William DeRoos’ death — His life after Curran’s murder

William DeRoos

Vermont investigators have finally identified Rita Curran’s murderer 50 years after her death: William DeRoos. Authorities pulled a DNA sample left at the crime scene and matched it to DeRoos. When the murder happened in 1971, using DNA as an investigative tool was unheard of. Nevertheless, crime scene investigators bagged a cigarette butt found near Curran’s body. 

In 2014, the police failed to match the DNA to anyone in the law enforcement repository for genetic material. Undeterred, the authorities resorted to genetic genealogy, which matched the DNA to DeRoos’ relatives. 

DeRoos died in 1986, but if he were alive, the police said they wouldn’t hesitate to arrest him. “He would be 83 today,” Police Chief Jon Murad said. “But there is not a cop in this building who would not happily put handcuffs on him.”

DeRoos died of a morphine overdose after fleeing the country to become a Buddhist monk

Shortly after Curran’s murder, DeRoos fled to Thailand to become a Buddhist monk, ending his marriage to his then-wife Michelle. Referring to himself as a guru named Dutch, DeRoos emerged in 1974 in San Francisco, where he married Sarah Hepting. 

Hepting said DeRoos stabbed her friend without provocation. “I thought I was stabbing you,” DeRoos reportedly told Hepting. DeRoos later attacked Hepting, also absent provocation. Jim Trieb, the commander of the police department’s detective service bureau, stated DeRoos was arrested, but it’s unclear whether he faced charges. Hepting eventually parted ways with DeRoos.

DeRoos died of a morphine overdose in a San Francisco hotel in 1986, about 15 years after Curran’s murder. 

The police failed to focus on DeRoos as a suspect because his then-wife, Michelle, lied about his whereabouts. Michelle and DeRoos told investigators they’d been inside the apartment when Curran was murdered. The couple had wed two weeks before the murder. 

Five decades later, Michelle confessed that she’d lied. Michelle said that on the night of the murder, DeRoos stormed off following an argument. She stated that by the time DeRoos returned, she was asleep. 

However, during the initial police inquiry, she told investigators DeRoos never left the house. After the authorities left, DeRoos told his wife not to reveal that he’d left the apartment. DeRoos reportedly told Michelle that the police would unfairly target him due to his criminal history. 

Michelle believed him, and even after he left her to go to Thailand, she kept his secret. Curran’s siblings thanked investigators for not giving up on Curran. Tom, Curran’s brother, said:

“My mother came here from Ireland, and my father from Newfoundland. We were an old-fashioned, strong, Catholic family. I don’t think so much about the guy who did this as I do about Rita and my parents and what they went through. I pray to my parents, and I pray to Rita.”