10. The 1990's

Serial Rapist Strikes Ann Arbor

While Ann Arbor has seen many incidents of serial types of crime, the serial rapist that struck the city in 1992 left a fear and bitterness that still exists. Fear struck the women of Ann Arbor and bitterness struck the black community, many of whom felt they were unjustly targeted as suspects. This case also was the first to use DNA testing on such a large scale in the City of Ann Arbor and this would lead to accusations that the department unfairly targeted black males in order to obtain blood samples.

This case was unusual in that the detectives had a very limited suspect description to work with. The suspect later arrested and convicted, Ervin Mitchell, snuck up on his victims and beat them severely. These women were unable to obtain any detailed description other than the suspect was a black male, approximately 5'7” tall with a muscular build. Needless to say there were many black males in the city who fit this general description.

The first rape occurred during the morning of September 28, 1992. The victim was walking in Eberwhite Woods, which is a heavily secluded wooded park on the cities westside. The victim was often a visitor of the park as she lived a short distance away.

When she did not return from her morning walk, her family became concerned and a search was eventually undertaken. The victim was found a short time later, unconscious, partially clothed and severely beaten. She had lost a large amount of blood and was close to death.

Detectives were immediately called into the area to search for evidence and interview possible witnesses. What they found was virtually no physical evidence other than a sample of semen from the suspect. The semen recovered from the scenes of the rapes and the murder of a later victim was, in reality, the only evidence recovered from the crimes.

In this first rape, no witnesses were found and the victim, who eventually recovered from the attack, could provide no description other than a very general one.

While this rape was particularly brutal and received extensive press coverage, it eventually faded from public memory. No other rapes occurred in the city that fit this incident and it initially appeared that this was an isolated incident and the suspect was possibly a drifter who had left town.

The second rape occurred on October 1, 1993, and initially received little press coverage. In this incident the victim was walking alone in a wooded area off of Longshore drive. The victim was attacked and beaten from behind, never observing her attacker. During the assault she was beaten into unconsciousness.

While this attack seemed similar to the first, over a year had passed between the two. While stranger rape is uncommon in Ann Arbor, it occurs at a frequency which would not necessarily lead the detectives to believe the two were related. Even if they were, there was little they had to work with until DNA tests confirmed that the suspect was the same.

The next rape occurred on November 2, 1993, and this was different from the first two. In this case the victim was entering her residence in the 800 block of Miller when the suspect walked in behind her, took hold of her head, smashing it into the wall. The victim was raped and the suspect escaped with no witnesses and little in the way of a description.

The most brutal and shocking incident occurred on May 7, 1994, when Christine Gailbreath was raped and murdered as she walked back to her apartment from a local drugstore. Gailbreath lived on Pauline, a short distance from the drugstore and often walked there to shop. Gailbreath had left food cooking on the stove and went to return pop cans at the store. She had left her home at 1:00 p.m. and when she did not return by 3:30 p.m., her husband phoned the police to report her missing.

When the officers arrived they searched the area and store for Gailbreath, but could not locate her. Later that night, Officer Mike Anderson went to Gailbreath's residence and asked her husband what route she may have taken to the store. They decided to search an area that Gailbreath may have used as a short cut, which was a wooded path that she usually did not take. It was later believed that she had taken this shortcut as it was raining out.

As they were halfway into their search, they observed Gailbreath's backpack and open umbrella. Gailbreath's husband was sent back to the patrol vehicle as officers continued the search. A short distance away, Gailbreath's body was found in the field behind the Post Office on W. Stadium. Gailbreath had been raped and strangled to death.

Up to this point little information was released to the public that the rapes were related. One of the investigator's, Sgt. Tom Caldwell stated, “We knew we were dealing with a serial rapist. Now, we're strongly investigating the possibility that this homicide is connected to those rapes.”

The result of the department pronouncing that the previous three rapes were committed by the same suspect was fast and furious. The department was severely criticized for not releasing this information to the community as many felt that women could have taken precautions, if they had known a serial rapist was in their community.

Sgt. Caldwell stated one of the reasons no information was released was because the investigators thought the rapist had left town. Over six months had gone between the murder of Gailbreath and the last rape (November 2, 1993).

Captain Richard Degrand stated, “That was an administrative decision (not to release the information). We were waiting for lab results. We were going to release the information either when we got those results or another incident occurred.”

On May 11, 1994, the police department held a community meeting to discuss the cases and in the hope that possible witnesses would step forward. Chief Douglas Smith addressed the crowd which packed the Dicken School auditorium and informed them that the department had evidence which linked one man to the three prior rapes and believed him to be the suspect in the murder of Christine Gailbreath. In nearly all the cases the suspect delivered a blow to the back of the victim's head, incapacitating them.

Chief Smith stated, “We're concerned this individual is still in town. We're more concerned about catching him. We're sending a message to women to be careful. We have an ongoing problem and we need their help to solve it.”

Many in the crowd felt strongly that the police department mishandled the situation by not releasing a statement to the public initially, indicating that a serial rapist was in the city. Chief Smith told the crowd that detectives had two suspects and did not want to release the information, fearing the suspects would flee the area. He also believed releasing the information to the public would not have saved Gailbreath's life, as the suspect attacked her in broad daylight, in an open field. He added, “Hindsight is always 20-20. But we can't accept responsibility for the homicide.”

While the investigators had few clues to work with, they eventually began receiving tips from the public. The tips began pouring in after the murder of Christine Gailbreath and every available detective was used to investigate them. It was at this point that the investigators would make another decision that would lead to severe criticism of the department and charges of racism.

The investigators had little information about the suspect. Literally all that was known about the suspect was the fact he was a black male, 5'7” and he had a muscular build. Obviously there were many men in Ann Arbor that fit this very general description. After the murder of Christine Gailbreath, investigators received hundreds of tips from ex-wives and girlfriends describing their former husbands and boyfriends that fit this description and they felt could be a suspect in the crimes.

