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:

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.

BUT

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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June 16, 2015 — The story of Kathy Wilcox’s disappearance in the Freep

Oh, yes. Writer John Carlisle of the Freep chronicled the Kathy Wilcox disappearance story on the front page of yesterday’s edition. Here is the story. I am grateful for his curiosity, his ability to tell the story, and his paper’s drive to let the world know. It may be just such an effort that brings forward new information.

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June 15, 2015 — A delay in sentencing for the Jones Brothers until July 21

Paul and Matt Jones were to have been sentenced June 16–tomorrow–but it’s not happening then. The date and time have been changed to July 21 at 2:30 p.m.

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June 9, 2015 — Where have I been?

Back surgery–fusion–hospital, nursing home, now home. Long recovery ahead.

That did not mean I wasn’t keeping track cases; I was, but there was little for me to write about…and besides, it hurts to type.

I thank God for the verdict in the Joel Battaglia murder case. There is much to be said and I’ll get to some of it. Thank you to al involved in the investigation and prosecution…from 1990 until today.

Amen

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May 8, 2015 — The verdicts are in

In the White Cloud trials of Paul and Matt Jones for the 1989 murder of Shannon Marie Siders the juries have spoken: Matt is guilty of first degree murder; Paul of second.

All credit is due to first-rate investigative and prosecutorial teams. …And to the two juries for their ability to judge impartially.

Likely I will have more to say in the coming days. Some have wondered why I wasn’t writing. Simply this: I made it to the first day of the trial and then was pretty well leveled with a back injury. I felt I needed to stop driving for now, and there was no way to get there.

At first I felt such a failure. I had thought that I needed to “finish” what I thought I started with the film. And then I began thinking and realizing…I didn’t start anything, really. This case had been ongoing for all those years…22 before the film came along. All I did was…well, I don’t know what I did; that’s for somebody else to determine. But, I had not been there from the start and was a late comer.

Second, my work was done as soon as the film came out. I didn’t need to do anything else. I didn’t have to be there at the trial to follow it—as much as I would have liked to have been. My presence would not change the outcome one whit. I could pray as effectively from here as there. This was an opportunity for me to grow, as old as I am.

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