MIDDLEBURY-Vermont's most famous unsolved homicide case was the gruesome triple murder which took place off Route 116 in East Middlebury in the spring of 1935.
Facts about the East Middlebury homicide, which languished for nearly 76 years, resurfaced recently thanks to the efforts of two Addison County women - Kathy Brande and Roxanna Emilo - who are writing a novel about the crime.
Despite several lurid details that beg speculation, the 1935 East Middlebury case still remains a mystery. And with the passage of nearly a century, it's unlikely now that the crime will ever be solved.
Yet, there are 27 unsolved cases in the Green Mountain State which haven't grown so cold and are just as gruesome; murders which left behind grief, uncertainty and lack of closure - murders with no resolutions that might earn "case closed" status. Even as the years pass by these mystery homicides, state detectives are still pursuing leads.
Currently, the Vermont State Police offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the resolution of so-called major case investigations.
Information rewarded by the VSPmust lead to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for the major crimes. In fact, the VSP - like state police agencies elsewhere - offers rewards with an emphasis on unsolved homicides and missing persons, especially where foul play is suspected by investigators.
Here are several brief accounts of infamous Vermont murders still being investigated by the State Police. While decades may have passed, these cases remain active and detectives are keen in talking with any member of the public about them.
Who killed Mary Morales?
A passing motorist found the nude body of Mary Morales - dumped alongside a guardrail on Interstate 91 in Vernon - on the morning of March 4, 1999 near Mile Marker 4.
A resident of Springfield, Mass., it is believed that Morales, 36, accepted a ride home after a day's work at Unicare, Inc. in Springfield on March 3. It is likely that Morales knew the driver who was also the murderer.
Mary Morales' husband, Edgardo Morales, was known to be involved with drug activity in the north end of Springfield. Although he was not a suspect in Morales' death, it is believed individuals associated with Edgardo Morales may have killed the as part of a retaliation strike - perhaps a drug deal gone bad. Vermont State Police have recovered several pieces of evidence relative to this homicide, but are still searching for additional clues.
According to VSPDet./Sgt. John Merrigan, there are several suspects living, or had lived, in the Springfield, Mass. area. All of Mary Morales' family and friends left the Springfield area after the murder, he noted.
VSPDet. Richard Holden said he suspects that Morales was killed in Massachusetts and her body dumped in Vermont.
Springfield, Mass. Police have identified "persons of interest," but an arrest has yet to be made a dozen years after the murder. Holden noted that, as much as it troubles him to say it, "there's a killer out there somewhere."
If you have any information on the Morales case, contact Det./Sgt. Merrigan at 802-875-2112.
The killing field
The 1977 unsolved murder of Joan Gray Rogers has plagued state investigators since her body was found July 15, 1977.
Rogers' body was found in a fallow field on the old Bagley Farm along Highway 45. Apparently, she was strangled manually, but beyond the typical marks of strangulation, no evidence was found to point to a motive or a killer.
Described as having gray-brown, blue eyes, and weighing 175 pounds, Rogers is remembered as being a friendly, pleasant neighbor.
VSPDet. Kelley Clark said the woman was last seen by a couple, Mr. and Mrs Patrick and Patricia Preman, on July 15, 1977 at approximately 7:30 p.m. She was driving from Hardwick village towards her farm. Nothing is known about the person who strangled Rogers or a possible motive, Clark said.
If you have any information on this person, contact Det. Clark at 802- 334-8881, ext. 2315.
A Chittenden murder mystery
The skeletal remains of Catherine P. Maranville were found along a wooded area near the Ager Road in Chittenden on April 19, 1987. The woman, who lived in Glens Falls, N.Y., had not been seen there since Aug. 1, 1983.
VSPDet. Sgt. Albert Abdelnour said Maranville's death is considered suspicious and is still being investigated by the State Police as a homicide. How and why Maranville ended up along a road in Rutland County is still a mystery.
If you have any information on this person, contact Det. Sgt. Abdelnour at the Vt. State Police in Rutland at 802-773-9101.
A dark and hollow sky in Rochester
Young Dean Webster, of Rochester, had a promising future ahead of him until the overcast day of Nov. 17, 2001. On that day, State Police found Webster's body in the back yard of his residence on Sky Hollow Road in Rochester.
Several Webster family members were the last to see Dean Webster alive. But they could provide scant information that might have helped state detectives to unravel the mystery surrounding Webster's untimely death.
VSPDet. Sgt. Michael O'Neil said fellow detectives eventually determined that Webster's backyard death - out of sight of neighbors - was not accidental; it was murder. But no other clues have shown up in the intervening years since 2001.
A reward of up to $2,000 is available for information on Dean Webster case. If you have any information on case, contact Det. Sgt. O'Neil at 802-234-9933.
Murder in Morrisville
At the time of her murder Sept. 2, 1993, in Morrisville, 42-year-old Cheryl Peters was just beginning a new chapter in her life. She had been separated from her husband and was making tentative steps toward a new life after moving in with a male roommate. Roommate Richard Fitzgerald came home from work to find Peters dead, killed by a single gunshot wound.
A witness in the neighborhood told State Police detectives that during the evening of Sept. 1, a white male, approximately 170-200 pounds in weight, with dark hair and a dark mustache, entered the Peters residence.
Sgt. Rick Desany of the Vermont State Police sad the witness reported that about 5 to 6 minutes later, the unidentified male left the house carrying a large bag. Who Peters' male visitor was, and what he carried in the bag, remains a mystery to this day.
Sgt. Desany is still investigating this homicide and can be reached at 802-524-5993.