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Town of New Meadows mourns couple killed in Hartland Inn shooting

“Rory and Sara were the kind of community members you want your whole community to be filled with," New Meadows Mayor Julie Good said.

NEW MEADOWS, Idaho — New Meadows is grieving after a Saturday afternoon shooting killed two residents, Rory and Sara Mehen, according to the Adams County Sherriff’s Office.

The couple owned and operated the Hartland Inn in New Meadows.

“Overwhelming sadness,” New Meadows Mayor Julie Good said. “For no apparent reason.”

The Adams County Sherriff’s Office has not released a motive behind the shooting, which happened inside the Hartland Inn office. Good said the Mehens were exemplary community members.

“Rory and Sara were the kind of community members you want your whole community to be filled with. They love the community, they were business owners, they were hard workers. They knew how to enjoy the outdoors, and were so intent on doing something positive,” Good said. “This is very personal for many, many people. My greatest concern is that we find a way to walk through this and heal together while giving each other time to grieve.”

Several business owners near the intersection of Highway 95 and Highway 55 in the heart of New Meadows left their businesses closed into Monday evening. Good said everyone grieves at a different pace; what’s important is they move forward together.

“They were too young,” Good said.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Dorsey Warr Memorial Park in New Meadows.

“This is what makes small communities amazing. When things get hard. We don’t run different directions. We come together and that’s what I’m seeing already,” Good said.

KTVB spoke with several New Meadows residents and business owners Monday evening. None were comfortable speaking with KTVB on the record.

Rory was actively involved with the community and currently spearheading a new project to build a new skatepark in New Meadows. He scheduled a fundraising event at the Hartland Inn for Saturday, Oct. 8.

Community members in town, including Good, are unsure how the fundraiser will change or be impacted –- a new date may be set.

“That just happened to be his current project at the time,” Good said. “They made a great impact. What we can do is let their lives continue to be an on impact ours. In the way they treated others and they way they treated the people at the Inn, we can continue that. That’s my hope.”

John Cody Hart, 28, is suspected of killing the victims. He was arrested Saturday just north of Cambridge along US 95, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Washington County and Adams County deputies, along with the Weiser Police Department, performed a traffic stop on Hart's vehicle. 

Hart is a resident of Washington state and was a guest of the Hartland Inn, according to the Adams County Sheriff's Office.

Following the traffic stop, Hart was taken into custody and transported to the Washington County Sheriff's Office. He was interviewed by detectives and booked into the Washington County Jail on two counts of first-degree murder. 

"We would like to thank all the agencies that assisted during this critical event. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families affected by this tragedy," the Adams County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

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