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.

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:

August 7, 2015 — Sheila Reed sentenced for her lies

A year of house arrest and five years of probation for the woman who witnessed Joel Battaglia’s June 11, 1990 murder on Lake Drive in Grand Rapids. She was questioned, both by police and Joel’s parents, Gail and Jerry. She knew nothing, she maintained, until she was caught out in perjury last year. Then she risked life in prison if she didn’t tell truth. So, she testified to what she witnessed: Aurelias J. Marshall beating a white boy on the other side of the street from her bedroom window.

She now expresses sorrow that she didn’t tell what she knew 25 years ago. You can read one of the many stories here by WZZM reporter John Hogan. So, the trial of Malcolm Jeffries begins August 31. I heard Jeffries was described during the preliminary hearing as one of the assailants in Joel’s murder. Acey Marshall (who had come to pick up his brother, Aurelias) testified that he watched Jeffries kicking Joel in the head. Perhaps we’ll learn a lot more.

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July 22, 2015 — A day of justice in White Cloud

Yes, they went away…Matt Jones for mandatory life and Paul Jones slightly above the sentencing guidelines–30 to 75 years. Twenty-seventh Circuit Court Chief Judge Anthony A. Monton found his way clear to that; it could have been as little as 12 years, had he so decided. Not surprisingly, both convicted killers professed their innocence, something they have to do if they have any hope of appeal.

I was there as an observer, not a reporter. Heather Lynn Peters filed this story of the Muskegon Chronicle and the Grand Rapids Press.

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July 0, 2015 — The Jones Brothers face their sentences tomorrow.

Matthew (Skip) and Pul Jones face sentencing tomorrow for the 1989murder of Shannon Marie Siders. That will take place in the courthouse in White Cloud at 2:30 p.m. I plan to be there. Matt is facing a mandatory life term, but Paul–who may be more culpable–might face a lesser term of imprisonment…or not. We’ll see.

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July 9-11, 2015 — Aurelias Jualious Marshall goes away for life.

With the condemnation of Judge Mark Truscock, Aurelias Marshall was sentenced to life in prison Thursday, July 9, for the 1990 murder of 23-year-old Christopher Joel Battaglia. Oh, yes, Marshall protested his innocence, but I think the only ones in the court room who gave that any credence were a former partner and  small coterie of family members. The rest saw Marshall for what I believe he is: a monster. Justice has been served.

The sentencing was my first big day out since my back surgery May 19. With videographer Phil Blauw I sat in the courtroom and watched and listened.

Jeremy Battaglia, Joel’s brother, gave his victim impact statement first, followed by his mother, Gail, and father, Jerry.

You can read and see reports here of pretty much all that transpired:

mlive: Man who killed Joel Battaglia is ‘face of evil,’ victim’s family says at sentencing

WZZM: No parole in case of Grand Rapids man killed in 1990

Fox17: Man convicted in 1990 Eastown murder sentenced to life in prison

As we were headed out of town, I got a call from Philip (one “l” please) Dawson, who remembered that our documentary from last summer might have had something to do with all of this. Could we talk? Yes, of course, and thank you for thinking of us.

This is the result of that chat: Documentary may have helped solve cold case homicide

In this case, Aurelias Marshall was on the radar from the get go. His name was unknown to us at the time of making the film. But one of the eye-witnesses, Sheila Reed, was known and we talked about her in the film…how she turned away police and even the Battaglias when they came to her door begging for what she had witnessed and knew. Nearly twenty-five years later an investigative subpoena and the threat of life in prison for perjury pried the truth out of her.

In this case what might the film have done? Well, you’d have to ask the police or prosecutor or Silent Observer for a definitive answer. There were some tips, I know. But more than anything else, I think the film put Joel’s story before a caring law enforcement team and a caring public who agreed that the time would be well spent to investigate this matter to its conclusion. Time is more than money; it’s a huge investment. Another thing that made all this possible has been the downturn in homicides; that allowed detectives Erik Boillat and Pat Needham to devote almost all their time to the case, along with Assistant Prosecutor Kellee Koncki. The results are clearly evident.

Phil Blauw, the guy responsible for any good-looking footage in our films, and I tallied up how many of our stories were associated with solutions of these long unsolved murders: about half…four out of seven. We might try this some more. And we take the cases that speak to us, not based on some analysis of their solvability. But we expect every one of them to be solved…because we know there is nothing hidden that shall not be made known.

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June 27th — Be ready to accept the miraculous: innocence (finally recognized) for Quentin Carter

If you are familiar with this work you know first that I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we began the path that would lead to the creation of the film about the murder of Joel Battaglia, Death of a Phoenix, there was no guarantee that there would be a result. I had been working with the Battaglia’s for nearly five years, getting the story, staying in touch and waiting. Along the way I had been talking with members of law enforcement, not wanting to make a film about a case when there was an active investigation ongoing. Then came the time in 2013 and 2014 when the case was laid down for a time, and after a conversation with law enforcement, I sensed it was the right time and might even be helpful to tell the story in as much detail as we could. So we moved.

The film premiered June 11th, the 24th anniversary of his murder, to a full house at the Wealthy Street Theater. Some bright member of the media–I think it was Peter Ross–put two and two together a few days before and asked then Captain Jeff Hertel if there was a cold case team formed to investigate the murder. Bingo, there was. For about five minutes I was fit to be tied; we were going to make that announcement at the film premier. But, duh, it’s happened how many times? Three? We make a film and the police use it for some traction and awareness; that’s what it’s intended for. So, I had to laugh at myself that I was going to keep that under wraps.

And the rest you probably know…the renewed investigation took about a year and the result was the conviction of Aurelias J. Marshall for Joel’s murder.


in the process police and prosecutor managed to clear another man, Quentin Carter, of a crime he did not commit–but paid for with 17 years of his life. Carter had been convicted for the rape of a 10-year-old girl who lived with her mother and Aurelias J. Marshall at the time of Joel’s murder. It was a crime that police and prosecutors now believe Marshall committed. That’s what the young woman says. She says that she has lived with her guilt every day since for falsely testifying against Carter. Moreover, she says, her crime is beyond forgiveness. Remember, she was 10 and had been beaten by Marshall to tell the untruth.

Here’s her story:

Woman forced to accuse innocent man of rape: ‘It was hell’.

Law enforcement has moved as quickly as possible to clear Mr. Carter. Prosecutor Bill Forsyth walked the papers seeking to clear Mr. Carter’s name to the court and yesterday’s Grand Rapids Press carried the account of that sentence vacation:

Judge overturns rape conviction for man who spent 17 years in prison.

So, it’ sofficial.

I was wondering when we’d hear from Mr. Carter about his experience. Last night WOOD-TV stepped in:

Man wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years breaks silence.

Here’s one miracle: in the course of finding justice for Joel Battaglia, this injustice has been set as right as it’s going to be for now.

Here’s another: Carter says he forgives the woman who was only a child when she was forced to testify against him. The unforgivable has been forgiven.

Oh, we’ll hear more about this; there are likely moves for some kind of reparation, something Michigan doesn’t have in cases of wrongful convictions. (Yes, I think we should.)

But we need to expect miracles when we ask. We asked for the miracle of finding Joel’s killer. We had that request answered, and answered in such a way that the miracle was more than we could have imagined. “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.”

The investigators gave their all to the solution of finding Joel’s killer. And in return this is what was given to them: “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Part of the meting out has been justice for Quentin Carter. It’s a gift not only to Carter–to whom it was due–but a gift to any others who are wrongfully convicted and who await exoneration. It’s a gift, too, to the judicial system. It only works when it works fully. In this case now we know.

I am grateful.

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