Congdon charged in father’s shooting death

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(Host) 16-year-old Aaron Congdon is being charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of his father, a Chittenden Town Selectman.

Police say 53-year-old Bernard Congdon was shot Thursday night. His body wasn’t found until Saturday.

Police say his son confessed to the crime yesterday.

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, Chittenden residents are struggling to make sense of the tragedy.

(Keck) Chittenden is a small town just north of Rutland and news of Bernie Congdon’s death spread fast. Congdon was a local landscaper and long time member of the town’s select board.

At The Wooden Barrel, the town’s general store, manager Mark Hayes, says people have taken the shooting hard.

(Hayes) “Everybody’s still in shock. Yesterday there was a million people first thing in the morning trying to figure out what happened and what’s going on.”

(Keck) Hayes knew the Congdon’s well and says the father and son were often at odds. Things grew worse, he says, after the boy’s mother was killed in a motorcycle accident two years ago. Since then, Hayes says the teenager was often getting into trouble. Aaron Congdon officially withdrew from Rutland High School in March.

(Hayes) “Until a couple years ago he was a very good kid. Went to school regularly – was worried about homework and regular peer pressures of classmates – just regular school things. And starting a few years ago he just started getting in trouble and it kept getting into bigger trouble and bigger trouble. And losing his mother in the motorcycle accident didn’t help much.”

(Keck) Peter Stahura, another Chittenden resident described Bernie Congdon as a good man who was trying hard to make things work with his son.

(Stahura) “I know his dad was trying to bring him around. We talked about it relatively frequently . . . How’s your son doing? And he’d just say – geez I don’t know. I’m having a tough time with him.’ And I know he was trying to do the right thing. “

(Keck) At his arraignment this afternoon in Rutland District Court, Aaron Congdon pleaded not guilty. If convicted of first degree murder, the 16-year-old faces 35 years to life in prison.

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Chittenden.

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