Loob's story is a narrative about the past, ray. If you are writing about the past, you should use "were". It doesn't matter that the person is still dead in the present: When I walked into the room, I saw her lying on the couch. She was dead. = She was dead when I saw her on the couch.
It doesn't matter that she is still dead now. I am talking about her condition at some time in the past.