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Retired Vermont State University Dean, 77, Fatally Shot in Head on Hiking Trail

“Scores of students benefited from Dr. Fleming’s teachings and research,” Vermont State University said in a statement after former dean Honoree Fleming’s body was found late last week.


By Dorian Geiger
A police handout of Honoree Fleming

Authorities are scrambling to identify the killer of a 77-year-old retired Vermont State University dean who was found shot to death along a hiking trail last week.

No arrests have been made in the fatal shooting of Honoree Fleming, whose body was discovered on Thursday afternoon on the Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail in Castleton, according to Vermont State Police. Her remains were recovered roughly one mile from Vermont State University’s Castleton Campus where Fleming had previously worked.

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An autopsy on Friday confirmed she’d been shot in the head, investigators said. Her death was ruled a homicide. A possible motive in the case hasn’t yet been revealed by officials. 

Is there a suspect in Honoree Fleming's murder? 

Vermont State Police previously said in a news release on Saturday that witnesses on the trail have described seeing someone around the time of the alleged murder that authorities have classified as a person of interest. Witnesses described the person as a white male with short red hair, who is approximately 5'10", and was last seen wearing a dark gray t-shirt and carrying a black backpack. Police said Saturday that, "The suspect is considered armed and dangerous."

A police handout of Honoree Fleming

In the aftermath of Fleming’s murder, police have combed through more than 200 tips in their search for her killer. Vermont State Police are now urging the public, as well as businesses and hunters to check their surveillance cameras for any suspicious activity from around the time of Fleming’s slaying. Investigators haven’t specified what, if any, evidence they’ve found while searching the area of the trail where Fleming’s body was discovered. 

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So far, state authorities said that the security camera footage they have reviewed “hasn’t been much of a help.”

“We’re still canvassing the area,” Major Dan Trudeau of the Vermont State Police said at news conference Friday, according to the Associated Press. “It is early hunting season. There’s hunters who may have game cameras in the woods.”

Honoree Fleming was "Beloved by Faculty, Staff, and Students"

Fleming was a retired Dean of Education at Vermont State University’s Castleton Campus. University officials, who confirmed Fleming’s death in a statement on Friday, described her death as an “unbelievable tragedy.” 

“Honoree was a part of the Castleton family and was beloved by faculty, staff, and students,” the university said in the statement. “Scores of students benefited from Dr. Fleming’s teachings and research."

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The school, which was closed on Friday due to the ongoing investigation, was expected to resume classes on Tuesday.

The university said Fleming had previously served as a faculty member at Trinity College, Middlebury College, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai prior to arriving at Castleton Campus.

A police handout of Honoree Fleming

“Our hearts go out to the members of our community who taught with Honoree and had her as a beloved teacher during their time at Castleton,” the school’s statement added. “Our deepest sympathies go to her husband, Ron, family and friends.”

Fleming is married to Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times best-selling author Ron Powers, who is best known for co-authoring the World War II non-fiction, Flags of Our Fathers, which was published in 2000. He told the Associated Press his wife loved to walk the Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail.

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“There is an area-wide dragnet out for her killer,” Powers said in an online statement on Friday. “Police believe that it was random, but all possibilities remain open.”

Fleming was killed days before the couple was slated to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.

“Those of you who knew her know that she was beautifully named,” Powers added. “I have never known a more sterling heart and soul than hers. She has taken far more than half my own heart and soul with her.”

Anyone with information related to Fleming’s murder is urged to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-773-9101.

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