Lara Sobel, a Long Island native who taught Israeli dance in her spare time, was a social worker committed to helping Vermont families in need, according to those who knew her.
Sobel, 48, died Friday after she was shot outside her office in the city of Barre, Vermont, allegedly by a woman who had lost custody of her 9-year-old daughter in July, police said. The suspect, Jody Herring, 40, pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree murder charges in Washington County District Court and was ordered held without bail, said Tim Bombardier, chief of the Barre police department.
According to news accounts, after Sobel was killed, police later found three relatives of Herring dead in a home in Berlin, Vermont. The investigation into those killings was still ongoing, Bombardier said.
"It is in Vermont and you don't expect this up here; it is a terrible tragedy," said Doug Gibson, a spokesman for the Vermont State Employees Association. Gibson said the VSEA held a vigil Sunday attended by hundreds of people.
Born in Oceanside on Feb. 26, 1967, Sobel was the daughter of Alex and Bobbi Sobel of Oceanside and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Vermont, Sobel became a caseworker for Vermont's Department of Children and Families and 15 years ago married Timothy Faryniarz. The couple had two daughters, Julia and Elahna Sobel-Faryniarz, whose ages weren't available.
Sobel was active in the Beth Jacob Synagogue in East Montpelier and, according to congregation president Darryl Bloom, was active in the religious school.
"She came regularly and would often stay [late]," Bloom said. "In the past she taught Israeli dance."
Barney Bloom, past president of Beth Jacob, said Sobel "was a committed social worker in the best sense of the word."
"She dealt with families in need, in need of help," Bloom said.
In addition to her husband, daughters and parents, Sobel is survived by a sister, Lauren Sobel Shapiro of West Orange, New Jersey. Neither Sobel's parents nor her sister could be reached to comment.
Sobel's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Governors' Ballroom at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Montpelier, Vermont. The turnout is expected to include hundreds of mourners, possibly including Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and other government officials, according to local news accounts and residents.
Interment will be in a special area of Green Mount Cemetery in East Montpelier purchased by Beth Jacob for members of its congregation, said Bloom, adding that the family would observe the ritual shiva period at their home in East Montpelier.
The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to local charities including Camp Tel Yehudah, Prevent Child Abuse, Beth Jacob Synagogue and Central Vermont Humane Society.