Vermont police searching for person who shot, killed wife of Pulitzer Prize-winning author from Hannibal

Ron Powers and wife

Ron Powers, who was born in Hannibal, Mo., and co-wrote the book “Flags of Our Fathers,” about the men involved in the famous flag-raising during the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima, poses for a photo with his wife, Honoree Fleming, a retired educator and researcher at Vermont State University. | Photo from Brattleboro Reformer provided by Ron Powers

CASTLETON, Vt. — Vermont State Police are asking the public, businesses and hunters near a state university campus to review their surveillance systems after a retired dean and professor who was married to best-selling author Ron Powers was found shot to death on a rail trail this week. 

Police said Friday night an autopsy showed that Honoree Fleming, 77, of Castleton, died from a gunshot wound to the head on Thursday afternoon. She was found on the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail about a mile south of the Castleton campus of Vermont State University, which was closed on Friday because of the investigation. 

A witness reported a possible suspect was northbound on the trail walking towards the campus after gunshots were heard, police said. The witness described a 5-foot-10-inch white male with short, dark-colored hair, last seen wearing a dark gray T-shirt and carrying a black backpack. State police said he is considered to be armed and dangerous.

Fleming was a beloved retired dean of education and researcher “with countless papers published,” the university said in a statement Friday. 

She also was the wife of Powers, who was born in Hannibal, Mo., and co-wrote the book “Flags of Our Fathers,” about the men involved in the famous flag-raising during the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima. A Pulitzer Prize winner in 1973 for criticism, he also wrote a biography of Mark Twain and more recently, “No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America,” about his sons’ battles with schizophrenia. 

“There is an area-wide dragnet out for her killer,” Powers posted on his Facebook page Friday. “Police believe that it was random, but all possibilities remain open.” 

He added, “Those of you who knew her know that she was beautifully named. I have never known a more sterling heart and soul than hers. She has taken far more than half my own heart and soul with her.”

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