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 stories of the murders of Shelley Speet Mills and 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:

September 20, 2014 — Matthew and Paul Jones bound over for trial

This week I have been videofiling the entire preliminary hearing  in White Could of Paul and Matt Jones, the brother accused of the murder of Shannon Marie Siders in 1989.

Wednesday and Thursday…two full days of testimony, legal arguments, and drama. You can read the excellent reportage of John Hausman of the Muskegon Chronicle (mlive) here. There are several related stories to pick and choose from, chronicling the several days. John was filing at least two stories a day. And then yesterday, Friday, Judge Bradley G. Lambrix handed down several legal opinions concerning admissibility of evidence, paused, and launched into his decision binding over the brothers for trial on first degree murder changes. They are scheduled for circuit court arraignment at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 30th, before Chief Judge Anthony A. Monton.

While I have every minute of what transpired during court sessions (and plenty outside of that), I choose to share the judge’s decision, the request for bail from each of the brothers’ attorneys, and his denial of same. As well, there is a correction that Judge Lambrix makes in his language. He mischaracterized the nature of the proceedings and he took pains to set the record straight. Lambrix usually works as a family court judge in Oceana County. (Oceana and Newaygo counties share their district and circuit court judges. Newaygo County’s district court judge, The Honorable Kevin H. Drake, had to recuse himself; he was Newaygo County’s prosecuting attorney at the time of the murder of Shannon Marie Siders and through the subsequent several years of the investigation.) Lambrix was very careful in his judging, allowing a reasonable latitude for  defense attorneys in their lines of questioning that might have fallen outside strict boundaries; if there were any doubt he wanted the benefit to go to the accused. Nor was he hesitant to take time to look up black-letter and case law for application to matters before him.

Bind over for trial from David Schock on Vimeo.

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September 16, 2014 — Tomorrow begins the preliminary hearing In White Cloud

Tomorrow morning the Jones brothers–Matt (Skip) and Paul–are scheduled to appear in 78th District Court in White Cloud, Newaygo County, to hear some of the state’s case against them.

For those who don’t know one court from another, in major cases people are arraigned in district court shortly after they are arrested. That’s where they hear the charges against them for the first time. Then subsequently there is a preliminary hearing. Usually it’s not long after the arrest and arraignment…14 days unless there are other factors. (That’s the keep the state on track so justice can move along.) The Jones brothers were arrested in late June and this is certainly beyond 14 days, but the case file is so voluminous that the defense attorneys needed time, time, time, and asked for an extension.

No one objected because it is in the defendants’ best interests; it’s a more level playing field.

So, the preliminary hearing is scheduled for the next three days. We’ll see how many of them it takes. At the conclusion the judge (I believe it is to be The Honorable Bradley G. Lambrix from neighboring Oceana County) will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to be bound over to circuit court…the court where major cases are tried (either jury or bench trials). If that’s so there will be another wait while both sides prepare for the legal battle. Or, at any time in the process those charged can plead either guilty or nolo contendere–no contest. (Nolo means that a person will accept the punishment as if guilty but will not admit to the charge.) I expect this case will go to trial with a jury.

It might be difficult to find a jury pool that is unaffected by pretrial publicity–including that afforded by the film. You should have independent jurors who are unswayed by anything they may know about the case and will make decisions based solely on the evidence that is presented in court, always with the mandate that the accused are to be held blameless unless and until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s a complicated system of justice. It’s not fast. It depends on good police work, good defense work, able prosecution, and witnesses who will answer truthfully under oath.

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August 14, 2014 — The 2009 murder of William Parnell solved

Another one solved…this time Kent Metro Cold case team. On Sept. 9, 2009 William Parnell was found dead in his basement, hands and feet bound. The coroner determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma. On Monday police arrested Teivariol Davonte-Darnell Moore, 26, of Saginaw. He confessed to the murder. He was scheduled for arraignment yesterday. Behind the arrest was a DNA comparison. You can read John Tunison’s story in the Grand Rapids Press here.

As well, the confessed killer of Robert Anthony Farmer, who was killed outside Miss Tracy’s Liquor Store in October of 2004, has been sentenced. Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth sentenced Walter Antraell Wilsonto 25 to 50 years in prison. You can read the story of this nearly 10-year old crime by Barton Deiters here in the Grand Rapids Press. This case was solved by the Grand Rapids Police Department.

More justice. Thank you, thank you.

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July 28, 2014 — GRPD solves ten-year-old murder of Robert Anthony Farmer

Almost every week, it seems, cold cases are being cleared. We are no longer quite so amazed when it happens.

But we should be.

Let nothing take anything away from the victories these investigations represent.

In this case Grand Rapids Police Detective Pat Needham and Erik Boillat were able to secure a confession in the shooting murder of 26-year-old Robert Anthony Farmer outside Miss Tracy’s Liquor Store near Neland Avenue SE and Franklin Street. Farmer was murdered in an attempted robbery, Oct. 15, 2004. The Grand Rapids Press carried this account by reporter Barton Dieters. The followup questions and responses are particularly important for shedding even more light on how the detective and Kellee Koncki, the assistant prosecutor, went about this with the murderer, Walter Antraell Wilson.

There is something most heartening about this: Boillat, Needham, and Koncki are those entrusted with the most recent investigation of Joel Battaglia’s 1990 murder. If it can be done, they will do it.

I have faith it can and will be done.

CONQUERERS GATHER THIS EVENING

The Conquerors Support Group will gather this even for their annual picnic at the MacKay-Jaycees Park on Kalamazoo Avenue SE, close to the intersection with 28th Street. If you have a chance, stop by, pick up a hot dog, meet Carolyn Priester and others with the organization. There likely will be some officers on hand, some prosecutors, and lots of families who have dealt with loss. Don’t  stay away because you think it’s going to be too sad; it’s not. These are people who have lost their nearest and dearest to crime and they are doing as they are doing…which usually means there are some tears and many smiles. We want to remember those who have been taken from us, and it helps when there are people who will take the time to come and give witness to that.

 

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July 18, 2014 — A gentle remembrance of Kathy Sue Wilcox

The gathering last evening in Otsego was–as all things are–a spiritual event. I’d guess there were at least 60 people there, plenty of snacks…and plenty of time to talk. Very few people were in a hurry to dash off. There were many of Kathy Sue’s family there, high school friends and acquaintances, concerned citizens, and members of law enforcement. Lourin Sprenger and a videographer from WWMT, Channel Three, covered the event and you can watch her report here. Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Stephen Brooks covered the event for mlive and here is his report.

It was very good to sit down and talk with Detective Bruce Beckman, the Otsego officer in charge of the investigation. He has worked for years on this case. When he came to the area, he said, he didn’t know that the city had a missing person case. He found out four years into his lengthy career there (37 years total in law enforcement) and has kept Kathy Sue on his radar since. But there just hasn’t been much to go on. Last night we invited people to talk with him about Kathy Sue with the understanding that it might be a little thing that could advance the investigation. Det. Beckman was busy all evening long listening and jotting down notes.

Kathy Sue’s sister Karen Ortegel acknowledged Det. Beckman’s efforts and thanked him before the group. She also thanked the event organizer and creator of the Facebook page about Kathy Sue, Shannon Anderson Froeber. And she thanked me for helping, something I was glad to do. We joined so many caring people last night, people who desperately miss the person they remember as an independent, smart, determined, and fun 15-year-old.

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