Man Arrested 3 Years After Remains of New York Woman Found in Vermont

Vermont State Police

Thanks to DNA evidence and extensive police work, they were able to catch a suspect.

A man has been arrested and charged with the 2019 murder of a New York woman whose remains were found in a shallow grave in Vermont, according to CBS News.

Deven D. Moffitt, 32, of Bennington, VT, was taken into custody Wednesday on a charge of second-degree murder in the killing of Jessica Hildenbrandt, 43, of Ballston Spa, New York, according to Vermont State Police.

The arrest comes three years after the woman told authorities "she feared for her life,” CBS News reported.

Hildenbrandt, who was also known as “Red,” was from New York, but “spent considerable time in Vermont,” according to police. She was known to spend time in and around Bennington, which is just an hour from Ballston Spa, according to VT Digger.

Police say that Hildenbrandt and Moffitt had been in a relationship while he was incarcerated in Vermont on a previous conviction.

On September 17, 2019, a man reported finding what appeared to be a human jawbone at a gravel pit in Searsburg, VT. Police eventually found more remains at the site and then less than a year later in July 2020, the Vermont Forensic Laboratory identified the remains as those of Hildenbrandt through DNA analysis, CBS News reported.

The Vermont Chief Medical Examiner's Office ruled her death a homicide in September 2020.

Months before her remains were found, in March 2019, Hildenbrandt reported to the Windsor County State's Attorney's Office and later to state police that "she feared for her life if Moffitt were to be released from prison," police said.

A detective interviewed her, but cops say she ultimately stopped cooperating with the investigation, and law enforcement was unable to pursue the matter further, police said in the news release.

After she reported him to police, authorities say she had posted bail for Moffitt on July 8, 2019, in a newly filed criminal case, cops said. Evidence in the Hildenbrandt case indicates she was killed in mid-July 2019, police said.

Moffitt appeared in court via video link Thursday. He was scheduled to be arraigned but his attorney asked to postpone his hearing. The judge accepted.

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