The Valley News has been selected to add two journalists — a photojournalist and a climate and environment reporter — to our newsroom through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

Newbury, Vt., man charged with fatally shooting adult daughter

  • James Perry Jr. (Vermont State Police photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2021 3:53:27 PM
Modified: 5/4/2021 8:02:30 PM

NEWBURY, Vt. — A 70-year-old Newbury man is being held without bail after police said he shot and killed his 38-year-old daughter when she came to his home to check on him and bring him some food, according to court documents.

James Perry Jr. pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment during a brief arraignment in Caledonia Superior Court in St. Johnsbury, Vt., on Tuesday afternoon.

He was ordered held without bail.

Perry was arrested several hours after the shooting, which police believe happened Monday afternoon, according to court documents and a news release from the Vermont State Police.

According to police, Perry’s daughter, Karina Rheaume, went to his rural home on Deerfield Lane in Newbury to check on him and bring him some food Monday afternoon.

Perry’s son, James Perry III, later told police in an interview that his father’s mental health had been deteriorating recently, according to an affidavit written by Vermont State Police Sgt. James Vooris.

Perry “believed his family and neighbor(s) were going to kill him” and told them not to come to his house in the days leading up to the shooting, the affidavit said.

During an interview with police following the incident, Perry said that when he saw his daughter at the doorway with cookies, he picked up his 12-gauge shotgun and hid behind a pillar in his house, the affidavit said.

Perry said he was “so nervous” and didn’t want her coming into the house, so he yelled “don’t” and “stop,” the affidavit said.

“I’ve been stressed out for a couple weeks, and I just, I guess I, pulled the trigger,” he said, according to the affidavit. Perry told police he fired several shots at his daughter and also cut her neck with a pocket knife.

He said he initially moved her body into his house, but then he “couldn’t stand looking at her,” and moved it back to his porch, the affidavit said.

When Troy Brock, Rheaume’s boyfriend, didn’t hear from her for four hours, he went to the house and spoke with Perry, who pointed a rifle at him and told him that Rheaume was dead and that “if he took one step closer, he’d be dead, too,” according to an affidavit written by Vermont State Police Sgt. James Vooris.

Police went to Perry’s residence and found Rheaume’s body, face down, just outside the door, the affidavit said.

Perry told them he had shot his daughter as she stood on his porch earlier that afternoon, the affidavit said.

A standoff ensued and ended around 1 a.m. with police taking Perry into custody after he came out of the house and surrendered, according to the release.

During an interview with officers, Perry said he was worried that “unknown individuals were playing ‘gun games’ with him,” and that he was concerned his daughter was “being used as a ploy to allow these unknown individuals to enter his residence,” the affidavit said.

The news comes as a devastating blow to the family and friends of Rheaume, who described her as a loving mother to her sons and a caring friend.

Her LinkedIn profile also describes her as a self-employed recovery coach.

“She was a beautiful, kind woman who loved her children more than anything. I couldn’t be more heartbroken for my nephews and our entire family,” her sister, Layla Jane Berglund, said via Facebook message Tuesday to the Valley News.

“Her kindness is what really stood out about her,” added Berglund, who is also Perry’s daughter. She declined to comment further on the case.

Friend Anthony Warburton called Rheaume the “kindest, most genuine, most honest, most caring person I have ever known” and added that she often reached out to check on him if he was feeling down.

“Not having a chance to say goodbye is an unbelievable feeling,” he said.

Other members of the Bradford and Newbury communities, where Perry and Rheaume’s family have deep ties, said they were shocked by the news Tuesday.

Bradford Selectboard Chairman Ted Unkles said Tuesday that the family is well-known in the area — relatives owned the Perry’s Oil fuel and propane business.

Though Unkles said he doesn’t know Perry well, he does know the 70-year-old was most recently a self-employed carpenter who was an active volunteer in the Bradford Congregational Church.

“He’s always been well-liked. ... I’m in a state of shock over the whole thing,” Unkles said. “I would have never dreamed of anything like this from Jimmy.”

Marcia Tomlinson, who works at Bradford Congregational Church, said Perry was a longtime member and very active in the congregation.

“He was born and raised into it,” she said of his time with the church.

A future court date for Perry has not been set. Rheaume’s body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington for an autopsy, but the results were not released as of Tuesday afternoon.

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




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2020 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy