MIDDLEBURY-Two Addison County women are continuing their self-financed search for clues about a trio of unsolved murders that occurred in East Middlebury in 1935. The women are jointly writing a book about Vermont's oldest, unsolved multiple murder.
On May 1, Roxanna Emilo of Middlebury and Kathy Brande of Bristol joined a team of searchers from Green Mountains Treasure Hunters, Inc. The firm is owned by Jack Dapsis from Bridport.
Dapsis used the technology of metal detection to locate missing metal objects or in our case to possibly unearth forensic evidence at the scene of the murders just north of the Middlebury State Airport.
"We also had a few family members, and friends come to help explore the gravesite of the three skeletons found at the base of the Green Mountains in 1935," Emil said. "The hope was to discover anything that might be related to that event."
In 1935, according to the women, three bodies presumed to be a mother and her two children were dumped on the road leading from the Case Street Road to the old Brookins-Blackmer Camp in the foothills four or five miles from downtown Middlebury.
"Each had been shot through th head and then dumped by the side of a lonely road leading from East Middlebury to Bristol," Emilo said. "It was a road not traveled much on even in 1935. Each had been shot through the head. The skull of the female retained a .38 caliber copper jacked bullet."
Both Emilo and Brande said other crime scene evidence included grommets, pulleys, a green and buff striped canvas awning, rope fragments, blanket, silk, pearl button, probable pillow feathers, and some hair.
"They were wrapped in the awning and dumped in a heap-covered with branches about 18 inches from the logging trail," Emilo said.
"In 1935, this was a very isolated spot. Now there are homes dotting the pavement that runs parallel to the logging trail as well as the VAST Snowmobile Trail which runs right beside the spot where the bodies were wrapped and dumped," according to Brande.
Further back in the wood was the old Brookins-Blackmer campsite.
"The building is long gone, however, you are still able to see the small, but identifiable stone foundation that the camp once sat on," Emilo noted.
Not far from the site is a large boulder, a marking spot that identifies where the camp once stood.
"The exciting piece of this expedition was that several items were found that could be related to the unsolved murders. A few of the items found not directly related to the murders, but interesting because of the age of the items were a door latch, nails, bed springs and a mangled cooking stove; and of particular interest was a large opened safe and five bullets. The door to the safe was off but nearby," according to Emilo.
Both women said the bullets located by Dapsis' metal detector were of different calibers.
According to Dapsis, one of the remains was from a .351 self-loading weapon, the first of semi-automatic weapon made during the 1920s and '30s, and used well into the 1970s.
"This gun would have been used for deerhunting, but also commonly used by gangsters," according to Dapsis.
"The other interesting bullet casing found was of a .38 caliber casing which is the same casing that could hold a bullet that was found in one of the skulls possibly fired from a Colt automatic," Emilo said. "This will be determined after experts can verify our suspicions."
Intruiging? You bet.
"Even though the chances were slim that something directly related to the crime would be found it was worth spending the time to investigate," Emilo noted.
According to some Vermont newspaper reports at the time of the crime, the night the bodies were found an Addison County sheriff, the state's attorney, and a local doctor removed the victims remains; they wanted to put a stop to a circus-like atmosphere that was developing at the crime scene.
"People were helping themselves to souvenirs whenever they could; over the next few days, after the skeletons were found, the lonely road was like the Rutland Fair," Emilo said. "Cars were parked everywhere. Some folks were taking and selling crime-scene photos. It was very possible that there could have been other items left behind."
Personal items from long ago often turn up today, Emilo and Brande said-and that was their motivation to search the EAst Middlebury site after 76 years.
"It was very interesting to see what Mr. Dapsis from Green Mountain Treasure Hunters had to share with us after our expedition was over," Brande said.
Among Dapsis' treasures were old buckles, jewelry, pottery, and coins.
"One of the coins he found in his hunt in Vermont was a 1796 Spanish coin and another coin he found was created when the 13 colonies became the 13 states. All found in Vermont," according to Emilo.
Both women said the hunt for evidence in East Middlebury was worth it.
"It's sad when you think of those unidentified bodies," Emilo said. "A mother and her two children-who were they? What were their names? Walking in those woods makes you think about that. 'If Woods Could Talk' is the title of our forthcoming book about the murders because only the woods hold the untold secrets about this horrible crime."
Check It Out: Researchers Roxanna Emilo and Kathy Brande want to talk with long-term residents of Addison County who might know about the 1935 unsolved triple murder. They want to learn about tidbits or stories that circulated in the years following the murders. Contact Emilo at 349-9837/388-4440 or Brande at 453-7021. If you wish to remain confidential, you can write to Emilo at P.O. Box 586, East Middlebury, Vt., 05740.