Vermont State Police say string of homicides in October appear to be isolated incidents
An unusual spate of killings in Vermont this month don’t appear to be connected, according to law enforcement officials.
There have been six homicides this October and one suspicious death where the chief medical examiner’s officer hasn’t yet determined a cause or manner of death. State police are investigating all the cases and so far, there haven’t been any arrests, said Col. Matthew Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police.
“The fact we have not made arrests yet is not indicative of our ability to solve them — it is that they have come so quickly in such a short time period,” Birmingham said in an interview on Monday.
Four of the seven suspicious deaths this month were reported last week. Police started investigating the most recent homicide on Friday evening after hunters found the body of Jeffery Caron, 42, along Gore Road in Plainfield. The medical examiner determined that Caron, of Barre, died from a gunshot wound.
Last week, police also found the bodies of two 21-year-old men from Massachusetts in Eden. Jahim Solomon and Eric White had been missing since Oct. 15 and had reportedly been around Burlington, Lowell, Morrisville and Stowe. They both died from gunshot wounds to the head, according to the medical examiner.
Hunters also found the body of Tanairy Velazquez Estrada, 23, along Poor Farm Road in Washington. Velazquez Estrada mostly recently lived in Barre, according to police. Her mother in Fitchburg, Massachusetts reported that she hadn’t heard from Velazquez Estrada in about a week. Fitchburg police contacted Vermont police at “about the same time” Velazquez Estrada’s body was found, state police said in a press release.
The medical examiner’s office is waiting for the results of toxicology testing to determine the cause and manner of Velazquez Estrada’s death. State police are still investigating, and say her death is considered suspicious.
Earlier this month, 27-year-old Gunnar Watson, of Wheelock, was shot and killed at his home. In another incident, Wilmer Rodriquez, 27, was shot multiple times and died at a house on Farr Road in Newport town. And Honoree Flemming, a former dean at Castleton University, was shot to death while walking on a rail trail in Castleton.
All seven deaths are actively being investigated, and don’t appear to be connected, Birmingham said.
“I don't want anyone in the public to think that there is a serial killer or somebody that (is) committing these crimes because nothing leads us to believe that that is the case,” Birmingham said. “They are all isolated, and most of them are targeted.”
Anyone with information about the incidents or video or surveillance camera footage from around where the killings took place should get in touch with the state police, Birmingham said.
There have been 20 homicides in Vermont this year, including one fatal police shooting. (Prosecutors determined that Fair Haven police detective Shawn Hewitt’s shooting of Kenneth Barber in June was legally justified and declined to file any charges.)
State police are the lead investigative agency in all but five of the homicide cases so far this year. Rutland Police are investigating two, and Burlington, Brattleboro and Colchester police each have one homicide case.
“We're making good progress on many of them,” Birmingham said. “We don't investigate any homicide with a clock in terms of trying to wrap it up as fast as we can. We want to do it right the first time.”
Last year there were 25 reported homicides in Vermont, and in 2021, there were nine.
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