Erika Guttilla
Vermont State Police
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May 09, 2018 04:48 PM

A 31-year-old Vermont woman was charged this week with murdering the man she claimed had raped her and whose body she allegedly kept for months in a barrel in her backyard, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

The remains of 34-year-old Troy Ford were discovered on Saturday in Highgate, Vermont. Authorities were led there by a tip from a friend of Erika Guttilla, the woman suspected of murdering Ford late last year, the court documents state.

Guttilla allegedly told police that Ford knew her sister and was allowed to temporarily move into their parents’ home, court papers show. But Ford overstayed his welcome — making things “unbearable” and leaving Guttilla feeling unsafe — and in November confronted her in the bathroom before forcing himself on her, authorities claim she said.

She also allegedly told police that Ford hit her in the head with a full liquor bottle, according to the court records.

A month later, according to allegations in the documents, Guttilla took a pistol and — while Ford was passed out from drinking — put it to his forehead and fired once, killing him instantly.

According to an affidavit in the case, “She advised [Ford] was one of the worst people she had ever met and the world was a better place without him.”

Ford’s “actions toward her kept making the decision to kill him easier and easier for her,” Guttilla told authorities, court documents allege.

Guttilla’s friend who informed authorities of Ford’s death had reached out to them from behind bars while incarcerated on unrelated charges, court records state. He said he had been shown Ford’s body.

The documents further show the informant told detectives that after being shot, Ford was placed head-down in a barrel and his feet, which protruded up from the opening, were covered with a garbage bag.

Charging documents allege that the victim’s body was kept in Guttilla’s backyard for months before being moved to Highgate, where it was found last weekend.

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Corey Cassani
Vermont State Police

The court records do not indicate if there is additional evidence supporting Guttilla’s accusation of rape against Ford.

Guttilla is charged with first-degree murder and obstructing justice, to which she has pleaded not guilty.

Her mother, 60-year-old Carmen Guttilla, is also charged with first-degree murder in Ford’s death. She is suspected of helping plot the killing and has pleaded not guilty.

In an interview with police, she said Ford had allegedly “held them [her family] hostage in their own home” and had been both physically and sexually abusive, according to documents obtained by the Burlington Free Press. Her son — Erika’s brother — made similar accusations.

Erika’s boyfriend, 28-year-old Corey Cassani, is the third defendant in the case and is alleged to have helped her dispose of Ford’s remains.

Cassani pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to a crime after the fact, unauthorized burial or removal of a body and obstructing justice.

All three remain in police custody. Their lawyers could not be reached by PEOPLE for comment on Wednesday.

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