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Police revisit mysterious fatal beating of mother in Troy apartment from 42 years ago

Gail Webster killed at apartment on Dorchester Drive in October 1978

Gail Webster was murdered at this Troy apartment building on Oct. 28, 1978, police said.
Gail Webster was murdered at this Troy apartment building on Oct. 28, 1978, police said. (Troy Police Department)

TROY, Mich. – Police are revisiting the mysterious case of a Troy mother who was beaten to death while alone in her apartment 42 years ago.

Woman murdered in apartment

Gail Webster, 48, was alone at her apartment in the 2900 block of Dorchester Drive on Oct. 28, 1978, according to authorities.

Gail Webster
Gail Webster (Troy Police Department)

Someone beat Webster to death by hitting her in the head with an unknown “blunt object,” officials said.

Webster’s 25-year-old daughter, who also lived in the apartment, found her mother’s body around 5:55 a.m. the next day, police said.

Suspicious incident

Police said on Oct. 2, 1978, about four weeks before the murder, Webster’s 25-year-old daughter went to Piper’s Alley, which was a bar previously located at 3250 West Big Beaver Road.

Her apartment keys were stolen from her car while she was at the bar, officials said. Later that evening, while the daughter was still out, Webster heard someone jostling her apartment door handle, police said.

Gail Webster's apartment
Gail Webster's apartment (Troy Police Department)

Webster yelled out to the person and he or she fled, according to officials. Nobody saw the person or their vehicle.

Webster’s daughter reported seeing two men in a suspicious vehicle in the bar parking lot the night the keys were stolen, police said.

They were 20-25 years old, and the car was a blue or green 1968-1970 Pontiac Tempest or Chevrolet. It was beat up and rusted, according to authorities.

Gail Webster's apartment
Gail Webster's apartment (Troy Police Department)

On the morning of the murder, the daughter saw what she believed to be the same vehicle on Dorchester Drive near Coolidge Highway, she told police. The driver had blonde hair.

Vehicle tip

On Nov. 2, 1978, just days after Webster’s murder, police said they received a tip about a vehicle in the area of the apartment. It was described as a 1968-1970 dark blue Pontiac or Chevrolet that was dirty with some body damage, officials said.

The driver was described as a 25-year-old white man standing about 6 feet tall and weighing 160 pounds with black, curly hair. He was last seen wearing an Army jacket, authorities said.

Police said the vehicle was reportedly seen around 5:15 a.m. the next day -- about 40 minutes before Webster was found dead.

Investigation goes cold

Troy authorities were called to the apartment, but nobody has been arrested in the more than four decades since Webster’s murder.

Officials said there were no signs of forced entry at the apartment, and nothing was stolen.

Gail Webster's apartment
Gail Webster's apartment (Troy Police Department)

Webster had no criminal history, police said. Her then-boyfriend, a former boyfriend and an ex-husband were all investigated and cleared, according to authorities.

Revisiting the case

Webster’s three daughters are teaming up with the Troy Police Department this week to revisit the case.

Troy police said many investigative techniques have changed since the case was opened. Officials are in the process of exploring new investigative avenues, including possible new lab analysis.

Authorities and family members hope talking about the details of the case will bring someone forward who has information about what happened to Webster.

Gail Webster
Gail Webster (Troy Police Department)

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