Marsha Hall Lamonda grew up in Burlington, Vermont, and was a 1969 graduate of Burlington High School. She met Kenneth Robert Lamonda, son of Robert and Loretta Lamonda, of South Burlington. Lamonda graduated from South Burlington High School in 1967 and the University of Vermont in May 1976 with a B.A. in math. He worked for Howard National Bank following college.
In January 1971, the couple announced their engagement in a local newspaper. A few months later, dressed in a chantilly lace wedding dress with an A-line skirt and chapel train, Marsha walked down the aisle of St. John Vianney Church on May 29, 1971. She and Lamonda married in a double-ring ceremony. Her bridesmaid was her sister-in-law, Gayle Hall.
Marsha worked for a local credit union. Following the wedding, the couple resided at 208 King Street. In 1973, they moved to a ranch-style home on Birch Court but sold that house to one of Lamonda’s co-workers and simultaneously purchased a raised ranch house on Pamela Court in Williston.
Marsha was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, which “causes nerve cells (neurons) in parts of the brain to break down and die gradually,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. However, patients can live for many years after diagnosis. It is unclear how the disease affected Marsha’s everyday life.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MARSHA?
Marsha, 26, was last seen leaving a bar on Williston Road on June 30, 1977, and there was a reported sighting of her on North Street, too.
Her father, George Hall, reported her missing on July 6, 1977, not Lamonda. The marriage lasted five years until September 1976, when the couple separated. Early that year, Marsha gave birth to the couple’s only child, Justin. After their separation, Lamonda raised Justin alone. Both filed for divorce, which was granted after she disappeared. Marsha was unemployed when she vanished.
Her remains were not recovered until August 1987, over ten years later. A neighbor walking along Bean Road outside Charlotte found a human skull. State police searched the area and saw more of Marsha’s remains scattered in a 30-foot radius, likely caused by animals. Altogether, they found about half of a skeleton. A medical examiner identified her through dental records.
Lamonda said of Marsha’s murder: “I wasn’t totally shocked. She was hanging out with a bad crowd on North Street.” He did not elaborate, but his statement could explain why she did not have Justin.
UNRELATED FRIGHTENING EXPERIENCE
Shortly before Marsha and Lamonda separated, Gayle and Marsha had a frightening experience at a local bar. (It was unrelated to her murder.)
On July 28, 1976, Gayle, 26, and her boyfriend, Steven Dumont, 25, decided to go out for a few drinks at the Red Lion Bar and Grill at 41 King Street. Marsha and a few other friends joined them. What started as a fun night for the group ended in one they likely always remembered.
Around 2:15 a.m. on July 29, 1976, Frederick G. Ahearn, 33, and his wife Penny LaGuoy Ahearn, 19, entered the Red Lion. Ahearn told the crowd in a Hollywood-movie-type entrance, “This is a holdup.”
But the bar patrons did not take Ahearn seriously until he brandished a gun and said, “This is real.” Ahearn ordered everyone to the bar and told bartender Mike Olio to provide them with drinks.
Meanwhile, Peggy Ahearn stole $180 from the cash register. Ahearn ripped out a pay phone on the wall and threw it on the floor. That did not cause it to become unusable, however.
After his wife took the cash, she walked over to a table, laid down a dime, and left the bar. Dumont theorized she left it for someone to make a phone call.
Ahearn then ordered the patrons into a restroom. Gayle and Marsha asked Dumont to go into the ladies’ room with them because they were terrified. The bathroom doors swung out, and Dumont could see the entire bar through them. It appeared that Ahearn also left the Red Lion.
Dumont grabbed a quarter and called the police from the payphone on the floor. Ahearn suddenly returned, loomed over Dumont, and shot him in his right leg. He recovered, and no one else was injured during the robbery.
Police arrested the Ahearns shortly after. The couple had robbed three places, including the Red Lion, in 24 hours. Ahearn was ultimately sentenced to six to 15 years in prison. His wife received a one-year to five-year suspended sentence in April 1977. Ahearn later committed more crimes in 1982. Ahearn committed suicide by hanging while in jail on February 5, 1983.
What happened to Marsha Lamonda remains a mystery 46 years later, but police classified her case as a homicide and said her illness did not cause her death. Other than a few blurbs in a newspaper about her murder through the 1990s, nothing further has been reported.
If you have any information on Marsha’s murder, please contact Captain Dunlap at the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit.
Few details are available on Marsha’s disappearance and murder. I found nothing about whether investigators questioned Lamonda in Marsha’s murder. They were still legally married when she disappeared, so I assume they did. He should have been one of the first to interview, if not the first.
I do not know where Marsha lived following their separation or why Lamonda cared solely for their son. He said she hung out with the wrong crowd on North Street. But what caused her to go down this path? What little information there is on her states she was happy and kind. So, something set her on a spiral downhill, if that is what happened.
Lamonda married Martha Rowe Burditt, also from Vermont, in 1994. They dated for ten years and had lived in various places before settling in Crossville, Tennessee. She has since died from Alzheimer’s. Lamonda passed away in May 2023 at 73.
Per his obituary:
“Ken married in 1971 and in 1976 had a son, Justin. Ken was a single parent to Justin from six months to adulthood. They resided in Williston,VT.”
I find it strange his family did not name Marsha as Lamonda’s first wife. Justin is now in his late 40s and lives in New York.
Donoghue, Mike. “Bones Found Identified as Missing S. Burlington Woman.” The Burlington Free Press. August 29, 1987.
Hall, Carl. “Burlington Couple Has Reason to Remember the Night When They Went to the Red Lion.” Rutland Daily Herald. July 30, 1976.
Howland, Margo. “Suspects in the Three Burlington Stickups, Man and Wife, Caught.” Rutland Daily Herald. July 31, 1976.
“Lamonda Investigation Continueing.” The Burlington Free Press.” September 2, 1987.
“Marsha Hall Mr. Lamonda Married.” The Burlington Free Press. May 31, 1971.
“Real Estate Notes.” The Burlington Free Press. October 27, 1973.
“S. Burlington Woman Goes Missing.” The Burlington Free Press. August 18, 1977.