Home — Murder, “cold” cases, and mayhem

This website is intended to deal with murder, brutality, corruption and hatred—all falling under what we call acts of injustice.  We tell the stories of open and unsolved homicides–what are called “cold” cases.  We also memorialize those whose lives have been taken from them in hope that somebody will come forward to tell the truth. So far our efforts center on Michigan.

David B. Schock, Ph.D.

“Somebody knows somethin’.  Somebody ALWAYS knows somethin’.”

That’s the way Jim Fairbanks put it when we made our first film, Who Killed Janet Chandler?  Detective Fairbanks (retired) was the lead investigator on the law enforcement team in 1979.  What he had to say then still applies today.  For nearly every unsolved homicide there is somebody out there who could solve it if she or he would come forward and make a contact.

To call an unsolved homicide a “cold” case is chilling in its own right.  Yes, these unsolved cases grow “cold” because there are no new leads; they more or less drop off the social and cultural radar.  But they are NEVER “cold” to the family members and friends, they are never forgotten or out of mind.  And there is always the hope that justice, however delayed, will be served.

We invite you to visit the We Remember part of this site, a place where families and friends of those whose murders remain unsolved contact us and can help to post details of the victims’ lives and the resultant investigations.

We also invite your view of what we are calling a Primary Documentary Investigation as we tell the story of the murder of Mina Dekker.

Our hope in all the cases we chronicle is that somebody who knows something will say something.

From David — A Weblog of investigation:

July 22, 2020 — And that’s how he died

We reported on the June 8 death of James Cleophus “Bubba” Nelson. At the time we had no cause of death. That has been rectified.

According to the Jackson County Clerk’s Office, the cause of death was complications of metastatic prostate cancer. I am so grateful for the kindly offered help of the Clerk’s office.

Nelson’s hometown obituary read this way:

JAMES CLEOPHUS NELSON, 73, formerly of Charleston, W.Va., born on May 31, 1947, to the Late Edward and Jessie Nelson. He passed away on June 8, 2020, at Duane Waters Medical Center in Jackson, Mich., after a long illness.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Lynn Nelson; his brothers, Eugene, William, Floyd, Leon, Howard, Herbert; and sister, Virginia.

He leaves to cherish his memory his sons, Ricardo and Marcus Nelson of Cincinnati, Ohio; sisters, Ethel Bright (Ronald), Maxine Nelson, Naomi Courts, all of Charleston, W.Va., Lucille Nelson of Columbus, Ohio; a host of a nieces and nephews, relatives and friends.

Arrangements entrusted to Sherwood Funeral Home in Jackson, Mich. Due to the COVID-19, a private memorial will be provided at a later date.

Here is a link to the newspaper account including a pacific smiling photograph of the deceased.

No place in the obituary does it mention that he was a murderous monster. But then, most often families get to pay for obituaries and so they pretty much read the way the families want them to.

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June 15, 2020 — Word has come that James Cleophus “Bubba” Nelson died in prison

The same source who shared that Harry Dean Keith died also shared that James Cleophus “Bubba” Nelson has died in prison.

Here is the account according the WHTC in Holland. And, while it makes no mention of his death here, is the OTIS sheet for his discharge:

He was a monster. After raping and killing Janet he went on to attack another woman some years later. As in Janet’s case, he used a belt to strangle her and, after raping her, left her for dead. When he was sentenced that woman drove from the south, Ohio maybe, and tried to get to the Grand Haven courtroom in time to see him come to justice. The roads were slippery and she was involved in a car crash. Still, she managed to get there, but too late to witness the sentencing. All that took great courage.

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June 15, 2020 — Harry Dean Keith has died

Harry Dean Keith, involved in the 1979 murder of Janet Chandler, has died. We learned of his March 17 death from a reader. His testimony during the trial helped to advance the cases against the six who were charged. (Two pled and four were convicted.) You can view it here. There was plenty more that he knew that he took to the grave. It’s my assessment that he could have been much more helpful.

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May 21, 2020 — Michael Pagel admits his role in the killing of his wife, Renee

Another long-time-in-coming result…this time in the August 5, 2006 murder of Renee Pagel.

Her husband, Michael was arrested in February and charged in masterminding the murder of his wife.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker and Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young, released a joint statement that read, in part: “It is gratifying to see him finally accept some responsibility for her murder for which he has been a suspect since the very beginning. The children of Michael and Renee were consulted before considering a plea offer, and we decided on this course of action based on their response and approval.”

A trial, they noted, would have been “extraordinarily difficult for this family.”

Michael Pagel alleges in his guilty plea that he convinced his brother to kill Renee, stabbing her to death in the couples’ Courtland Township home.

Investigators are not so sure about the brothers involvement. The statement continued:

“We were aware of the possibility that Michael Pagel may implicate others in the actual murder when he gave a factual basis for his plea. At this time, it is important to note that we are not aware of any independent evidence that can corroborate the statements Mr. Pagel made today.

“If Mr. Pagel wants to provide his version of events to the investigative team, they will listen to him, and follow up if he has any evidence to support his claim. This (prosecuting attorney) office and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department are committed to holding any person involved in Renee’s murder responsible for their actions. The statement of a defendant alone, with nothing more to support his version of events, is not enough by itself to charge anyone, with any crime. Without any supporting evidence, it is merely a statement of a man perhaps trying to save face in admitting his guilt in the murder of his wife, and should be treated as such.”

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May 20, 2020 — Dennis Bowman WILL face charges in his adopted daughter’s murder

Finding her remains was the first step to a finish. When police did that in February–excavating and revealing skeletal remains beneath a concrete slab– it was just a matter of time. Of course, 31 years has been a lot of time but a mother’s love and the determination of law enforcement were a combination that even this evil could not withstand.

And now Dennis Lee Bowman has been charged with murder, first-degree child abuse and mutilation of a body for allegedly killing his adopted daughter, known as Aundria Bowman. She was Alexis Miranda Badger to her birth mother, Cathy Terkanian. Here is the story of how she came to be Dennis Bowman’s adopted daughter.

And here is video of the announcement by Allegan Prosecuting Attorney Myrene Koch of the charges.

Dennis Bowman is in Virginia just now, the only suspect in the 1980 murder of Kathleen O’Brien Doyle, a 25-year-old daughter of a naval officer and wife of a deployed U.S. Navy pilot. He will be returned to Michigan to stand trial in Alexis’ murder.

Here is a report of the arrest from People Magazine.

She was Alexis. She is Alexis.

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