From David — A weblog (with full archive)

May 18, 2017 — The transcript is ready to go…and a new case, or cases

The first step in ANY closed captioning is to have an accurate transcript of everything that’s heard in the film. I have had the great good fortune to work with Tanja Kelly during these last few years. She runs Kelly Reporting Services here in Grand Haven. Tanja is a retired court reporter. …Just as a for instance, she did pretty much the entire trial in the Janet Chandler murder case in 2007. That’s where and when I met her. And she is an excellent transcriptionist and has just finished Heritage Hill Bride. Aas usual, the file is exactly accurate. This work cannot be easy; she says that when she listens to the disturbing details of cases she just has to insulate herself. When we talked about it she acted out pulling a cowl around herself–down over her head, throat, and chest–for protection.

That’s something investigators, prosecutors, all the support personnel face: the brutality of crime. And they face it day in and day out. I am grateful that she continues to serve during her retirement from the courts.

As well, yesterday I sat down with Mary Hillman, the mother of three sons who died violent deaths (and a six-year0old daughter who died by fire after getting too close to a stove burner). Our main topic was the 1994 shooting death of her son Tony, still unsolved. Another son, Timothy, was shot by a friend in a case of mistaken identity in 1989, and a third son, Jeffrey, was drowned in Lake Michigan near the south breakwater at Muskegon in 1978. Mary described looking at his body. She said it was evident that he had been bound hand and foot. She said while there was a successful wrongful death suit in that case, the people who killed Jeffrey still walk free. I reminded her that there is no statute of limitations on murder. I am sure there is far more about these deaths than I yet know, and I have hopes that someone out there might be able to steer me to it. All three f her son’s death occurred during the month of August.

For now, here are some reminders.

Grand Rapids Press, August 7, 1994

Grand Rapids Press, August 18, 1978



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April 30, 2017 — Thanks to you we made the goal

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition. Thanks to the 23 donors, it’s ALL a go! We have exceeded our $2000 goal by $15. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen, amen, amen.

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April 30, 2017 – Almost there…93 percent raised to close caption the film

I believe and trust that the remaining funding, some $135, will find its way to complete our Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,000 to close caption Heritage Hill Bride: The Murder of Shelley Speet Mills. Only with closed captions will it be able to be shown on our local PBS station, WGVU-TV; that’s the law and it’s the right thing to do for those who have a hearing impairment. It’s my hope, too, that some other stations around the state will pick it up, but that’s up to them individually.

So, my thanks go out to those of you who contributed at this Kickstarter address. My thanks also go to those who even thought about it and sent up a prayer. It all counts.

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April 19, 2017 — Need to closed caption Heritage Hill Bride

WGVU-TV, Public Broadcasting for this west side of the state, has accepted Heritage Hill Bride: The Murder of Shelley Speet Mills for carriage. But in order to run on the station, the film must be closed captioned. That’s going to cost about $2K that I just don’t have now. So, with many misgivings I have started a Kickstarter fund-raising account. It is here. If you want to help make this happen I will be very grateful.

As well, we have made efforts to get this film into the Michigan Prison system and not had much luck. And, no, the prisons would not have to buy the films; I will provide them if they will show the piece. I can think of no better place to find people who may know about this 46-year-old homicide. If you have ideas please let me know. Prayers are always welcome.

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March 14, 2017 — Laurie Ann Swank was paroled last fall

I read with interest a story by John Agar of mlive chronicling the drug dealing and prison sentence of Michael Paiva, the son of Arthur Carlton “Carl” Paiva, the ringleader in the murderous crew who left Janet Chandler dead in a snowbank, Jan. 31, 1979. Paiva senior died several years ago in prison. He was there for life after a 2007 trial that saw five others also sentenced for the crime. Four–including Paiva–for life. The other two for lesser terms.


It was sad to see that story and it served as a reminder that there are many victims when a murder is committed. I wrote to John noting one mistake in his story. He reported that all six who went to prison were Wackenhut guards in town at the time to protect a “struck” plant. Wasn’t so, I reminded him. There was Janet’s roommate, purported best friend (at the time) and supervisor at the Blue Mill Inn–Laurie Ann Swank. He agreed that he knew that. It’s a small mistake. I make some along the way, too.

