police 147277 640

Homeless Woman Kills shelter Coordinator in Ax Attack

13 Apr, 2023 Liz Carey

police 147277 640

Brattleboro, VT (WorkersCompensation.com) – The coordinator for a homeless shelter is dead following an ax attack at the hands of a homeless woman, officials said.

Police said Zaaina Asra Zakirrah Mahvish-Jammeh, 38 was waiting at Morningside House shelter in Brattleboro, Vt. to talk to Leah Rosin-Pritchard, a 36-year-old social worker on Monday, April 1. After a discussion, Mahvish-Jammeh attacked Rosin-Pritchard with an axe beating her in the face, neck and torso before stabbing he with a knife. Rosin-Pritchard was pronounced dead at the scene.

Video of the incident showed the two women moving out of the camera’s view. According to the arrest report, a conversation gave way to “thudding and screaming.” Later, the two women came into the camera’s view, where it showed Mahvish-Jammeh attacked Rosin-Pritchard with the axe. Officials said she’s bought the axe a day earlier for $33.69.

After attacking Rosin-Pritchard, Mahvish-Jammeh turned to another employee, according to the affidavit, and reportedly said, “I like you. It’s Leah I (don’t) like. I like you.”

Mahvish-Jammeh then took a knife from the sink and continued to attack Rosin-Pritchard as she laid on the ground. Mahvish-Jammeh took off some of the bloody clothing she was wearing, the affidavit said.

Security cameras showed Mahvish-Jammeh walking into the shelter with a bed sheet slung over her right shoulder, carrying the axe. She was wearing a black hoodie, overalls, safety glasses and a black slippers, officials said.

'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 Brattleboro Reformer.

'She looked up at me and then went down to beat [the victim] a couple more times in the face,' he continued. 

Officials said after the murder, Mahvish-Jammeh took off the overalls and changed into a bunny ear headband, blue socks, grey sweatpants and black slippers. She continued to carry the ax around the first floor, the report said.

When police arrived at the scene, the affidavit said, the suspect was wiping the blood off of her hands with paper towels.

She surrendered to police without incident, and was charged with first-degree murder. The judge ordered her to undergo mental health evaluations after her public defender cited a report that said her client had “significant mental health issues,” according to the Brattleboro Reformer.

Groundworks Collaborative, the organization which runs the shelter, said Rosin-Pritchard was “irreplaceable” and a “wonderfully strong, positive, beautiful and compassionate person” in a statement on Facebook.

"There are no words to express the depth of loss felt by her Groundworks teammates and residents. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and the broader Brattleboro community who knew her," Groundworks Collaborative said in its post. "We can unequivocally say that Groundworks will not be the same without Leah. Our staff and program participants are shocked and grieving.

"We are, at the same time, personally and organizationally impacted and focused on supporting each other while continuing to provide food, shelter, and supportive services to the people and the community who need us."

The National Association of Social Workers said it is advocating for legislation that would improve social worker safety.

"A national social work public opinion survey from Ipsos revealed 84% of Americans support such social work safety legislation," the organization said in a statement.

Witnesses said Mahvish-Jammeh had attacked others twice in the past, once with a wooden suggestion box and once with her fist.

“[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,” the witness told the Reformer. “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.”

The witness said the shelter, which also housed children, was not equipped to handle people like Mahvish-Jameeh’s level of psychiatric illness.

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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