DNA links Rooney

Blood found on the jeans of Brian Rooney, the prime suspect in the murder of Michelle Gardner-Quinn, has been tested and found to have matching DNA to that of Gardner-Quinn, reports the Burlington Free Press. The Burlington Free Press reported that Rooney’s attorney, David Sleigh, released the information in an interview with the Associated Press. Sleigh reportedly thought that his client’s most recent closed-door arraignment was open to the public, which is why he released the information. Rooney, a 36 year-old resident of Richmond Vermont, was arraigned on Thursday Oct. 19 at the Chittenden County District Court on unrelated charges of aggravated assault and inciting a felony, according to Burlington police. Rooney was also arraigned Monday Oct. 16 in St. Johnsbury for unrelated charges of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. Rooney pleads not guilty to all charges. “I made a mistake this morning that’s going to cause me some trouble,” The Burlington Free Press reported Sleigh saying Thursday night. “It was a fundamental error of mine to make assumptions.”Sleigh says that the DNA analysis information can be found in an affidavit that the District Court will not release because it is under seal, reported the Burlington Free Press. The DNA match is the first reported physical evidence linking Rooney to Gardner-Quinn. “Once the information comes together, we’re looking at potentially having something occur during this week or next week,” Lt. Kathleen Stubbing said of pressing charges at a press conference Monday Oct. 16. “I would say that we’re feeling positive, that we’re moving forward and the information will hopefully bring us to a resolution to this in the near future.”Burlington police are not able to disclose details of the ongoing investigation, but did release the preliminary results of Gardner-Quinn’s autopsy at the press conference. The Vermont Chief Medical Examiner’s Office classified her death as a homicide and listed the cause of death as pending. Questions of where and when she was killed remain unanswered. “I would say that we’re going to keep the pace that we’ve been at and we’re pushing forward and dealing with anything that comes in as quickly and as expeditiously as we can,” Lt. Stubbing said. “We’re already going at a record pace.”Other questions arose at the press conference about a “missing link” in information already gathered that is preventing a resolution to the investigation, although the recent DNA findings may fill-in some of the blanks.”Well, I believe that there’s a lot of information that we have gathered that we’re looking to corroborate as well as obtain additional information that would assist,” Lt. Stubbing said.Police are still interested in any information concerning Rooney’s whereabouts at the time of Gardner-Quinn’s disappearance and the red Jeep Grand Cherokee that is registered in his name. Lt. Stubbing also listed several of Gardener-Quinn’s personal items that police are still searching for.UVM President Mark Daniel Fogel recently gave praise to the Burlington Police Department, commending their job in supporting the family and University.”I am extraordinarily grateful to the Burlington Police Department and all of the law enforcement agencies…” President Fogel said Friday when asked about the investigation. “They couldn’t have supported the University better and worked any closer with the family.” Police say the family of Gardner-Quinn continues to express gratitude to Burlington law enforcement and community in their efforts and support during this time.The UVM community showed their support for Gardner-Quinn at a memorial service held Sunday, Oct. 15, in the Ira Allen Chapel, which focused on some of Gardner-Quinn’s passions – music, the environment, and yoga – and help in dealing with her tragic death.The service included readings from the Old and New Testaments, words of remembrance from Assistant Professor Cecilia Danks of Environmental Studies and Natural Resources and some of her friends, and the playing of two of Gardner-Quinn’s favorite hymns.”As we gather there are many of whom feel they are blowing up inside of them,” Rev. Sue Marie Baskette said over an undertone of sobs. “We are sad, feeling only an emptiness where once there was joy and warmth, which were provided by Michelle’s radiant smile.And we are angry…wanting to shout and scream at the top of our lungs, `Why? Why God, why?’ Yet there is no answer, only the stinging reminder of our frail existence here on earth.”A pamphlet made for Gardner-Quinn’s memorial service offers a positive, emotional outlook on her death as written by Mary Elizabeth Frye in her poem Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep.”Do not stand at my grave and cry,” Frye wrote. “I am not there. I did not die.”