Then I went to check the Offender Traking and Information System, OTIS, and discovered that Laurie Ann had been paroled Sept. 20, 2016. And she was paroled to her home state of Pennsylvania.

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February 10, 2017 — The court’s rationale in denying the Jones brothers’ appeals

And here are the words that accompany the denial of appeals for Matthew Jones and Paul Jones for the 1989 murder of Shannon Marie Siders in Newaygo County. The brothers have the right to appeal those decisions to the Michigan Supreme Court. The high court is likely to deny certiorari (a hearing), at least that’s been its usual method of dealing with these cases.

We were in court in early December for the appeals hearing, which you can see here in its entirety.

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February 9, 2017 — Jones brothers appeal come to naught

We’ve learned that the appeals by Matt and Paul Jones of their guilty verdicts for the 1989 murder of Shanon Marie Siders have been denied.

More later.


February 4, 2017 — A new report of the Melissa Simmons case. Jeffrey Willis?

Interesting that a Battle Creek television station would dig into a Scottville murder, and link it to alleged killer Jeffrey Willis. But it is what it is: Murder Mystery by Cody Combs.



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February 1, 2017 — Updates in the Deborah Polinsky murder investigation

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department had released the full update in the investigation into the 1977 murder of Deborah Lynn Polinsky. We are running it here and we’ve update the We Remember file on the case.


Media Release

Deb Polinsky Cold Case Homicide Investigation

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office #77-00010018


Date of Incident: Last seen 07/23/1977 at 9:00 p.m. Body Found 07/26/1977

Location: 15123 New Holland St. Holland, MI 49424- Port Sheldon Township

Victim: Deborah Lynn Polinsky, also known as “Deb”

White female D.O.B. 02/16/1957 (20 years old at time of death)

Summary: Ms. Polinsky was found in her two-story, rented farmhouse located on New Holland Street near 152nd Avenue. Her body was discovered by a co-worker after Deb failed to show up for work on Monday, 07/25/1977. Deb worked second shift at Depree Chemical Company. Ms. Polinsky was stabbed to death. There is no known motive for her death.

Ms. Polinsky was known to frequent the Holland and Saugatuck areas and had attended Holland Public Schools. She was often seen in her red, VW Beetle and in the company of her German shepherd, “Thor”.

Update: The Ottawa County Cold Case Team has been actively investigating the Polinsky homicide for the past eighteen months. The team has interviewed over 180 person since taking on the case. With that detectives have sent 40 DNA samples to the lab for comparison and over 600 latent prints have been analyzed.   Advances in technology have allowed investigators to gain valuable insight into this crime. As a result of some of those advances the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying a female that they believe was at the scene at the time of the incident.

Contact: Anonymous tips to 1-877-88 Silent (745368) or or contact: (616) 738-4022

Authority: Captain Mark Bennett

Deborah Lynn Polinsky at age 20







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January 13, 2017 — Deb Polinsky case update

Two young detectives–Jake Sparks and Jeremy Baum–have taken up the work of the Cold Case Team in the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. I had the pleasure to meet both of them last month when I went to speak with retiring Sheriff Gary Rosema about his career and memorable cases, especially those still open. Sheriff Rosema indicated that the department was getting closer to solutions of the 1970 Deborah Polinsky murder.

I called Detective Baum a little later and asked for an update on that case in particular and he responded with this e-mail:

Jake and I have interviewed approximately 170 people in 14 months. We have cleared 20+ people through DNA comparisons. There are several theories in this case which include; drug deal gone bad, family member, serial killer, motorcycle gang, jealous love, etc.… We definitely have not narrowed it down yet. We continue to try to clear people and get the clear motive which we believe will greatly reduce the time to solve the case. We do have DNA evidence in this case but are not releasing what it is at this time.

He said that the they were preparing an update to let people in the community know what was happening. We can look for that in the next few weeks.

Of course, if anybody has information about the case here are names, numbers, addresses: Detective Jake Sparks/; or Detective Jeremy Baum/

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