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Tiny Vermont town baffled by accused teens

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They're not outcasts. They're not potheads or drunks. They're not from broken homes. They aren't obsessed with guns.

Talk to almost anyone in this rural hamlet folded among the forests of the Vermont highlands, and they'll tell you the two boys arrested on charges of killing two Dartmouth professors are, in fact, quite the opposite.

James Parker is the funniest member of his junior class, played the Big Bad Wolf in a recent school play, and is a talented bass and keyboard player. Robert Tulloch is the best debater in Chelsea Public School, is a senior smart enough to finish his coursework early, and plays a decent game of soccer.

The pair even won a local tubing race down the First Branch of the White River.

All of which has left the dairy farmers and store clerks of Chelsea, wondering what might have led these two

to allegedly stab two professors 35 miles away in New Hampshire. Moreover, it's causing an entire nation to wonder how much parents really know about their kids, as two well-liked and seemingly well-adjusted teens are now accused of committing a savage act of violence.

"There weren't any warning signs as far as I'm concerned," says Diane Mattoon, town clerk for the City of Chelsea, and a seventh-generation Vermonter.

And in a town like Chelsea, it would be hard for warning signs to go unnoticed.

There are only 1,200 residents wedged into this corner of the snow-covered Green Mountains, and when any of them walk into the Dixie II Restaurant or Button's feed store, they are greeted by their first name.

There's no supermarket here, no movie house, no stoplight. The Chelsea Town Talk bulletin board in front of Will's general store announces the Cabin Fever Dance and a National Wild Turkey Foundation fundraising banquet. Timber trucks loaded with logs rumble through every so often, but few people stop on their way down Route 110.


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