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:

There is inexorable pressure on the murderers of Erik Cross

It’s coming…that’s what we’ve heard. There are almost certainly charges coming against those who killed 16-yeal-old Erik Cross,June 26, 1983. Here’s a report from mlive by Rex Hall, a superb Kalamazoo reporter.

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November 21, 2015 — A Conquerors’ Thanksgiving

It’s been a busy week…a film premier in Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday, and associated activities. The new film: Strong Words: The Art of Toi Derricotte. It is another film about a poet, the third so far. Films about poets and other films serve as an anodyne to films about murder. They are necessary in order to keep contemplating the horror of the intentional deprivation of human life.

Last Saturday I had the great good fortune to be invited to the Conquerors’ annual Thanksgiving meal and observation. It’s been said countless times, nobody ever sets out to be a member of this support group for the families of homicide victims, but thank God the organization is there. Conquerors formed in 2007 after Carolyn Priester lost her son to a shooting. (www.conquerors-sg.org) Of course she was grieving and angry, but instead of sitting on the sidelines, she decided that there needed to be a place for grieving families to get together on a regular basis. Not all of them families wonder who killed their loved ones; many of the crimes are successfully investigated and prosecuted. Carolyn, though, still needs to learn who killed her son, Lee Randolph Priester. Somebody knows, and all it will take is dropping a dime, even anonymously to Silent Observer: 616 774-2345. (www.silentobserver.org)

Well, here’s a visual accounting of the event, the talks that highlighted the much appreciated meal:

As you go about your Thanksgiving this coming week, please take a minute to recall the pain of a holiday with an empty chair at the table, the chair of a murdered loved one. And if you are THE ONE PERSON who knows something about one of those open homicides, please grow some faith, grow some courage to share what you know.

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November 9, 2015 — More interest in the 1972 Kathy Wilcox disappearance

Dateline is now offering more than a broadcast service and it seems a good idea. Here’s the take on the 1972 disappearance of Kathy Wilcox.



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October 22, 2015 — Forty to a hundred years for Malcolm Jeffries

Kent County 17th Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock carefully outlined his reasons for vastly exceeding the guidelines recommendation for a maximum in the felony perjury matter of Malcolm Xavier Jeffries. Jeffries was convicted in a jury trial that ended Sept 3. The jury found that he had lied when he claimed no knowledge of the death of Christopher Joel Battaglia. Battaglia was set upon and beaten to death in the early morning hours of June 11, 1990, when he was walking along Grand Rapids’ Lake Drive. Aurelias J. Marshall was convicted earlier this year of the murder, but witnesses said that he didn’t act alone; Jeffries and Quintin “ManHowell” Howell, Sr., were there, too; Jeffries described as kicking Joel and Howell standing back. Howell has since died.

The state guidelines–no longer mandates–called for incarcation of from 6.5 to 21.66 years. Prosecutor Kellee Koncki had asked the judge for at least 25 years, one each for the years that Joel’s parents, Gail and Jerry, had to live unknowing of who killed their son.

While Jeffries was not on trial for Joel’s murder, Koncki asserted “He is directly involved with the victim’s death. He definitely assaulted the victim.” Trusock agreed with testimony in his sentencing: “Clearly this is not a murder case, but it revolves around a murder case. You clearly were involved and you lied about it and threatened witnesses.”

For his part, Jeffries again put on a show of outrage when he was given a chance to speak, first denying his guilt and then spewing any amount of filth against Koncki and the judge. At last he was removed from the courtroom until he was under better control. The judge had ordered him gagged, but after a few other court matters Jeffries was again led into the room. Koncki had asked–not unreasonably–for some extra protection that came in the form of Grand Rapids Police Detective Pat Needham, one of the two lead investigators on the case (with Erik Boillat), and Sgt. Dave Gillem, a behind-the-scenes technologist and strategist with the Grand Rapids Police Department. The two officers stood between Jeffries and Koncki.

Noting that the state guidelines did not cover the seriousness of all his criminal activity and the ongoing threat that Jeffries represented, Judge Trusock handed down the 40-100 year term. “What a dangerous and deranged individual you are,” the judge had said earlier in the proceedings, also noting that Jeffries had been adjudged competent to stand trial.

For their part Gail and Jerry Battaglia are glad this part of the long journey is finished.

“I just feel so overwhelmed,” said Gail. “But there was deep satisfaction when the judge said 40 years for the minimum. It grieves my heart that this was the last person Joel was in contact with. I don’t think Joel knew that people like this existed.”

Koncki also was satisfied with the sentence. “You don’t see evil a whole lot here. Mostly there are bad choices. But his is a dark heart. When you see that it takes you aback.”

And for Needham, was he satisfied with the sentence? “Boy, I sure am,” he said while walking out of the courthouse and into a sunny afternoon.


An addendum: Jeffries is evil, may be deranged, may be vile, but he is not stupid. In his vituperative outburst against the prosecutor and judge, Jeffries said to Judge Trusock “I hope the Judicial Tenure Commission comes and gets you ’cause  you are a dirty dog.” The Judicial Tenure Commission? Jeffries has more than a rudimentary understanding of the court system. The JTC is that body, an arm of the Michigan Supreme Court, that investigates and recommends discipline by the high court of misbehaving judges and justices. Of course, many felons are better acquainted with our courts than the average citizen.


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September 12, 2015 — Acey Marshall wheels free; an arrest in the Jodi Parrack case

Well, he’s not walking free. But he was released charges of perjury for his testimony in the cases against his brother Aurelias J. Marshall and Malcolm Xavier Jeffries. You can read the Grand Rapids Press story here by Barton Deiters. So, why wasn’t I in the court room? Simple: it got away from me that this was happening.

And here is some especially heartening news: Arrest made in Jodi Parrack case, 8 years after 11-year-old’s death. Thank you journalist Julie Mack of the Kalamazoo Gazette.

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