Fern Feather: A Tribute to the Vermont Murder Victim

fern feather

Facebook/obit Fern Feather.

On Facebook, Fern Feather filled her page with pictures of plants and the outdoors. Feather, of Vermont, was remembered for her compassion and kindness and care for nature, people, and abandoned animals.

Friends posted tributes to Feather after the transgender woman was stabbed to death in Vermont, and the community has come together to remember Feather, who was described as an angel on earth.

“Fern’s life was a sacred journey of becoming and a blessing to so many in our community. Fern made a difference in the hearts of so many,” wrote one friend, including the hashtag #translivesmatter.

“Your love for the Earth, animals, and all people was a joy to behold, you always comforted those in need, thank you for this 🙏🏼,” wrote another.

According to Vermont Biz, Feather died from a stab wound to the chest. A hitchhiker Feather befriended is charged in her murder.

In March, Feather wrote on Facebook, “It’s time to tell the world I’m a Hot Trans Woman in a currently male Hot Body Suit !! dang sure took long enough eh ?! Please share this to liberate our other beautiful ones !” Feather’s family said in Feather’s obit that she used all pronouns and was gender fluid. Heavy is using female pronouns for Feather because she identified herself as a trans woman in such a recent post.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Feather Was Described as a ‘Star-Being,’ Who Was an ‘Angel on Earth’

Feather lived a life “focused on his love of nature, his family and extended community,” Feather’s obituary read.

“He was a gifted horticulturist who’s deepest pleasure came from collecting and tending to plants and creating phenomenal flower arrangements. He spent many years both in Vermont and Oregon creating an amazing collection of tropical plants. Fern was also an avid animal lover, helping to rescue, rehab and rehome many creatures over the years.”

The obit continued,

Fern had a rich childhood spent in the beautiful woodland of Northern Vermont, surrounded by his tight and loving family. He graduated from North Country Union High School and proceeded to explore the country living a gypsy lifestyle as he traveled coast to coast, even making it to the world rainbow gathering in 2012. He touched the lives of hundreds of people, easily making friends wherever he went. Fern was a very special soul, filled with love and infectious joy that he freely shared wherever he wandered.

An active and important member of Vermont’s queer community, Fern was fluid in his gender identity and used all pronouns (he, she and they). In his heart he identified as a star-being, beyond gender. Fern was made of light, truly an angel on earth. His spirit was big and bright, with so much radiance that it attracted many people to him. Always generous with his presence, care and affection, he was loved beyond words.


2. Feather, Who Was Remembered for Kindness & Compassion, Once Rescued an Abandoned Rooster

Friends posted tributes on social media.

“Here are a couple of my best moments with Fern Feather,” wrote one friend, continuing:

Fern amazingly caught this random rooster that had been abandoned at the park n ride and brought it home to care for. We had some good times together and I will forever be a better person because of it. I have no doubt that Fern’s death was the result of a hate crime of which I pray there be justice. Fern’s life was a sacred journey of becoming and a blessing to so many in our community. Fern made a difference in the hearts of so many. Thank you for the love, kindness and compassion that you spread every where you traveled, friend. May your essence be found the Dreamtime. ✨🦅🙏🏼💜
#FernFeather #translivesmatter

Another friend wrote,

It’s been several days since I received the news that my old roommate Fern Feather was murdered last Tuesday in our old stomping grounds in Vermont.
I have been quiet to not sensationalize this tragedy and I feel called now to just share a bit of my heart.
Blessed Fern,
Dear one, you will always have a sacred special place in my heart.
I miss the way our house became like a jungle with all the plants you brought in.
You are and always will be so deeply inspiring.
Your love for the Earth, animals, and all people was a joy to behold, you always comforted those in need, thank you for this 🙏🏼
I’ll never forgot the night that our friend Dylan ate your green tourmaline while we chilled in your room 🤣🤣🤣🤣
My son remembers the Dr. Seuss book you gave him and I cherish the times when you, Baker and I would eat Indian food and talk about herbs.
May your soul be free dear old friend, you deserve to be in peace.
And I forgive your cat after it scratched my dog in the eye 🤣🙏🏼
May the Vermont community be healed and United even more through this tragedy.


3. Seth Brunell, Who Had Been in Psychiatric Care, Is Accused in Feather’s Death

According to VT Digger, Feather, 29, picked up Brunell while he was hitchhiking and they began spending time together.

Feather described Brunell as a “good guy” and “special friend” to a friend, but around 8 a.m. on April 12, 2022, the Lamoille North Supervisory Union reported that a car was “parked in their lot for some time and that there was someone in it smoking a cigarette.” Brunell told authorities he “had recently been released from the state-run Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin and had previously received a citation from the Vermont State Police for stealing a vehicle,” VTDigger reported.

They found Brunell and Feather who claimed they were trying to walk their dogs. Several hours later, Brunell is accused of confessing to Feather’s friend that he killed her, saying that Feather “had come on to me and was going crazy,” according to police reports reported by VT Digger.

Police found Feather’s body and “a bloody 12-inch knife.”

According to VTDigger, citing a police affidavit, Brunell claimed Feather made a sexual advance and claimed, “I was just defending myself,” but authorities noted no injuries or signs of “an altercation.”

Brunell told police Feather had “attacked him” and said he rejected the advance because “I wasn’t gay,” adding, “I was just protecting myself.”


4. Feather Was Described as Bringing ‘Such Joy to So Many’

Mosiac Vermont wrote:

Fern Feather was an incredible human – a gift to all who knew them, and even those who were only acquainted with them KNEW that Fern was special. She carried a light that shined on everyone – she would see right into you and recognize and uplift your amazingness. Being in her presence made you feel like a magical being.

Fern Feather was well known in our community and their murder is sending shock waves. We at Mosaic are grieving alongside our community for the loss of this precious person, and for the stark recognition that we do not live in a bubble here in Vermont; we are not immune to transphobic & homophobic hate and violence. We send deep care and love to those who were close to Fern and are feeling her loss most acutely, and we stand committed to our anti-violence work, to building our skills as violence interrupters & prevention educators in our daily lives.

The Pride Center of Vermont wrote in a statement on Facebook, “We are heartbroken by the loss of one of our community members, Fern Feather. Fern brought such joy to so many who were honored to know them and we grieve the loss of their light in this world…Pride Center plans to host a space for community to come together and mourn.”

According to the Advocate, Vermont doesn’t allow “gay panic” or “trans panic” defenses to crimes. The law specifically addresses “circumstances in which the victim made a nonforcible, noncriminal romantic or sexual advance toward the defendant,” the Advocate reported.


5. Feather Filled Her Facebook Page With Photos of Nature

On Facebook, Feather wrote that she “worked at Salt Café” and “went to Lake Region Unified High School District 24.” Feather lived in San Marcos La Laguna, was single, and was from Montpelier, Vermont.

On Facebook, Feather mostly filled her Facebook page with pictures of nature, plants, and insects.

“I’m so sorry humanity failed your path,” a friend wrote.

Nina Shoenthal, a friend of feathers, told Vermont Public Radio that Feather once stole an exotic tortoise “to rescue it.”

“Fern was one of the most brilliant, colorful, loving, special, super special people that you would ever meet,” Shoenthal said to VPR. “The kind of person that everyone loved. Everyone wanted to be close with.”

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