The stabbing death of a Novato woman in New Hampshire — which authorities believe was a random act — has left Novato and Marin in shock, especially those in the music community.
The Associated Press and other news outlets reported the murder of Catherine "Kitty" Houghton on Tuesday. Houghton, 70, in the Indian Valley area of 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.
The AP story said Houghton was a trustee at a small New Hampshire private school from which she graduated in 1960 and was a retired business counselor with the U.S. Foreign Service.
Police in Littleton, N.H., said Houghton was stabbed to death in a random attack by another guest.
"We are all in shock here at the office," Jan Pedersen Schiff, music director for Mill Valley-based SingersMarin, wrote to her group in an e-mail. " Let us all hold Kitty’s huge and generous spirit in our hearts."
Craig Knowlton of the Indian Valley Associates homeowners group in Novato said Houghton was the group's secretary. "This is shocking news," he said. "We just held our meeting at her house on Thursday just before she traveled to New Hampshire on Friday."
One of Houghton's friends, Irene Healy of Idaho, told Pedersen Schiff that Houghton was in Littleton to attend a music program at White Mountain School, her alma mater. Houghton was due to visit the Lake Tahoe area next week to go skiing with friends and also visit two sisters in Reno, Healy said.
Pedersen Schiff said Houghton was a small-plane pilot and loved living on the south end of Wilson Avenue because the elevation reminded her of flying. New Hampshire Union-Leader said Houghton volunteered her piloting services for Angelflight, a nonprofit that transports financially distressed people in medical need, and for Lighthawk, which provides flights for conservation organizations.
The Union-Leader reported that Rodney Hill, 37, of West Danville, N.H., was charged with second-degree murder for knowingly and/or recklessly killing Houghton in the Hampton Inn lobby. Assistant attorney general Susan Morrell told reporters that there was no known connection between the two peolple and no known motive for the killing.
Since 2010, Houghton was a trustee of the White Mountain School, a boarding school in Bethlehem, N.H., not far from the Canadian border. On its website, the school said, "The White Mountain School community is deeply saddened by the loss of Catherine 'Kitty' Houghton, member of the class of 1960 and board of trustees, who died tragically last night. She will long be remembered for her kindness, love of music, keen intellect and adventurous spirit. She lived life to its fullest, pursuing each next step with curiosity and joy. Through her words, actions and deeds she has inspired countless others to do the same."
Pedersen Schiff added, "She was a lovely woman and a dedicated singer who especially loved our youth programs. What a loss."
Here is another story about Houghton's death in the Marin Independent Journal.
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 email@example.com.