Crazed Homeless Woman ‘Beats Shelter Coordinator to Death With an Ax’ in Vermont
Paul Farrell, Daily Mail, April 5, 2023
A crazed homeless woman who was living in a Vermont shelter pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday after she was accused of beating to death a coordinator with an ax and a knife.
Zaaina Mahvish-Jammeh, 38, remained silent during her court appearance in Brattleboro as her public defender lawyer entered the plea.
The brutal slaying occurred Monday around 9.30am at a facility known as the Morningside House, which is run by a group named Groundworks in the city.
Investigators say that Mahvish-Jammeh bought the ‘hunters ax’ at a local hardware store two days before the killing. The victim has been named as 36-year-old Rhode Island native Leah Rosin-Pritchard.
The suspect previously maintained an active YouTube channel, and in one video Mahvish-Jammeh is shown making a frozen cocktail by stabbing the ice repeatedly with a massive knife.
In an interview with the Brattleboro Reformer, a witness to Monday’s attack described it as a ‘f*****g brutal, savage f*****g murder.’
‘I haven’t been able to sleep. Because every time I close my eyes, I see that s***,’ the witness added.
According to the criminal complaint, Mahvish-Jammeh specifically asked to meet with Rosin-Pritchard prior to the attack. Witnesses heard her yell: ‘I like you, it’s Leah I don’t like.’
The documents say that the victim was found dead in the kitchen of the home with injuries to her torso, neck and face.
When police arrived at the scene, the suspect was wiping her hands clean of blood with paper towels.
Witnesses told investigators that they heard screaming coming from the dining room of the home, and when they went to see what was going on, they saw Mahvish-Jammeh repeatedly striking Rosin-Pritchard.
They told police that they yelled for the suspect to stop but that they were scared to get too close to her.
Rosin-Pritchard’s tragic death was captured by the home’s security cameras. The footage apparently shows Mahvish-Jammeh walking into the home with a bed sheet slung over her right shoulder, carrying the ax.
Under the sheet, the suspect wore a black hoodie, overalls, safety glasses and black slippers.
‘I heard screaming. I come down the stairs. I look around right by where the dining room table is, and there’s a body on the floor, and I couldn’t even tell who it was. That’s how badly smashed the face was,’ the unnamed witness, 66, told the Reformer.
‘She looked up at me and then went down to beat [the victim] a couple more times in the face,’ he continued.
The suspect took off her clothes afterwards and was seen wearing a bunny ear headband, blue socks and grey sweatpants.
The witness went on to allege that Mahvish-Jammeh of attacking twice in the past, once with a wooden suggestion box and once with her fists.
‘[Mahvish-Jammeh] has severe mental health problems, and they put her in a house that’s not equipped for that and the staff aren’t trained for that.
‘I told them two months ago, this was going to happen, and they didn’t listen. It was just a matter of time before she grabbed a butcher knife. The only thing I was wrong about was her choice of weapon. It should have never happened, and now a good person is dead,’ he continued.
The witness described the 30-bed shelter where the attack took place as not being set up to handle people with Mahvish-Jammeh’s level of mental illness. Families with children are housed at the facility.
‘I am sure that there will be a lot of community conversations about this case going forward but right now, I would ask folks to focus on the facts that Leah Rosin-Pritchard lost her life,’ Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver told the media.
Shriver said that the suspect had been a resident of the home since the summer of 2022. That same year, she was interviewed by the Reformer for an article on the city’s homeless population.
‘I like Vermont,’ she told the newspaper, adding that she felt safe in Brattleboro. The suspect said that she came to the area via Plattsburgh, New York.
In 2020, Mahvish-Jammeh was interviewed by NBC5 in Upstate New York about Plattsburgh’s mask mandates.
‘The reason why I support it is because I’m into masks in my lifestyles, in my personal lifestyle. I like to get along with it. Especially if it’s handmade, I think it’s really cute,’ she said at the time.
Online records show that Mahvish-Jammeh, previously lived in Brooklyn, New York and in Orange County in California. Her only criminal offense was minor infraction that occurred in California with the charges dropped shortly afterwards.
On Wednesday, a judge ordered Mahvish-Jammeh to undergo a mental evaluation as her public defender lawyer speculated that she may not be fit to stand trial for first-degree murder. She is being held without bail.
‘Leah Rosin-Pritchard is irreplaceable. She was a wonderfully strong, positive, beautiful and compassionate person who gave generously of her spirit and skills in support of all Morningside House residents and her professional colleagues,’ a statement from Groundwork Collaborative read.
‘There are no words to express the depth of loss felt by her Groundworks teammates and our hearts go out to her family and friends,’ it continued.
Rosin-Pritchard worked at the home since early 2022 where she began as a case worker and had recently been promoted to coordinator.
She graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in social work in 2019 and previously worked at the Amos House and for the Izzy Foundation in her home state, reports WJAR.
‘Beginning my second career in social work, I believe in implementing all I have learned thus far and integrating my skills in a space where I can be of service to the community,’ Rosin-Pritchard wrote on her LinkedIn page.
In her strengths section, she wrote: ‘Harmony, Woo, Adaptability, Includer, Communication.’
On that page, the victim also wrote about her interest in baking.
Prior to going into social work, Rosin-Pritchard worked as a volleyball coach at Middletown High School in Rhode Island, reports The Providence Journal.
‘She was great. The kids loved her. She knew the sport and did a great job. When she left, we were sad,’ said the school’s athletic director Karen Massaro.
‘I’m still trying to wrap my head around this, knowing how much the people who work in these shelters give. It’s just so sad knowing where she was and what she was trying to do,’ she added.