(ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt.) — The discovery of a body believed to be that of teacher Melissa Jenkins, whose SUV was found earlier this week still running with her 2-year-old son inside, has left police alarmed that whoever might have harmed her will strike again.
The body of Jenkins, 33, from St. Johnsbury, Vt., is believed to have been found 16 hours after she vanished on a dark Vermont road Sunday night. Residents of the town of fewer than 8,000 people, which sits roughly 40 miles from the Canadian border, were stunned after her disappearance and the discovery of the body. Police are telling the public to remain vigilant.
“I cannot disclose the details of how the body was found or the condition of the body, but this death is considered suspicious,” Det. Sgt. Walter Smith said Monday. “We don’t know if it’s an isolated incident, we expect the public to use all diligence and vigilance while out and about.”
More than 100 friends and family members braved frigid winds at a candlelight service Monday for the teacher who taught science at St. Johnsbury Academy, a boarding school of about 970 students.
Jenkins was also a freshmen basketball coach and a dorm proctor until the birth of her son. She also worked a second job, moonlighting part-time as a waitress at the Creamery Restaurant in Danville, Vt.
Her vehicle was recovered Sunday evening after a friend who had been looking for the single mother contacted the police. The body that is believed to be her was found in the nearby town of Barnet, Vt. Police say Jenkins had no restraining orders out on anyone.
“[This is] something you would never think of in this small town we have here,” family friend Ron Craig told ABC News.
Family members believe Jenkins left home to help someone with car trouble, but exactly whom she planned to meet is a mystery.
A family friend is caring for Jenkins’ toddler. The boy’s father, B.J. Robertson, would not comment about Jenkins.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Elise Labott, Kevin Liptak and Patrick Oppmann, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN