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Autopsy Shows Novato Woman Died of Stab Wound to Neck

No new information about whether accused killer knew Catherine "Kitty" Houghton before she was attacked in a hotel lobby.

A Novato woman who was killed at a New Hampshire hotel on Monday died from a stab wound to the neck, according to autopsy results released Thursday.

Government and law enforcement authorities jointly announced that Catherine "Kitty" Houghton's death was a homicide and that a probable cause hearing for the suspect is set for Feb. 5.

New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney, New Hampshire State Police Colonel Robert C. Quinn and Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith released the findings of Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Jennie Duval four days after what has been called a random killing.

Rodney Hill, 37, of West Danville, Vt., was arraigned Jan. 29 in Littleton District Court and faces a second-degree murder charges for stabbing Houghton, 70, in the neck and torso. Hill is being held without bail at the Grafton County House of Corrections.

Houghton was found stabbed at the Hampton Inn in Littleton on Monday night and died after being transported to the Littleton Regional Hospital, authorities said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell told Novato Patch that investigators are still looking into whether there was a connection between the two people.

"We have nothing more to be shared," Morrell said Friday. "We are keeping the investigative details close to the vest to protect the investigation's integrity and to protect the suspect's right to a fair trial."

Morrell said her office is pursuing a second-degree murder charge because the investigation is ongoing and it is a challenge to demonstrate premeditation for a first-degree murder charge.

"It's very early in our investigation," she said. "It takes a long time to put together enough facts to understand what the suspect's mental state might be. ... Ultimately we will present our case to the grand jury and the jury will decide, and we still may present alternate charges. We're trying not to jump the gun."

Morrell said it might be three or four months before the case might be presented in court.

Houghton lived in the Indian Valley area of unincorporated Novato and served on the board of the Indian Valley Associates, a homeowners group. She also served on the board and sang for the choral organization SingersMarin. In 2011, she and the group sang at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Houghton was in Littleton to attend a music program at White Mountain School, according to multiple reports. She was a trustee at the small private school from which she graduated in 1960. Houghton was due to visit the Lake Tahoe area next week to go skiing with friends and also visit two sisters in Reno, a friend said.

Houghton was a private pilot, spoke 14 languages, had a doctorate from Stanford and was retired business counselor with the U.S. Foreign Service.

Share your thoughts about Houghton's passing below, and feel free to upload any photos. If you have digital images and would like to pass them on to the editor, e-mail brent.ainsworth@patch.com.

Justice Moore February 01, 2013 at 08:07 PM
What a terrible tragedy. Condolences to the family. 14 languages? amazing person
Julie February 03, 2013 at 09:46 PM
I did not have the pleasure of knowing Kitty but my mother was her friend and fellow club member in the 99's - The aeroclub named after Amelia Earhart. After reading about this amazing person I can better understand my mothers deveastation over the loss of a friend and hero!
Pam Walatka February 05, 2013 at 10:25 PM
What happened at the arraignment today?
Michael Prichard February 12, 2013 at 06:28 AM
We at Novato Video Transfer are shocked and saddened by this news. I personally Knew Kitty from transfering albums from her choral group to CD. She was an incre dibly talented woman and one of our favorite customers. She will be missed.Too sad for words.

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