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Hundreds Attended Vigil for Murdered Vermont Social Worker, Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Vigil Held for Slain Social Worker 1:36

Hundreds gathered for a vigil Sunday night to remember a Vermont social worker who was shot and killed outside of her office building last week by a mother whose daughter was placed in state custody.

Lara Sobel, 48, was shot and killed Friday outside of the Vermont Department for Children and Families office in Barre, according to Vermont State Police.

Jody Herring, 40, was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death and is being held without bail, according to jail documents. She pleaded not guilty during her arraignment Monday afternoon, NBC affiliate WPTZ reported.

Herring is also accused of killing three relatives, whose bodies were found in Berlin, Vermont, Saturday morning, but she has not been charged with those murders, Vermont State Police spokesman Scott Waterman told NBC News Monday. Investigators in Berlin, which is about 7 miles away from Barre, said Saturday that they believe Herring fatally shot her aunt and two cousins, Rhonda Herring, Regina Herring and Julianne Folzorano, before killing Sobel.

Jodi Herring
Jodi Herring mugshot released by Barre City Police. Barre City Police Department / Barre City Police Department

Sobel handled a case involving Herring's 9-year-old daughter, who is currently in state custody, according to WPTZ. The social worker was remembered during a vigil Sunday as "a beautiful, beautiful individual," by her cousin, Joseph Faryniarz.

After sharing memories of Sobel, mourners marched with candles to the spot Sobel was killed and placed flowers and balloons at a makeshift memorial, according to the Vermont State Employees' Association, which organized the packed-out ceremony.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who was also in attendance, ordered that Vermont flags fly at half-staff on Monday and remain lowered until Wednesday in honor of Sobel.

"The work that Lara and her colleagues do is truly heroes stuff. It’s stuff that you end your career going, 'wow I made a difference every single day,'" Shumlin said during a news conference Saturday.

A funeral for Sobel, a mother of two, will be held on Tuesday, according to her obituary.