the car and began loading her belongings in it, along with the gun, according to police. Parmenter told officers that was the first time he had seen the firearm she was carrying.

Police found Fornwalt walking “confused” in the parking lot of the motel and took her into custody Wednesday morning. She said she was looking for a friend who was supposed to pick her up from DHMC that morning.

During the arraignment, Joseph Strain, a public defender for Fornwalt, argued that she did not use physical force or deception to get Parmenter to drive her to White River Junction and that he does not think the “evidence of guilt is great” in the case.

He added that Fornwalt has a history of drug offenses but does not have a history of violent behavior, meaning she’s likely not a danger to the public.

But Windsor County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Zukauskas argued that there’s plenty of evidence of guilt, and that Fornwalt was threatening Parmenter by telling him he couldn’t call 911.

“The victim was kidnapped and taken out of the state. A hold without bail is appropriate,” she said.

A second hearing to determine the weight of the evidence and consider whether Fornwalt should continue to be held in jail is planned within the next two weeks, though a specific date has not been set.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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