Vt. Shooting Suspect Has Violent Past

  • A Hartford, Vt., police officer keeps her eye on an area along Happy Hollow Road in South Royalton, Vt., on March 4, 2018. Police were searching for Frank Sanville, who was involved in a shooting on the road. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/5/2018 11:48:17 PM
Modified: 3/5/2018 11:48:22 PM

South Royalton — The South Royalton man suspected of fatally shooting his estranged wife over the weekend was being monitored by a “high-risk unit” from the Vermont Department of Corrections prior to the shooting, officials said on Monday.

Frank Sanville, 70, was supervised “intensively” by probation and community corrections officers after a Feb. 20 domestic assault conviction, said Bill Soule, the Hartford probation and parole district manager.

He also was “frequently” seen at the White River Junction probation and parole field office, Soule said.

Police said Sanville was on preapproved furlough when he shot and killed his wife, 48-year-old Wanda Sanville, inside her Happy Hollow Road home just before 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Sanville fled the scene after a struggle with a relative and was found hiding in a nearby barn around 2 p.m., police said.

He was taken to Gifford Medical Center in Randolph after the search, and was transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Sunday night to be treated for a head injury sustained during the struggle, according to Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill.

“His prognosis is unknown at this time,” Cahill said in an email on Monday night. “It is too early to tell what the future holds — both for him and for eventual criminal proceedings.”

Charges haven’t yet been brought against Sanville, who remains hospitalized, said Maj. Glenn Hall, the commander of the Vermont State Police Criminal Division. Hall said detectives continue to investigate the incident.

Relatives said Wanda Sanville, who reported abuse by her husband to police in December, was fearful of Sanville and had received several threats from him leading up to the  shooting.

Soule declined to say whether any of those threats were reported to probation officers, citing Vermont State Police’s active investigation into Wanda Sanville’s death.

“This was a real tragic event, regardless of risk instruments or whatever tools we use to supervise offenders in the community. You can never predict when this sort of  situation is going to happen,” Soule said in a Monday phone interview. “The staff here all feel terrible (about) this horrible tragedy.”

Wanda Sanville’s family was grieving her loss on Monday.

Beverly Moses, Wanda’s aunt, remembered her niece as a “very farm-oriented” Vermonter who loved her rabbits, chickens, dogs and goats. She also cared deeply for family, taking care of her now-deceased grandparents, Gardner and Jessie Moses.

“She was very kind, would help you in any way if she could,” Moses said. “She always helped her grandmother all the time.”

Court records show Frank Sanville has several prior domestic assault charges and parole violations.

Probation officials also expressed concern that he was harassing past victims, which led them to recommend he be returned to jail as part of a different case last year.

“Probation does not seem to be protecting the victim in this case,” probation officer Terry Rooney wrote to court officials in April.

Rooney went on to say that Sanville’s release “does not appear to be effective in meeting the ends of justice.”

Soule declined to say why Sanville remained out on parole, citing the investigation.

Sanville pleaded guilty to felony counts of larceny and identify theft on Oct. 17, after a neighbor accused him of unauthorized use of checks and a credit card.

Ronald Cavanaugh, who also lived on Happy Hollow Road, told police he entrusted Frank and Wanda Sanville to take care of his home and left them an emergency credit card while he traveled to Florida for several weeks in late spring 2015.

When he returned, Cavanaugh said, the two had racked up personal charges on the credit card. He also alleged Wanda Sanville had used a blank check found in the house to pay herself $400, court documents show.

Cavanaugh reported his discovery to Royalton police in June 2015, and Frank Sanville was sentenced to a suspended sentence of one year in jail.

He ultimately served about three months behind bars, and was released on probation on Jan. 3, 2017.

Probation officers recommended that he return to jail in April, after Cavanaugh alleged he had been cursed at by the Sanvilles. The Royalton Police Department also charged Frank Sanville with disorderly conduct for allegedly harassing Cavanaugh.

Those charges were dropped, though, when a judge extended Sanville’s probation to October 2019 and ordered he be electronically monitored.

Sanville was taken into custody by state police in December after Wanda Sanville accused him of hitting her while she was carrying groceries. He was on probation at the time.

State Trooper Joseph Pregent wrote in court documents that Wanda Sanville was bruised on her left eye and the left side of her nose. She also was hesitant to speak with police, openly worrying that “she was going to get beaten again” when her husband was released, according to court documents.

Sanville maintained his wife’s injuries were the result of a fall.

Last month, he was ordered to serve two to twelve months at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., but was furloughed from that sentence.

Sanville also was convicted of domestic assault in 2012, disorderly conduct in 2007 and simple assault in 2006. He was charged in 2004 of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, and in 2005 pleaded to a lesser charge of prohibited sexual acts.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com.

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