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:

April 13, 2015 — Picking the jury in the Siders’ case

Much has transpired and I am dilatory in posting.

First, the accused murderers of Shannon Marie Siders–brothers Paul and Matt Jones–are scheduled for trial next Monday, April 20. Before that, this Wednesday, Thursday, and possibly Friday, the goal is to seat a jury. Each day 150 people will be offered up, and it’s up to the prosecutors and the defense to make their best selections. One day is set for each defendant, with Friday for any left over matters. The defense had asked for a change of venue last month. It was denied, pending being able to seat a jury.

I have determined that I cannot video the trial. I just cannot do it. So I’m trying to deal with letting that limitation sink in.

And, at the same time, the accused murderer of Joel Battaglia, Aurelias J. Marshall, was to have faced trial on perjury charges. That has been postponed until after his murder trial (that begins June 1).

There is a whole lot that’s going to be happening very quickly here. Let us pray for justice.

 

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April 2, 2015 — Speaking to the Rockford Area Historical Society this evening

This evening, beginning at 7 p.m., I’ll have the opportunity to appear before members of the Rockford Area Historical Society. The topic? Murder as History. I hope it goes well and is of value to people who attend.

A few weeks ago I had the great good pleasure to appear as a panelist with Blaine Pardoe and Mardi Jo Link, both fine authors of true crime, at a meeting of the Historical Society of Michigan. Although the genre has a lurid past (and often present, too), Link and Pardoe are true scholars of the crime and the time. Both elements come through.

Link is the author of the award-winning memoir, Bootstrapper, as well as three true crime books about historic and unsolved murders, including When Evil Came to Good Hart, and Isadore’s Secret. Her most recent, Wicked Takes the Witness Stand, is a New York Times Crime & Punishment bestseller.  She is a two-time recipient of the Michigan Notable Book Award, winner of the Great Lakes Bookseller’s Choice Award, as well as Creative-Nonfiction’s “Anger & Revenge” essay prize. She lives in Traverse City. her forthcoming book is The Drummond Girls.

Blaine Pardoe’s most recent true crime book, The Murder of Maggie Hume (co-written with his daughter) was a New York Times Crime & Punishment bestseller. His other true crime books in print also include Secret WitnessMurder in Battle Creek, and Sawney Bean. He is a winner of the Historical Society of Michigan’s State History Award; has been awarded twice by the Military Writers Society of America; and was awarded the Harriet Quimby Award from the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame for his contributions to aviation history. He has been a guest speaker at the U.S. National Archives, the Smithsonian, and at the U.S. Naval Academy. He lives in Virginia.

We had a blast.

 

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March 4, 2015 — The 77th anniversary of the murder of Mina Dekker

Seventy-seven years ago 19-year-old Mina Dekker was beaten to death. You can look to the right to follow the case. Her Brother Adrian was 14 at the time. He still wants to know who killed his sister.

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February 24, 2015 — AJ Marshall murder trial set for June 1; but first comes a perjury trial April 20

Accursed murderer Arelias Marshall is set to stand trial for the 1990 murder of Christopher Joel Battaglia.You can read about the murder trial date here in Barton Deiter’s account. The trial date, set yesterday for June 1, will be preceded by his trial for perjury in the offense. That date is set for April 20.

There is the possibility that if he’s convicted of the perjury charge–a life offense in Michigan in a case like this–Marshall might plead to the murder–if he indeed is guilty. His demeanor at his preliminary hearing argued against cooperation; he postured, looked heavenward, smirked at his brother and others testifying against him. But the future is unknowable.

And by coincidence, the trial of the Jones brothers (Matthew and Paul) for the murder of Shannon Marie Siders is also set to begin April 20. My intention was to be at all the events; I don’t know what I will do.

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February 21, 2015 — Judge rules against admission of other “bad acts” in Siders trial

27th Circuit Court Chief Judge Anthony A. Monton ruled against the prosecution’s request for admission of other acts allegedly committed by accused murderers Matthew (Skip) and Paul Jones. They are charged in the 1989 murder of Shannon Marie Siders. The prosecution asked the court to allow testimony of others who have suffered at the hands of the Jones brothers. According to Judge Monton’s ruling, that would have come in under provision 404(b) “to introduce into evidence other crimes of acts of misconduct by the Jones brothers which occurred both before and after the murder of Siders.”

The judge offered his legal reasoning, taking up most of a single-spaced page. I’d be happy to share it with you, but he recaps all his logic with this:

Simply put, the proffered acts of misconduct and the charged offense of premeditated murder and not sufficiently similar to support an inference they that are a manifestation of a common plan, scheme or system. The circumstances surrounding these acts are too attenuated to conclude that they fit within the scope of an allowable purpose under MRE 404(b) to admit this evidence.

At best, any relevance between the other acts of misconduct and a proper purpose under MRS 404(b) is marginal, but the potential for unfair prejudice is great. The introduction of this evidence creates significant risk that jury may convict the defendant on an improper basis, i.e., bad character, instead of evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant[s] committed first degree murder.

The prosecution could appeal that decision. I don’t know yet whether it has done so.

The next scheduled hearing will be the final pretrial on April 6, 2015 at 2 p.m. The trial is scheduled to begin April 20.

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