Special Focus: Visions, values, and tragedy
Left: Photographs of Brattleboro Food Co-op store manager Michael Martin grace the candlelight service held in his memory two days after he was killed at his desk in 2011. Right: An undated photo of Richard Gagnon in the beer and wine department of the Brattleboro Food Co-op.

Special Focus: Visions, values, and tragedy

BRATTLEBORO — Through legal documents, police investigation reports, and interviews, The Commons sheds light on some of the tensions that preceded a 2011 killing in downtown Brattleboro, in an office at presumably the unlikeliest of workplaces - a food co-op. Michael Martin's killer, Richard Gagnon, was portrayed as an employee who snapped senselessly over a bad evaluation. But the real story behind that tragic morning is much more complicated.

Visions, values, and tragedy. A 22-year veteran employee whose identity was his job. A new store manager hired to impose order on a rapidly growing business that was distancing itself from its hippie roots. Could the story have begun unfolding years before?

In the aftermath. Life went on after the killing. Richard Gagnon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and the community was spared a trial. And then employees wanted a union.

What can we learn? A note from the editor about this special report.

• Sidebar: The good wife. Her life changed on the morning the police came to tell her that her husband killed his boss. But Meg McCarthy is standing by her husband, now 900 miles away in prison.

• Sidebar: What goes through a murderer's mind? Richard Gagnon recounts the days and hours leading up to his pulling the trigger.

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