A Troubling Detail in the DCF Murder Case

Last Friday, a terrible, unthinkable tragedy occurred less than an hour from my home. It happened to someone that some of my family knew and respected. At 4:45, as she was leaving the office to go home to her husband and two children, Lara Sobel was brutally murdered with a high caliber hunting rifle by Jody Herring, a woman who was upset over losing custody of her child. Lara worked for the Vermont Department of Children and Families (DCF), and paid the ultimate price for her work in ensuring that small children are not left in the care of potentially homicidal maniacs. The story is heartbreaking, and it makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it, much less write about it. It is a story I would rather avoid, and yet I find myself compelled to respond.

There are plenty of other troubling details that are popping up, not the least of which is the fact that Jody Herring reportedly made a threatening phone call Friday morning to three other family members, warning them to stop calling DCF on her, and Saturday morning those family members were also found dead at their home. The police are not officially saying anything about a possible link at this point, but it does seem concerning.

But that wasn’t the thing that dropped my stomach to the floor and made me want to quit the human race. Yeah, it was bad. It was, in my mind, unequivocal evil, made manifest in this world by yet another mass shooting in this country, with special thanks to the gun lobby and general disdain for the poor and mentally ill. But the most troubling thing for me, was that when I clicked “search,” in an effort to find more details about the case, I found the headline posted with stuff like this:

“You Take My Kids, You Get What You Deserve.”

“Share if You Would Do the Same #mamabear”

“something something, DCF Steals Children something something Murder something #haha”

I could not believe it! People, mostly Mom Bloggers (#notallmombloggers), were posting support for this horrible crime! Someone started a legal defense fund for the murderer online and it has started receiving donations, with messages of support, expressing their belief that, apparently, it is completely fine to murder someone! How can this be?! How can I live in a society in which a large number of people think shooting someone in the face with a hunting rifle for doing thier job is okay? Some days it’s just embarrassing to be human.

“But Tenor Dad!” you say, “What if your children were threatened, or taken away from you by an evil, corrupt government, hell-bent on destroying people’s lives?! Wouldn’t you shoot them to death?” And to this I respond, that’s not actually what happened, but no, I would not. If my child’s life were in specific danger, I would probably attack someone to specifically prevent that immediate danger, but I would not kill them. At least not on purpose. And also, I know DCF. I have dealt with DCF, and custody cases with them, and I know that they are not evil.

The people who get their children taken away are not in a position to be taking care of those children. They have drug problems. They have mental problems. They have neglect problems. They have mass-murder problems, apparently. It doesn’t mean that they are not good people, or that they can’t, at some point, take care of their kids. But right then, they can’t. The biggest problem DCF has is the lack of good homes and families in which to place these kids. They need loving, stable homes to raise these kids, and often they don’t have any volunteers, so the kids go to crowded foster homes, or questionable individuals. And that is a problem. That is a problem that you could help with, if you wanted to. This might be a good time to investigate that possibility. But if you think that being a parent gives you the right to murder people, I’m sorry, but children should not be living with you. Not right now.

Posted in Bad Parenting, Crime, DCF, Parenting, Vermont.


  1. My grandfather, one of the greatest and kindest people I know, worked for dcf for a time. He quit because it is corrupt and broken. A child was brutally murdered because higher powers didn’t see reason to remove the child from his situation…resulting in his death. This is not a perfect system to say the least. It has holes like everything else in our systems. I found myself dealing with these issues after my wife’s infidelities. She used dcf and a broken system and corrupt cop to keep me from my children for over a year.

    • It is not a perfect system by any means, and I have encountered people working for them who are indeed corrupt at worst, or incompetent at best, but they do far more good than they do harm, and no matter how much you disagree with a system, murder is never the correct choice. Celebrating the death of an innocent woman because one disagrees with the overall system is horrifying to me, and I had to call it out. Hope things are going better for you and your children now, and you have my sympathies for your problems with DCF. I’ve had similar issues. 🙁

  2. In agreement with prior comments, as well as the horrific article, her (the shooter) actions speak volumes as to WHY her daughter was taken from her. As well as the victim and her family, my heart goes out to this poor little girl. I hope that she is safely with some family members that love her. I can’t even imagine what she is going through-at such a young age. Life (sometimes) just isn’t fair.

  3. I personally reported the person who put the gofundme to get the money for herself as the brothers of the victims asked that no one donate to it as it was not them doingit

  4. As someone who was taken away from her biological family I can say that dcf isn’t evil and that its the best thing for children from bad homes. My heart goes out to the family of Lara.

  5. Lara Sobel was not a worker that I ever had an opportunity to work with. But as a former foster child and now foster parent I want everyone to know these things:

    A DCF worker has anywhere from 15-30 (ssometimes more) cases.

    A DCF worker is not the one deciding a child is to be removed about 98% of the decision s are made by a family court judge. There are emergencies where a worker can short term remove a child a judge then decides if this was right.

    Lara’s death is a tragedy. She was doing her job under guidelines she no more then you or I control. I am saddened that people are so negative towards a good person.

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