Vermont woman disfigured in attack reveals new face

BOSTON — A Vermont woman revealed her new face Wednesday, six years after her ex-husband disfigured her by dousing her with industrial-strength lye, and said she went through “what some may call hell” but has found a way to be happy.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton of Thetford had face transplant surgery at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in February and spoke publicly for the first time at a news conference at the hospital Wednesday.

“I’m now in a better place, mentally and emotionally, than I ever could have imagined six years ago,” Tarleton said. “I want to share my experience with others, so they may find that strength inside themselves to escape their own pain.”

In 2007, the 44-year-old mother of two was attacked by her now ex-husband Herbert Rodgers, who believed she was seeing another man. Police say he went to the house looking for that man, then went into a fury directed toward Tarleton, striking her with a bat and pouring lye from a squeeze bottle onto her face.

When police arrived, Tarleton was trying to crawl to a shower to wash away the chemical. It had already distorted her face.

In 2009, Rodgers pleaded guilty to maiming Tarleton in exchange for a prison sentence of at least 30 years.

The hospital said that during the face transplant surgery, more than 30 surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses worked for more than 15 hours to replace her skin, muscles, tendons and nerves.

The face donor was a Williamstown, Mass., woman, Cheryl Denelli Righter, who died of a sudden stroke, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Righter’s daughter, Marinda, told Tarleton on Wednesday that she looked beautiful, adding she was certain her mother had somehow picked Tarleton. “They are both mothers, they are both survivors, they are both beacons of light,” she said.

Righter said that after meeting Tarleton for the first time Tuesday, she felt overjoyed for the first time in a long time.

“I get to feel my mother’s skin again, I get to see my mother’s freckles, and through you, I get to see my mother live on,” she said. “This is truly a blessing.”

Tarleton is legally blind and read her remarks from a tablet. She thanked Righter’s family for what she called “a tremendous gift” that’s greatly alleviated the physical pain she’d felt daily.

Tarleton referred to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and said the city is “facing the challenges of pain and forgiveness.”

“There is a lot to learn and take from horrific events that happen,” Tarleton said. “I want others to know that they need not give up on feeling themselves when tragedy strikes, but instead they can make a choice to find the good and allow that to help them heal.”

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Woman confronts man leaving house with stolen item

“He swung at her with a crowbar, missing her.”

Police seek suspect in Wells Fargo bank robbery

He was described as white, in his 30s, heavyset, with blonde hair and a maroon sweatshirt.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Most Read