Littleton homicide leaves many unanswered questions


February 06, 2013
LITTLETON — Dr. Catherine "Kitty" Houghton lost her life in Littleton on January 28. She was the victim of the town's first homicide since 1999. The incident occurred in the lobby of the Hampton Inn.

Littleton police officers arrived on the scene shortly after receiving multiple 911 calls before 9 p.m. They arrested suspect Rodney A. Hill, a resident of West Danville, Vt. Hill was outside the hotel at the time.

Both Houghton and Hill were registered guests at the hotel.

Houghton was transported to Littleton Regional Hospital. She died there of her injuries.

An autopsy was performed on Jan. 29. On Friday, the Attorney General's office issued the results. A stab wound to the neck is listed as the cause of death.

After the attack, the two driveways leading to the inn were taped off, with State Police and Littleton police officers on each side Tuesday morning. Crime tape was also around the immediate entry into the building. A state Major Crime Lab truck was parked by the Hampton Inn's front door.

Hill was arraigned on the afternoon of January 29. He faces two second degree murder charges. The State of New Hampshire suggests that the defendant "did knowingly cause" and "did recklessly cause" Houghton's death "by stabbing her in the neck and torso."

The Honorable John Cyr presided at the arraignment. District courts in the state cannot take pleas for felony offenses. Thus, no plea was entered. Cyr informed Hill that the charges carry a penalty of up to life in prison. Hill is being held without bail in the Grafton County House of Corrections.

After a question from Cyr, Hill acknowledged that anything he said could be used against him. He was represented by public defender Martha Hornick. Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan G. Morell represented the State.

At a later press briefing, Morell said that both charges may be presented to a grand jury. She said that the incident appeared to be a random act of violence. Morell could not comment on Hill's mental status, or whether he was under the influence of controlled substances at the time.

Hill graduated from Danville High School in 1993. He lived with his wife Amy and three children. Neither Caledonian County nor the Vermont state police had a record of criminal activity for the suspect.

Morell said there were no other suspects in the case. She could not comment on whether any confrontation occurred that led to an attack on Houghton. Morell did not know how many times Houghton had been stabbed.

Regarding any links between Hill and Houghton, Morell said, "We don't believe they knew each other."

Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith said that department officers were the first on the scene. He said the well-trained officers did an outstanding job in their response to the tragic event.

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