Maine Sunday Telegram
December 9, 2001
Man Killed in Church Leaves Message
Friends of a Vermont
man shot by police find his
confusing cell-phone call
on their voice mail.
The Associated Press
BRATTLEBORO, Vt -The knife wielding man shot to death by police in a church
warned friends via cell phone shortly before his death about the dangers of
political assassinations and global warming.
Friends of Robert Woodward discovered the three-minute message on their
voice mail system two days after the Bellows Falls man had died from his
Mary Rives and Keith Carlson of Amherst, Mass., made the answering machine
tape recording available to the Rutland Herald.
It is uncertain if the recording was made before or after Woodward was shot
seven times by police. His friends believe it was made after the shooting;
Windham County State's Attorney Dan Davis said investigators believe
Woodward made no phone calls after he was shot.
On the tape, Woodward is heard groaning and yelling. There is a lot of
background noise and people are heard yelling, "all clear the room, all
clear the room."
Toward the end of the message, voices are heard telling people to stay
Authorities maintain they know of no cell phone calls made by Woodward after
he was shot.
"Political assassination, political assassination, political
assassination...global warming," the voice says on the tape.
He tells his friends repeatedly, amid moans, "I love you, I love you:
help, help, help me, help me, help."
The three-minute message, the limit of the couple's voice mail system, is
clouded with a lot of background noise, but there is moaning , and yelling
through most of it and the sound of people rushing around and talking.
Davis said Woodward, 37, used the words "political assassination" repeatedly
during his confrontation at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church
But Davis said he was sure that the message was left before Woodward was
shot. "I am unaware of any phone calls he made after he was shot," Davis
said Thursday evening.
Police said on Monday that a church member made calls on a cell phone for
Woodward, but before police entered the church.
There are no apparent gunshots heard on the tape, but the word "shot" is
heard toward the end of the message.
Woodward was shot seven times by two Brattleboro police officers, Terrance
Parker and Marshall Holbrook, with the fatal shot a wound to Woodward's
stomach, Davis said.
At some point in the tape the words "towels" and "first aid kit" are
mentioned, as well as a woman saying she was a physician and wanted to help.
Rives said that she and her son, Rene, and her husband, Keith Carlson, were
longtime friend of Woodward, who was known to his friends as Woody.
Rives said she and her family were away on Sunday and listened to the
message on Tuesday when they got home. At first they didn't know what
it was. It was only after they learned that Woodward had been shot and
killed by police that they realized the tape was a call for help from their
The family plans to turn a copy of the tape over to police.