November 17th, 2001 was a day Sandy Webster will never forget the day she learned her big brother, 28-year-old Dean Webster, was gone.
“He was a great person — always kind and caring,” she said. “I just didn’t think it was real. I needed to see him to confirm it.”
Dean Webster lived a quiet, private life in Rochester, Vermont. On November 17, 2001, he was found shot to death in the backyard of the home he was building off Sky Hollow Road.
Vermont State Police said the gunshot wounds found on Dean made clear it wasn’t an accident.
“A gun did not accidentally go off. It was an intentional act. The person or persons who shot Dean knew what they were shooting at,” said Heather Gibbs, cold case specialist with the Vermont State Police.
So who would want to kill Dean Webster? That’s the question investigators have been asking for 20 years. So has Sandy Webster, who remembers that the day before her brother’s body was found, she felt something was wrong.
“It was the night before when I was supposed to meet him, and I didn’t hear from him,” she said. “And I called him and he didn’t answer and he didn’t show up. And that really wasn’t like him – not to show up when he said he’d be there.”
Gibbs said Dean Webster’s brother saw him at Dean’s house between noon and 1 p.m. on Nov. 16.
“Then the next day his body was found by a good friend of his after other visitors had gone to Dean’s house and noticed that the lights were on and no one was coming to the door,” Gibbs said.
Investigators collected evidence at the scene, but one key piece has never been made public — the murder weapon.
“We do know what the weapon was based upon the evidence we located, but we are not releasing that,” said said Det. Sgt. Tyson Kinney, Vermont State Police Major Crimes Unit. “He did own a number of weapons, some of those have been seized, but the weapon that killed him was not anything he owned.”
In 2016, state police took a fresh look at the case. Technology helped them find two new DNA profiles. Police said they have given investigators something to compare to possible suspects.
In the meantime, Dean’s family waits for answers. Sandy Webster even moved into his Rochester home.
“Well, I just felt like it needed to be finished, and it was something that he was working on pretty hard,” she said. “So I just couldn’t see it being sold. He just loved the area and I was like, well you know, it’s his. He printed his name in the concrete here, and when I saw that it was very touching.”
The Webster family continues to seek answers. They have hired Lou Barry, a private investigator, who said the family is hoping someone who knows something will come forward.
“As more time goes by, in a sense it gets harder and sometimes it can get easier because people that were not cooperative or they have a lifestyle change, maybe they don’t have friends they used to have or they find religion or got a guilty conscience or whatever they come forward,” Barry said.
Anyone with information regarding the homicide of Dean Webster should reach out to the Vermont State Police Major Crimes Unit. Information can also be submitted anonymously at vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit, or by texting the keyword VTIPS to 274637 (CRIMES).