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Homeless woman kills shelter coordinator with ax in front of staff, police say

A Vermont judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for a homeless shelter resident accused of using an ax and knife to kill a shelter coordinator in front of horrified staff.

Zaina Mahwish-Jammeh, 38, bought the ax at a hardware store before requesting a meeting with the shelter coordinator and used the ax to slash the victim multiple times in the shelter’s living room, police said. He pleaded not guilty to manslaughter on Tuesday, a day after the attack, and remains in prison.

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Leah Rosin-Pritchard

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Leah Rosin-Pritchard, 36, suffered injuries to her face, neck and torso and was pronounced dead at the scene at Morningside House, a shelter run by the Groundworks Collaborative in Brattleboro. Police said Mahwish-Jammeh used an ax with an 18-inch handle and a blade in the attack.

Officers saw Mahwish-Jammeh wiping blood from his hands with a paper towel, CBS affiliate WPRI-TV reported, citing court documents.

GroundWorks Collaborative, the organization that runs the facility, said in a statement on Facebook that Rosin-Pritchard was “irreplaceable.”

“She was an amazingly strong, positive, beautiful and compassionate person who gave generously of her spirit and expertise in support of all the residents of Morningside House and her professional colleagues,” the agency said.

She was a volleyball coach, culinary instructor and social worker in Rhode Island before moving to Vermont to become the coordinator at Morningside House, officials said.

“Starting my second career in social work, I believe in implementing what I have learned so far and integrating my skills into a place where I can serve the community,” reads her LinkedIn bio.

Rosin-Pritchard graduated from Rhode Island College with a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2019, WPRI reported. He spent time interning at Amos House and Easy Foundation.

“Just a selfless soul who is literally trying to help others,” Easy Foundation Executive Director Carla Mulhern told the station.

Mahwish-Jammeh had been living in the house for months, and the attack was captured on security video. “There are no words to express the depth of loss felt by his Groundworks teammates and residents,” Groundworks said in a statement.

Mahwish-Jammeh’s attorney, David Sleigh, declined to comment Thursday.

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