Monadnock Beat

Ken Sheldon takes deep dive into 100-year-old Dean Farm murder case

Deep Water, by New Hampshire author Kenneth M. Sheldon, is the true story of the murder of William K. Dean in 1918.

In the waning days of World War I, William K. Dean was brutally murdered, his body hog-tied and dumped in a rainwater cistern on his farm in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. 

Suspicion quickly fell on Dean’s wife, an invalid in the early stages of dementia. Her friends pointed instead to a former tenant of Dean’s, whom many suspected of being a German spy. Others believed that Dean’s best friend, a politically powerful banker and judge, was involved.

Deep Water—Murder, Scandal, and Intrigue in a New England Town, by New Hampshire authorKenneth M. Sheldon, will be released June 15 by Down East Books. 

“Deep Water is a true story with all the elements of a classic Agatha Christie mystery,” says Sheldon. “Red herrings, multiple suspects, and enough plot twists to keep you guessing until the end.”

Deep Water is based on Sheldon’s extensive research into the Dean murder, which includedthousands of pages of FBI documents, grand jury testimonies, newspaper accounts, private correspondence, and the archives of the Jaffrey Historical Society. 

“I began writing Deep Water because I thought William Dean deserved justice, even at this late date,” he says. “The truth needed to be told, to whatever extent I could uncover it.”

Sheldon was formerly the West Coast Bureau Chief for Byte Magazine. His writing has appeared in publications ranging from Acoustic Guitar to New Hampshire Magazine and Yankee Magazine, where he has been a regular columnist. He is the author of several books, including Welcome to Frost Heaves, a collection of Yankee humor written under his pen name Fred Marple. 

Author Kenneth M. Sheldon will read from Deep Water, his true-crime book about the murder of William K. Dean, beginning July 9 in Jaffrey.

Sheldon will read from Deep Water, discuss the process of its writing, answer questions, and sign copies of the book on July 9 at the Jaffrey Civic Center at 10 a.m., with additional readings on July 30 at 10 a.m. at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough, and on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Hancock Town Library.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, go to the author’s website at or email

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