Monday, June 27, 2016


Reed City Michigan State Police Post

UPDATE:  If you're naturally curious like me, you may have noticed more activity than usual at the old State Police Post in Reed City, which was closed to walk-in business in 2011. That's because, as I learned recently, a cold case team quietly convened months ago and has been working behind the scenes on the unsolved homicide cases in our area. 

Reed City, we are in good hands.

Some of the same investigators who worked exhaustively to put a case together for the prosecutor in the Shannon Siders case are now looking at our longest unsolved cases, including that of Esther Gaffney, Janette Roberson, and Sue Clason

Old interviews are being combed over, new interviews are being done, and evidence that has been held for decades in some cases, is being resubmitted for analysis with technology that has thankfully travelled light years since the days when DNA testing was not regularly performed. 

If you're curious about human nature and why bad guys do the things they do, you've likely watched Dateline, or 20/20, or any number of true crime shows, and you understand that more often than not, this is how cold cases get solved. The tiniest speck of evidence that long ago would have gone unseen can now be subjected to testing which can provide volumes of information. 

As the old adage says, "Evidence doesn't lie, people do."

The team of cold case investigators is armed with years of experience and determined to bring resolution to each of these cases, but the best part about it is... they sound optimistic. If the successful conviction of Matthew and Paul Jones is any indication, there may well be some bad guys out there with serious cause for concern. 

“Many cold cases are solved because the passage of time allows reluctant and fearful witnesses the courage to come forward,” said Detective First Lieutenant Mike Anderson, Michigan State Police 6th District Special Investigation Section. “The investigative team would like to thank the Newaygo County community for telling the truth to bring justice for Shannon.”   ~Grand Rapids Legal News, May, 2015

I wrote in Redacted: A Search for Truth About the Murder of Janette Roberson  that if Janette's case were to be solved, it would be the people of this community who make that happen, and I still believe this to be true.

These crimes are old, most of them decades. Many of the people associated with Janette's case are much older now; some have passed away. If there is one thing I know for certain it's that you never want to take something to the grave that you should've left here, so if you know something, please say something. 

Police would rather get hundreds of tips that lead nowhere than miss a piece of the puzzle that never came in because you thought it was probably nothing.

It's never nothing, I promise you that. 

While I'm not an overly religious person, I know many in our community are, so I will also mention that prayers and positive vibes for the team working these cases won't be turned away, either.

Today's press release involves the unsolved homicide of Esther Gaffney:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                6/27/16

ROCKFORD:  A task force of investigators from the Michigan State Police, in conjunction with Osceola County Prosecutor Tyler Thompson, is focusing on the 2004 homicide of Tustin resident Esther Gaffney.

Eighty year old Esther Gaffney lived alone at her residence on Tustin Rd., north of the Village of Tustin.  On July 12th, 2004, Esther was found deceased inside her home. An autopsy concluded that the manner of Esther’s death was homicide. 

For the past 12 years, detectives have continued to investigate the case following up on numerous tips.  Task force members are confident that advances in forensic science and information technology will generate new leads and aid investigators in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.

Cold cases are often solved because the passage of time allows witnesses and persons with information to come forward.  Investigators feel that there are persons with information that will be pertinent to this case.  Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding the homicide of Esther Gaffney to contact the cold case tip line of the Michigan State Police Mt. Pleasant Post at (989) 775-9302. 

D/F/Lt. Michael Anderson, Michigan State Police, 6th District Headquarters, (616)-866-6684
Lt. Gary Green, Michigan State Police, Mt. Pleasant Post, (989) 773-5951
D/Sgt. John Forner, Michigan State Police, 6th District Headquarters, (989) 775-9302         


Anonymous said...

I hope they also look into the Burton Scott murder

Jeni Decker said...

I believe that case file is among the ones that a task force will be looking at and I do know Michigan State Police has been in recent contact with family of Burton Scott.

How it works, basically, is that they allocate resources for the cold case teams based on putting the cases in order as far as solvability. Obviously with budgetary constraints, they cannot all be actively worked on at once, though they do send in items for re-testing in order to get new information that might generate possible new leads to investigate.

Also, when new leads come in from the public, they are actively looked into, so when that happens, it can affect how much effort is being put into any certain case. Lots of calls with new information can help move a case along. These cases do take time to reinvestigate, but it is literally in the hands of the public as to whether a cold case moves higher up in the pile because the more solvable it looks, the better chances of it being moved higher up on the list.

This is why I strongly encourage anyone who has information on any of the unsolved cases covered on this site to contact the investigators linked to each.