Sunday, July 30, 2017

Chapter 19 - 1985

The first supplemental of the year is dated August 23, 1985 and it is a scant two pages of notes which make up Detective Sgt. George Pratt’s summaries on the Janette Roberson case from January through August of 1985.

The first line reads as follows: 

“Investigative leads in this case have been little or nothing for some time.”

Detective Pratt notes that the Roberson case was presented at the 8th Annual International Homicide Seminar held March 17-25, 1985 in Columbus Ohio as an unsolved homicide. 

The next mention is of Officer Finkbeiner having obtained information that a named individual had been in the store on the day of the murder and that it had been confirmed with David Engels, the store manager. Detective Pratt noted he had already interviewed the subject.

On May 13, 1985 Osceola County Sheriff David Needham contacted Detective Pratt and advised that he had seen Alvin Roberson in Reed City on Saturday, May 11, 1985 at Plumb’s Supermarket. 

Needham ran the plate on the vehicle Mr. Roberson was driving. Reed City Police Chief Phillip Rathbun was contacted and requested to check with Janette’s mother to determine if Alvin was “still around.” 

On May 16, 1985, Chief Rathbun re-contacted Detective Pratt to say Mr. Roberson had come to Reed City to pick up his wife, the former Lisa Miracle, on Wednesday, May 8th and they left town on Saturday the 11th—the same day the Sheriff saw him. According to Detective Pratt, Chief Rathbun learned from Marion Fisher that they were living in Georgia, about 40 miles south of Savannah.

On May 29, 1985 a letter that had been received “…during the past ten days from the Investigative Resources Unit regarding [SUBJECT REDACTED] was reviewed. Their inquiry was if he had been looked into on this case, which the answer is NO. [SUBJECT] has an extensive record and was last involved in CSC 3rd Degree in Newaygo County.”

On June 21, 1985: “A meeting was held at the 6th District Headquarters with Dr. Gary Kaufmann of the Behavioral Sciences Section, Det./Lt. Paul Wood and Dt. Sgt. William Bradway of the Investigative Resources Unit; D/Sgts. Barry Beck and William Morris of the Major Case Unit, and [Detective Pratt] regarding the unsolved homicides in the Reed City Post area. This case was discussed with several suggestions for follow-up to be completed in the near future.”

Also on that date—June 21, 1985—two copies of the Roberson report #62-113-83 were left for D/Lt. Robert L. Smith, per his order, so that the case could be reviewed by Detective Morris Vincent of MSP Post #63 (Mount Pleasant) and Detective James Albright of MSP Post #64 (Grand Haven).

Eight days later (the 29th), a meeting was held at the 6th District Headquarters in Grand Rapids by Det./Lt. Robert Smith. Present were Captain Thomas Meehleder, Inspector Kelley Steinbower, Det./Lt. Jon Hulsing, Detectives Albright and Vincent, Detective William Morris, Detective James Ward, and Detective George Pratt.

The investigation of this case was turned over to Detectives Albright and Vincent by Det. /Lt. Robert Smith. Attached to the post copy of this report is the synopsis of this meeting.” 

It appears that the higher-ups decided the Janette Roberson murder investigation might benefit from a couple sets of fresh eyes, which is common when a case has gone cold.

Only two more notations are made on the August 1985 supplemental. One is regarding a subject who’d recently been brought back to Michigan from Nevada to face murder charges in Kent County. Apparently the body had never been located in that case. The subject was noted to have attended high school in Reed City and, according to Pratt, “…several inquiries, including from policemen have been received questioning whether [SUBJECT] could have been involved in any of the unsolved homicides, including the Roberson case.” Detective Pratt then notes that he was advised by the inquiring sheriff’s department handling the extradition that this subject had been picked up in August in 1982 by Nevada authorities and had been in prison since that time.

The last notation by Detective Pratt in August of 1985 is with regard to an insurance carrier for a Workman’s Comp case paying out death benefits to the Roberson children. They simply wanted to know if the murder had been solved, and requested to be notified if an apprehension had been made. be continued...

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