20-Year-Old Vermont Man Charged With Murder For Killing Cop in Head-On Crash

The Vermont man accused of killing a police officer during a pursuit last July pleaded not guilty on April 9 to the additional charge of aggravated murder and had his conditional release revoked, the Associated Press reported.

The judge denied the defense’s request to allow 20-year-old Tate Rheaume to remain released on bail and remanded him into custody pending an evidentiary hearing.

According to Rutland County State’s Attorney Ian Sullivan, Rheaume “engaged in extraordinarily dangerous driving” on July 7, 2023, when he weaved in and out of traffic at speeds exceeding 80 mph before driving head-on into two police cruisers.

According to the arrest affidavit, Rheaume led Rutland City Police on a chase after he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home. His ex-girlfriend was not home at the time, having taken their two children to her grandmother’s house. Her current boyfriend called the police after security footage showed Rheaume at their residence.

Sullivan said Rheaume was driving between 76 and 82 mph in a 35 mph zone when he crashed into two police cruisers. Rutland City Police Officer Jessica Ebbighausen, 19, was thrown from the vehicle and killed. Two other officers injured in the crash were transported to Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Rheume, who was also injured in the crash, told detectives that he didn’t pull over because he feared that an arrest would hurt his chances of enlisting with the US Marine Corps.

In the April 10 hearing, defense attorney Sean Milligan cited Rheaume’s compliance with the conditions of his initial release and told the court that his client was not a danger to the public nor a flight risk. Milligan noted that his client was unable to work due to the injuries he sustained in the crash and reminded the court that his family posted a cash surety of $100,000 to obtain his release from jail in July.

However, the judge said the additional charge of aggravated murder increased the flight risk since it carried a possible life sentence.

Officer Ebbinghausen had only been with the Rutland City Police Department as a part-time officer for three months before she was killed. She was expected to begin training at the police academy in August.