Three people who are related to a woman who is accused of shooting a social worker after losing custody of her daughter were found dead in their Vermont home on Saturday.
Family members told the Burlington Free Press that they discovered the bodies of sisters Rhonda Herring and Regina Herring and their mother, Julie Ann Falzarano, in their home in Berlin, Vermont. They had been shot to death.
The two sisters were cousins of Jody Herring, who has been accused of shooting veteran Department for Children and Families worker Lara Sobel just after she left the DCF office building Friday afternoon.
After shooting the social worker in the head at close range with a "high caliber" hunting rifle, Police Chief Tim Bombardier said Herring was quickly detained by people in and around the building, preventing any more casualties.
Sobel was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sobel had been involved in a case in which a judge ordered Herring's 9-year-old daughter into state custody, Burlington Free Press reported. She worked at the DCF for 14 years and is survived by a husband and two daughters.
Herring will be arraigned on Monday on a homicide charge, Bombardier said.
Officials told the Burlington Free Press that police are investigating if there is a link between Sobel's murder and the deaths of Herring's relatives.
DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz said at a press conference Friday evening that the department was heartbroken to lose one of their own.
"We remain committed to supporting families. There are tensions, and we will continue to do the best we can," the commissioner said.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said in a statement that hearing of the shooting broke his heart.
Though there is no indication of a broader threat, the governor said he had ordered security reviews of Vermont state buildings and directed DCF staff to "only go out on emergency calls this weekend accompanied by law enforcement."
"The employees at DCF deal with the most challenging family situations that one can imagine," Shumlin said. "They do the work out of their dedication to the children and families of this great state. To lose one of our own in the course of that duty is shocking and heartbreaking."
Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ema O'Connor at email@example.com.
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.