Fourteen years after she was found dead, a suspect in the 1991 murder of Patricia Scoville ’86 has finally been detained. Howard Godfrey of Kirby, Vermont was arrested and charged with Patricia’s murder last Thursday, according to the Vermont state attorney general.
“We just want to say that we’re very grateful that Patty’s rapist and murderer has been identified,” said Patricia’s father, David Scoville, after the hearing.
Godfrey’s arrest is in large part thanks to David and Ann Scoville ’61, who, after the murder of their daughter, successfully pushed for legislation for Vermont to join the nationwide DNA database called Combined DNA Indexing System in 1998. Godfrey’s DNA was then collected upon his release from jail in 2000, where he was serving time for a conviction in a 1997 case for aggravated assault.
Due to backlog, it was not until February 23 that an FBI forensic specialist matched Godfrey’s DNA with samples collected from the autopsy done on Patricia’s body. As confirmation, Vermont police investigators performed additional DNA tests on 15 cigarette butts that Godfrey had discarded and found enough evidence to arrest him last week.
Mr. and Mrs. Scoville began urging lawmakers to implement CODIS in Vermont after wondering what they could do after the murder of their daughter.
“We helped people put a face on crime because we were willing to tell our story,” Mrs. Scoville told The Sun.
In 2002, Mr. and Mrs. Scoville were presented with the National Crime Victim Service Award by Attorney General John Ashcroft, in recognition of their work toward the establishment of state and national DNA databases.
The Scovilles feel there is a lot more work to be done, however. Mrs. Scoville pointed out that in Vermont, DNA is collected after prisoners are released, unlike in New York State, where DNA is collected when convicts are first put in prison.
“In Vermont, there could be people in jail who have committed crimes … but we can’t prove it yet without having collected their DNA,” Mrs. Scoville said.
Mr. Scoville said that these irregularities have gotten better since 1998.
“It takes time for such legislature to become more uniform,” he added.
The DNA system put in place in Vermont was eventually implemented in Rhode Island as well. “The investigation into the Scoville murder has been ongoing for almost fourteen years and has been one of the largest collaborative efforts by Vermont law enforcement in recent history,” stated a press release by the Vermont state attorney general office.
Vermont attorney general Bill Sorrell added, “Few if any days have gone by in the last 14 years that someone in law enforcement in Vermont has not been thinking about working on this case. We’re very pleased to get to this point today. We’ve got a lot of work left to do.”
Patricia’s body was found in a shallow grave on October 28, 1991 in Moss Glen Falls in Stowe, Vermont. Investigators said asphyxiation was the cause of death. According to court documents, there is no evidence to lead police to believe that Patricia knew Scoville.
After his arrest on Wednesday, March 30, Godfrey admitted to investigators that he had sex with Scoville. On March 31, Godfrey pled not guilty to the charge of aggravated murder. He was ordered to be held without bail. The next hearing on the case is expected to take place in mid-April.