Woman found killed in Princeton woods; residents urged to be cautious

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PRINCETON, MASS. >> Residents of a small Massachusetts town are being urged to take caution after a woman who went out for a weekend walk or jog while visiting her mother was found slain in the woods.

Police found the body of Vanessa Marcotte on Sunday night about a half-mile from her mother's home in the town of Princeton, Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said. She was visiting from New York City, where she worked at Google. She was reported missing Sunday when she didn't return home.

The 27-year-old's death appears to be a homicide, and an autopsy was set to determine the exact cause, Early said.

"We have a horrible set of facts, a horrible set of circumstances right now," he said.

Police say they don't know if the attack was random. At a Monday news conference, authorities repeatedly urged the public to use caution and report any suspicious activity.

"We are concerned about the safety of our town residents and visitors that enter our town," Princeton Police Chief Michele Powers said. "We would ask people to pay attention to their surroundings."

Princeton is a town of about 3,500 residents around 40 miles west of Boston. There hasn't been a homicide in the town in the 27 years Powers has worked there, she said.

Marcotte worked as an account manager in New York for Google. In a statement Monday, Google said it is "deeply shocked and saddened."

"Vanessa Marcotte was a much loved member of the Google team, working in our New York office for the last year and a half, and known for her ubiquitous smile, passion for volunteer work and love of Boston sports," the company said.

Marcotte was a 2011 graduate of Boston University, which also mourned her death.

"We're so terribly sad for her family and friends," Colin Riley, the executive director of media relations at Boston University, told ABC News. "They're in our thoughts and prayers."

Marcotte's death is similar to that of a New York City woman killed while on a run through a Queens park last week. Like Marcotte, 30-year-ol Katrina Vetrano was killed while running alone during daylight hours in a secluded area. There is no indication the deaths are connected.


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