By Associated Press - Friday, May 7, 2021

STRATHAM, N.H. (AP) - A security firm that employed a man accused of killing a woman at the company headquarters of Timberland said it bears no responsibility for her death.

Securitas Security Services USA said in court documents Wednesday that it appears the blame should be placed on Robert Pavao, who’s been charged with first- and second-degree murder, reported. Securitas responded to a federal lawsuit filed against it by Michael Cormier, the husband of Catherine “Cassie” Heppner.

Robert Pavao, 21, formerly of Berwick, Maine, is accused of killing Heppner, Timberland‘s marketing director, in February 2020. The first-degree murder charge alleges Pavao stabbed her before, after or while engaged in the commission of, or attempting to commit felonious sexual assault. The second-degree charge accuses him of recklessly causing her death. Pavao pleaded not guilty; he’s being held without bail.

Authorities say Pavao worked as a security guard at Timberland in Stratham for four months. They said he had no relationship to Heppner.

The lawsuit said Securitas negligently hired Pavao despite alleged “red flags” about his psychological state. It said he allegedly used marijuana and psychedelic drugs at work, and allegedly had mental breakdowns at work that went unreported by a supervisor.

Securitas said it didn’t cut any corners in hiring Pavao, and that it didn’t receive any reports concerning him and alleged drug use. Securitas also said no employee reported any troubling information about Pavao.

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