ROCHESTER, Vt. (WFFF) — Nov. 17, 2001 was a day Sandy Webster will never forget the day she learned her big brother, 28-year-old Dean Webster, was gone. He reportedly 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. “He was a great person—always kind and caring,” Sandy said. “I just didn’t think it was real. I needed to see him to confirm it.”
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, a cold case specialist with the Vermont State Police.
For 20 years, investigators have been asking who would want to kill Dean Webster. Sandy, who remembers feeling that something was wrong the day before her brother’s body was found, has the same question.
“It was the night before when I was supposed to meet him, and I didn’t hear from him,” she said. “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 November 16.
“Then the next day his body was found by a good friend of his,” Gibbs said. “After other visitors had gone to Dean’s house and noticed that the lights were on, and no one was coming to the door.” 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 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, Sandy moved into Dean’s Rochester home. “It needed to be finished, and it was something that he was working on pretty hard,” she said. “I just couldn’t see it being sold. He just loved the area and I was like, 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,” Barry said. “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.”