by Guy Page
Vermont State Police have identified the victim of the homicide in Castleton on Thursday, October 5 as 77-year-old Honoree Fleming of Castleton, a retired Castleton State College dean and wife of best-selling author Ron Powers.
An autopsy was completed Friday at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington. The medical examiner determined the cause of her death was gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death is a homicide.
Police responded at about 4:30 p.m. to the Rail Trail near 1660 South Street after receiving a call regarding a deceased female. Arriving troopers discovered Fleming deceased at the scene.
A witness in the area reported a possible suspect was northbound on the rail trail walking towards the Castleton University campus after gunshots were heard. The witness described a white male approximately 5’10”, short dark-colored hair, last seen wearing a dark gray t-shirt and carrying a black backpack. The Vermont State Police ask anyone on the rail trail around this time who may have observed the male to call the Vermont State Police.
The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. The public is urged to remain vigilant and alert for suspicious person(s) and activities and to report anything suspicious to the Vermont State Police at 802-773-9101. Tips also may be submitted anonymously online at https://vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit.
The Vermont State police are also requesting the public and businesses in the Castleton area to review their surveillance systems and game cameras for the possible suspect from early afternoon to evening hours of October 5.
This investigation is on-going and involves members of the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Field Force Division, Crime Scene Search Team, Victim Services Unit and Castleton Police Department.
Vermont State University issued this statement:
Vermont State University, and especially our Castleton campus, is deeply saddened to learn that Honoree Fleming, PhD., 77, a retired Dean of Education, died yesterday as a victim of a homicide on the D&H Rail Trail a mile from the Castleton campus.
Honoree was a beloved dean and professor at Castleton and an impressive researcher with countless papers published. Faculty, staff, and students alike loved her. Honoree was a true member of the Castleton family. Honoree lived in Castleton with her husband, Ron Powers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author.
Vermont State President Mike Smith said, “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. Our deepest sympathies go to her husband, Ron, family, and friends. This is an unbelievable tragedy for the Castleton campus and for all of Vermont State University. Honoree will be deeply missed.”
Powers is the co-author of the best-selling Flags of Our Fathers, about the men who raised the flag over Iwo Jima. He also wrote No One Cares About Crazy People: My Family and the Heartbreak of Mental Illness in America; White Town Drowsing: Journeys to Hannibal; Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain, and Mark Twain: A Life, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Powers and Fleming testified before the 2014 Vermont Legislature about the impact of mental illness on the family. One of their sons committed suicide as a result of mental illness, and another later suffered a psychotic break.