Police in Michigan are seeking the public’s help to solve a nearly 42-year-old murder case as investigators hope advanced DNA analysis will finally give some closure to the victim’s three daughters.
Gail Webster, 48, was found fatally bludgeoned in Troy on Oct. 28, 1978, in the apartment she shared with her two of her three daughters. She was killed with an unidentified “blunt object” and there were no signs of sexual assault or forced entry to the residence, Troy police said.
“Her killer was never caught,” Troy police tweeted Tuesday in a series of posts aimed at shaking loose a tip that might finally solve Webster’s slaying. “Her family never got answers.”
The night before she was found dead, Webster, who worked at a restaurant in nearby Royal Oak, had dinner there before returning to her apartment. One of Webster’s daughters, Terry, then 25, found her lifeless body the next morning, police said.
Some three weeks earlier, police said Terry went to a nearby bar where her apartment keys and a single blank check were stolen from her car.
“Later that evening, while Terry was still out, an unknown person was heard by Gail jostling her door,” police tweeted. “Gail yelled out to the individual and he or she fled.”
That same evening, Terry spotted a suspicious vehicle in the bar’s parking lot with two men inside – a rusted, blue or green 1968 to 1970 Pontiac Tempest or Chevy. Webster’s daughter also saw what she thought was the same car on the street of their apartment on the morning of her mother’s murder — driven by someone with blonde hair, police said.
Five days after Webster was found dead, detectives got a tip about a car spotted in the area and time of her murder. The vehicle was described as a 1968 to 1970 dark blue Pontiac or Chevy with some body damage – and the driver was described as a white male about 25 years old who was wearing an Army jacket, police said.
“Who stole the keys?” Troy police tweeted. “Who was driving the suspicious car? Who KILLED Gail Webster?”
The initial investigation centered on Webster’s boyfriend, a former boyfriend and her ex-husband, all of whom were cleared via polygraph or other means, The Oakland Press reported.
Other relatives, coworkers and neighbors were also interviewed and cleared as suspects, according to the newspaper.
“We just want justice for her,” Terry Webster-King, 67, told the outlet. “There’s an answer out there … The impact of her so brutally taken away from us – that’s an emotion that’s hard to process.”
Webster’s body was exhumed in 1995 due to advances in DNA analysis, and a second autopsy was conducted, but the investigation went nowhere, The Oakland Press reported. But investigators hope the social media push and possible new lab techniques could finally solve the four-decade mystery.
“Sometimes, the guilty are just done holding secrets,” Troy police Sgt. Meghan Lehman told the newspaper. “Or maybe there could be a deathbed confession. This is the time to do it.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Troy police at (248) 524-0777.