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:

February 16, 2018 — Not good, but not nearly as bad as it might have been

By accident I managed to catch the episode of Betrayed last night on Investigation Discovery. The show chronicled the 1979 murder of Janet Chandler via a highly speculative first-person point of view. We were supposedly hearing Janet’s postmortem thoughts about what was going on and how long she had yet to live or her descriptions of how she died.

The show was not good, but not as bad as it might have been. It could have been as ugly at the case itself; the producers toned down a lot of what actually happened.

We were approached last year about taking part in this, as were all the primary investigating officers, the prosecutors (Assistant Attorney General and Ottawa County), the family. Janet’s family wanted nothing more to do with this and certainly didn’t want her death to wind up as entertainment. All the rest of us respected that and we declined. So, the producers went searching far and wide and scooped up mostly peripheral players. A “friend.” A “teacher” (certainly not from Hope College). Lt. John Slenk (retired), who had served as the commander for the Michigan State Police had the lion’s share of time and was most knowledgeable. And we heard from Bob DeVries, who had been the public information officer in 2003 when he and I first talked about the case. At the time he was preparing to leave the Holland Police Department to take over as chief in Kingman, Arizona. I had been meeting with him and some of my broadcast journalism students to talk about the complicated  relationship between police officers and reporters. When he said he was leaving after 30 years, I asked him if there was one that got away. Janet Chandler. “That’s the case that keeps us all awake at night.” I had the impression that he was passing it over (he was long gone by the time the cold-case team got to work in 2004). The result was the result: the film, the cold-case investigation, the arrests, pleas and prosecutions. Finally, the producers tossed in Rich Harrold, a former managing editor and reporter with the Holland Sentinel. Rich was certainly not around when Janet was abducted and murdered. He came to Holland in the early ’90s from Mt Pleasant. (He and I both had the honor of editing the Morning Sun there in different decades.) And he left shortly after the trial concluded. I viewed his participation in the Betrayed show with coolness.

There were many things factually correct about the show. After all, John Slenk had his recollection and probably some records. And there was the film we made, the Dateline piece produced by Jack Cloherty after the trial, all the news coverage, and the material on this website. But there were lots of mistakes, little ones, that cropped up when the storytellers were trying to put together a cogent narrative. They were jarring and discordant. For one, you can bet the police talked with Carl Paiva long before he left town (per the show).

So, now it’s entertainment. I’m sure the producers would assert that it’s a production with the purpose: the dangers young women face and the relentless pursuit of justice by law enforcement. Both of those things were true in this case. And in keeping with the premise of the show, Janet Chandler was absolutely betrayed by people she trusted. But never lose sight of the fact that the true purpose of the show is to keep eyes on the screen so that somebody makes money.
Read Comments/Respond to this Post »

February 3, 2018–Reconsideration for Richard Phillips?

This from The Grand Rapids Press:


Wayne County prosecutors taking 2nd look at 1971 murder

A murder case from 1971 is getting another look by Detroit-area prosecutors before a man is put through a second trial after spending 45 years in prison.

Records show the Conviction Integrity Unit at theWayne County prosecutor’s office is examining thecase of Richard Phillips, now 71. His conviction

was thrown out in August, and he was released on bond in December.

Phillips has long declared his innocence in the 1971 fatal shooting of Gregory Harris. The Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan law school learned that a co-defendant told the state parole board that Phillips had no role.

That testimony convinced a judge to set aside Phillips’ conviction.

Read Comments/Respond to this Post »

February 2, 2018 — A facebook page for Deb Polinsky

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, making use of the tools at hand, has posted a facebook page in the Deb Polinsky case:


The hope is that the one person who know something can tell them what they need to know. At this point they are looking for one person: Bev Schippers. If you know of her, her whereabouts, either use the page to private message the team or call Det. Jeremy Baum: (616) 738-4018.

And Here’s an interesting podcast about the murder: https://soundcloud.com/podcastdetroit/already-gone-episode-81-deborah-polinsky?in=podcastdetroit%2Fsets%2Falready-gone&utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=facebook

The audio documentary is the work of Nina Innsted of Detroit who has done this work: http://www.alreadygonepodcast.com/author/admin/.




Read Comments/Respond to this Post »

November 24, 2017 — Are there serial killers out there?

Well, yes, and maybe more than we know. Thomas K. Hargrove, founder and chairman of the Murder Accountability Project, is the subject of a fascinating story in last week’s New Yorker Magazine. The story, by Alec Wilkinson, makes the case that by using vast amounts of data, carefully gathered and skillfully analyzed, that Hargrove and his associates can make the case for identifying areas where serial killers have been at work–some for decades. Hargrove has said there may be many more than we realized. Further, the data from MAP often can find links among crimes and clusters of crimes.

MAP also keeps updated statistics on murders. The 2016 numbers are here. So, murders are up and the percentage of solved complaints is at an all-time low. Worst major city in the nation? Detroit at 14 percent. Wow! Of course, the site notes, Chicago does NOT report, even though it had the highest number of murders: 765. That’s more than two a day.

While Detroit led the way in terms of the nation’s lack of clearances, the whole of Michigan didn’t fare all that well: 597 homicides, of which only 188 were cleared. That’s a 31.49 percent rate. So if you commit murder in Michigan you have more than a two-thirds chance of getting away with it. Nationwide, the clearance is 55.54 percent.

I’m thinking we could do better. How? It’s simple: people have to speak up and tell what they know. And then police need to listen and act. Certainly there are cases of departments not wanting to hear from some number cruncher…The New Yorker article talks of at least one specific agency–Lake County, Indiana–where Hargroves’ identification of serial killer activity went unwelcomed and unheeded. But the officers I know very definitely WANT to hear and are ready and willing to act on it. But it takes somebody who will not buy into the “Snitches get Stiches” mentality. Courage? Yeah. And I believe people have more of it than they may know.


Read Comments/Respond to this Post »

October 10 — A new outreach for Matilda

Ottawa County Detective Steve McCarthy, CFEI, CFI, has sent out a new flyer to remind area law enforcement, news media, and the general public about the unidentified victim known as “Matilda.”



Read Comments/Respond to this Post »
See More Posts »