Student sought by Highway Watch found dead

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A missing University of Vermont student who was the subject of a Highway Watch bulletin Wednesday, Oct. 11, was found dead in a ravine Friday, Oct. 13, near Richmond, Vt. Michelle Gardner-Quinn, 21, had disappeared in the early morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. She was last seen about 2:15 a.m. after parting company with a group of friends celebrating a birthday at a bar in downtown Burlington, Vt.

“While we take all reports of missing children seriously and are committed to helping in any way we can, this one’s personal because it involves the daughter of an ATA employee,” said Bill Jacobs, Highway Watch vice president.

Police have identified Brian Rooney, 36, as a suspect in the case. Surveillance camera footage from a jewelry store shows Rooney and Gardner-Quinn walking down a Burlington street about 2:30 a.m.; she apparently borrowed his cell phone to call her friends. While questioning Rooney in the Gardner-Quinn case, police discovered that he was wanted on an unrelated charge, dating back to 1998, of sexual assault on a minor; Rooney was promptly arrested on that charge.

During the weekend, an estimated 900 people attended a campus memorial service for Gardner-Quinn. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burlington Police Department at (802) 658-2700.