Vermont police release sketch of a person of interest in the killing of a retired college dean

A building at Vermont State University's Castleton Campus in Castleton, Vt., is shown Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Police were searching for a suspect who shot and killed a retired dean on a nearby rail trail last week. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

A building at Vermont State University's Castleton Campus in Castleton, Vt., is shown Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Police were searching for a suspect who shot and killed a retired dean on a nearby rail trail last week. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke) Lisa Rathke

Police sketch depicts a person of interest in the Oct. 5,  killing of Honoree Fleming  in Castleton, Vt.

Police sketch depicts a person of interest in the Oct. 5, killing of Honoree Fleming in Castleton, Vt. Detective Sgt. Adam Temple

Students walk around the Vermont State University Castleton Campus, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Castleton, Vt. Police were searching for a suspect who shot and killed a retired dean on a nearby rail trail last week. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

Students walk around the Vermont State University Castleton Campus, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Castleton, Vt. Police were searching for a suspect who shot and killed a retired dean on a nearby rail trail last week. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke) Lisa Rathke

A Vermont State Police trooper is parked on Main Street in front of a church near the Vermont State University Castleton Campus, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Castleton, Vt. Police were searching for a suspect who shot and killed a retired dean on a nearby rail trail last week. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

A Vermont State Police trooper is parked on Main Street in front of a church near the Vermont State University Castleton Campus, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Castleton, Vt. Police were searching for a suspect who shot and killed a retired dean on a nearby rail trail last week. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke) Lisa Rathke

In this 2010 photo provided by Anne Slonaker, Honoree Fleming stands for a photograph. Fleming, a retired dean and professor of education at Vermont State University, in Castleton, Vt., was found shot to death on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, on the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail about a mile south of the Castleton campus of the university. The shooting happened during the school's week-long fall break. (Anne Slonaker via AP)

In this 2010 photo provided by Anne Slonaker, Honoree Fleming stands for a photograph. Fleming, a retired dean and professor of education at Vermont State University, in Castleton, Vt., was found shot to death on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, on the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail about a mile south of the Castleton campus of the university. The shooting happened during the school's week-long fall break. (Anne Slonaker via AP) Anne Slonaker

A Vermont State trooper sits parked in a cruiser, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at the entrance to a recreational trail in Castleton, Vt. Police are searching for the killer of a retired college dean who was shot and killed last week while walking on the trail. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

A Vermont State trooper sits parked in a cruiser, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at the entrance to a recreational trail in Castleton, Vt. Police are searching for the killer of a retired college dean who was shot and killed last week while walking on the trail. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke) Lisa Rathke

By LISA RATHKE

Associated Press

Published: 10-12-2023 5:20 PM

CASTLETON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont State Police on Wednesday released a sketch of a person of interest in the killing of a retired college dean who was shot dead last week while walking on her favorite trail near the Vermont State University campus.

The crime has shaken the small college town of Castleton as police warn the public to remain vigilant and said they don’t yet know if the shooting was random or targeted.

The composite sketch was created from witnesses’ accounts of a man they saw on the trail before they came across Honoree Fleming’s body, said Capt. Scott Dunlap, commander of the Vermont State Police major crime unit. Fleming died of a gunshot wound to the head while walking along the trail that follows a former railroad bed, police said.

The man was described as 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) white male with short, red hair, who appeared to be in his 20s. He was wearing a dark gray T-shirt and carrying a black backpack, and is considered armed and dangerous, police said.

Witnesses reported that the man was acting odd, Dunlap said, but he would not elaborate. More than one person observed the man but Dunlap would not say how many.

“A person of interest, a suspect, it’s definitely somebody we want to talk to,” he said.

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Students and residents in Castleton were being told to lock their doors and stick together as police have been searching for the killer.

“Just be vigilant and you know if you see something say something. Please report it,” Dunlap said Wednesday.

Amelia Harrison, a university student who works at a pizza shop and a restaurant in town, said she sometimes gets out at 11 p.m. and looks around while she’s walking to her car, locking it immediately once she’s inside since the shooting. She said she’s surprised how long it’s taking to make an arrest.

“I thought it would be an overnight thing especially because it’s such a small town,” she said Wednesday.

Fleming was a retired dean and professor of education at what was called Castleton State College and is now the Vermont State University Castleton Campus. She was found shot to death Thursday afternoon about a mile (1.61 kilometers) south of campus.

Police spokesman Dunlap said Wednesday that police still don’t know if the shooting was random or targeted.

Castleton, in west-central Vermont, is about 5 miles east of the Vermont-New York border in an area known for scenic mountain views and slate and marble quarries. The university, founded in 1787 was closed last week for fall break. Students were excused from classes when it reopened Monday, and classes resumed Tuesday.