- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The body of a University of Vermont student was found along a rural road Friday, and police said they were questioning a man who lent her a cell phone on the night she vanished nearly a week ago.

Michelle Gardner-Quinn’s body was discovered near a popular swimming spot 13 miles east of Burlington, Police Chief Thomas Tremblay said.

The 21-year-old senior from Arlington had become separated from her friends when she borrowed Brian Rooney’s phone to call them as she walked up heavily traveled Main Street, which runs between downtown and the campus.

Mr. Rooney, 36, of Richmond, has been the focus of the investigation since he was recorded on a jewelry store surveillance camera with her at about 2:30 a.m., Chief Tremblay said. He has not been charged in Miss Gardner-Quinn’s case, Chief Tremblay said.

Chief Tremblay’s investigation led to Mr. Rooney’s arrest on unrelated charges of sex abuse in two other Vermont counties.

He was charged with sexual assault in Caladonia County, 80 miles north of Burlington, and with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child in neighboring Essex County, where Mr. Rooney previously lived, officials said.

Miss Gardner-Quinn was reported missing last Saturday after she failed to show up for a planned meeting with her parents, who had been in town for parents’ weekend.

Tommy Lang, 21, a University of Vermont senior who grew up with Miss Gardner-Quinn in Virginia, said yesterday that nothing seemed amiss when she called him from the man’s cell phone just before her disappearance.

“She sounded completely fine and normal and exactly the way she did when she left us,” Mr. Lang said. “There wasn’t anything that made me worry or made me suspicious that anything was going on.”

Mr. Lang said he called the number Miss Gardner-Quinn had used and spoke to a man.

“He really didn’t tell me a whole lot. He basically said he saw her walking up the hill toward the dorms, and that’s about it,” Mr. Lang said.

As Vermont State Police searched the Huntington Gorge swimming hole, authorities had cordoned off at least half a block in a residential Burlington neighborhood several blocks south of where Miss Gardner-Quinn was last seen. They were concentrating on a stately three-story redbrick home, where there has been construction on an addition.

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