South Royalton shooter may not survive his injuries

Transferred overnight to DHMC

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - Prosecutors are now considering the possibility that the 70-year-old South Royalton man accused by police of bursting into his former home on Happy Hollow Road and fatally shooting his estranged wife on Sunday morning may not survive the head injuries that he sustained just moments later.

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    Frank Sanville, who was released from jail two weeks ago under strict furlough conditions requiring him to live in a halfway house in Hartford and which ordered him to stay at least a thousand feet away from his wife Wanda Sanville at all times, remained hospitalized late Monday afternoon with a serious head injury that has left authorities with no clear idea when, or even if, he might eventually be able to appear in court for arraignment in connection with her violent death.

    Wanda's brother Todd Hosmer told WCAX television on Sunday that he was in the Sanville's home with Wanda at 10 a.m. Sunday morning when Frank Sanville unexpectedly stormed into the small house and shot Wanda in the back while her five-year-old nephew, Hosmer's son, was in the room.

    Hosmer told WCAX that Frank Sanville said “You’re next!” to him as he cocked the rifle again and it was at that point Hosmer said he struggled with Sanville and managed to wrest the gun away from him.

    Hosmer reportedly struck Sanville in the back of the head with the butt of the rifle during their struggle before Sanville fled from the home on foot up the heavily wooded dirt road, disappearing for just over four hours before heavily armed police officers surrounded a barn on a neighboring property and took him into custody.

A handprinted sign on the front of the Sanville's residence took on a grim new meaning in the wake of Sunday's events

    Police described Sanville as having been “uncooperative” after he was handcuffed and said he refused to let a South Royalton Rescue ambulance crew that had been summoned up to the scene check him out.  

    Sanville was initially taken in a police car to the Vermont State Police’s Royalton Barracks just a few miles away; however, a short time later he was taken to the Gifford Medical Center in Randolph for further evaluation of  his apparent head injuries.

    As Sunday evening progressed, Sanville’s condition apparently declined further and a decision was made to transfer him by ambulance to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center across the state line into Lebanon, New Hampshire.

    Late Monday afternoon Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill said that his understanding of Sanville’s condition was that it is “worse than initially thought” and he raised the possibility that Sanville might not survive or may have sustained such a severe head injury that it would make it difficult for him to stand trial if he is eventually discharged from the hospital.

    One factor working in prosecutors' favor is that, unlike in most similar homicide cases, they are not in any rush to bring charges against Sanville because he was already on furlough status when the shooting took place.  

    That means that Vermont's Department of Corrections already has the authority to immediately detain Sanville for as long as his current sentence is in effect, which in his case is until 2020.

    Cahill said he expects that as the state police wrap up their investigation, which was still in full swing on Monday as crime scene technicians in white “bunny suits” combed through the Sanville's cluttered property in an effort to ascertain where he might have previously hidden and then retrieved the rifle that was used in the attack.

    Neighbors who admitted to having had their own legal disputes with the Sanvilles said Monday that at least two rifles had been reported missing from nearby properties in recent months and they said that they considered Frank Sanville a suspect in the weapons' disappearance and they pointed out that there are a number of small sheds, bird coops, and rusting campers scattered around the Sanville's small wood framed home.

        Speaking to reporters at the Royalton State Police Barracks late Sunday evening, Vermont State Police Major Glenn Hall and Captain Dan Trudeau, who heads up the state police's Major Crimes Unit, said that Frank Sanville had apparently gotten a ride to South Royalton earlier on Sunday morning from a friend and they were asking anyone who had seen Sanville at any time before 10 a.m. to contact detectives.

    Major Hall said police were still trying to work out at what stage during Sunday's timeline Sanville had come to be in possession of the long gun that was used in the shooting.

Major Glenn Hall and Captain Dan Trudeau answer reporters' questions at the barracks Sunday evening

    Frank Sanville was arrested in late December and charged with domestic assault against Wanda who wrote a plaintive note to the court in the middle of last month asking for a restraining order against her husband after she learned he was about to be released to live in an alcohol-free halfway house in Hartford.

     "Frank hit me three times knocking me to the floor.  He was arrested and incarcerated (but) he is getting out Sunday and I fear for my safety.  He has hit me over the back and head with chairs and knocked me out.  (He) has already violated a criminal no contact order," Wanda Sanville wrote in a court document before concluding, "Frank hits me a lot and many times he has said he will kill me.  He don't care."

A sheep relaxes on the Sanville's property Monday morning before forensic specialists began searching for clues

Vermont News can be contacted at

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