There was tremendous pressure to solve the crime before another female was victimized. As the investigators had many suspects to eliminate, a decision was made to ask for each suspect to submit a blood sample, so it could be matched against the suspect's DNA, which had been collected from the rapes. This was done voluntarily and was done so each potential suspect could be eliminated from suspicion and done so extremely quickly. Initially there was no outcry as the investigators had numerous potential suspects submit to blood withdrawals so their DNA could be tested against the suspects. Three months after the murder of Gailbreath, investigators cleared 130 men, 54 of which submitted to blood withdrawals.

As the investigation continued, women's groups continued to criticize the police department for not releasing the fact that a serial rapist had been stalking women in the city. Black males began protesting that they felt the police department was trying to intimidate them by forcing them to submit to the blood tests and “randomly” stopping them on the street, forcing them to submit to the blood withdrawal (a charge which was utterly false). Captain Richard Degrand stated of the suspects, “If they can't be cleared through an alibi, they are offered a consent form and asked to give a blood sample. I have not heard of any complaints from people who have consented to give blood. We have only gotten search warrants in three or four cases.”

Mayor Ingrid Sheldon summed it up stating, “The police are damned if they do and damned if they don't. We all have some responsibility to recognize the pressure the police, as well as the black males of the community are under.”

While the suspect was extremely elusive, he was nearly captured eight months before the murder of Christine Gailbreath. During the early morning hours of September 2, 1993, a female was attacked as she walked along Liberty Street. She was able to fight off her attacker, who ran from the scene.

Officers arrived within minutes and a track was started using the department's tracking dog, Homer. Homer picked up the suspect's scent and followed it to a home on Charlton. The officers made contact with Ervin Mitchell, who was staying with a female at the residence. She was interviewed by the officers and gave Mitchell the alibi that he needed. Mitchell would later be arrested and convicted for the murder of Christine Gailbreath.

Despite the citywide warnings about the serial rapist and a multi-jurisdictional task force investigating the crimes, he would strike again on October 17, 1994, just after 9:00p.m. A lone female was walking along a narrow path which passes along Community High School and was brutally struck in the head. She had just picked up a carry-out order from a restaurant and was walking back to her apartment. Once knocked unconscious, the suspect still continued to beat the victim in the face. The suspect then raped the victim, with no witnesses hearing or seeing anything.

Again investigators were left with nearly no evidence to work with as the victim was unconscious after the blow to her head. The same, all too familiar description was supplied to the investigators, who relayed this information to a very frustrated public. There was little doubt the same suspect was involved in this latest attack. “We strongly suspect it's the same suspect due to the nature of the assault,” stated Lt. John Atkinson. “He hit her over the head with his fist and he hit her more than once. She was badly beaten.” Tips continued to pour in and many more men submitted to blood testing to eliminate them as potential suspects.

The break in the case would finally come from a very observant taxi cab driver. A female had fought off an attack and described the suspect's gloves to the officer. The driver read a newspaper account of the incident and observed Mitchell walking down the street the next day, wearing gloves that matched the description. He followed Mitchell while his dispatcher called the department. Responding officers arrested Mitchell, who was eventually found to be the rapist.

Mitchell's trial concluded in June of 1995 and he was convicted by a jury for the rape and murder of Christine Gailbreath and the rapes of three other women. Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison for the attacks. He eventually appealed his case, based in part on the length of the sentences for the crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and from 50 to 75 years in prison for the rape convictions. The Court of Appeals found that the sentences were not extreme and agreed with the sentencing court that the “brutality and the viciousness and terrors associated with these cases are beyond any contemplated by the guidelines. The defendant terrorized an entire community for more than two years. His rape victim may never fully recover from these appalling crimes. The defendant's inhumane conduct clearly mandates severe punishment.”

Observant Off-Duty Lt.

Many people believe that police officers are never really “off” duty. In fact, many officers have made excellent arrests or have been key witnesses in incidents occurring while they were off-duty. One such incident occurred on a December morning during 1994 when Lt. David Lovell was walking downtown. Lt. Lovell was walking near S. Main Street, when he observed a man running towards a parked car. The man opened the passenger door and entered. While this may not be unusual, what the man did next was, or at least it was to this off-duty officer.

As the car pulled from the parking lot, the passenger lowered the back seat, hiding himself from view. Lt. Lovell immediately became suspicious of this person and wrote down the license plate. Lt. Lovell had no information that the person was involved in any crime at all. He would later learn that the Comerica Bank at the corner of Main and Huron Streets had just been robbed.

Armed with the license plate, detectives found the person the car was registered to, which turned out to be the bank robber's girlfriend. They were able to gather enough evidence to obtain a warrant for the suspect's arrest and he was apprehended. He was suspected in one other bank robbery in Ann Arbor and 14 others in neighboring counties.

Rapists Arrested

While rape is a very brutal and demeaning crime, it always seems worse when the victim is young. Such was the case of a northside abduction and rape, where the suspect was arrested after a case of good police work.

The victim in this case was a 13-year old who was riding her bike in her neighborhood in broad daylight on April 13, 1998. While doing so, she was approached by a lone male in a pickup, who abducted her and threw her bike in the back of his truck.

The teen's face was covered with a pillowcase and she was driven to a garage nearby, where she was raped. The suspect then placed her back in the truck, took her back to her neighborhood and set her free. The victim was able to obtain a description of the suspect and his vehicle, which was broadcast to area officers.

Officer Andy Zazula responded and began driving throughout the neighborhood, looking for the suspect. He observed the suspect's truck about a mile away from the abduction site, parked with a flat tire. At first he did not think it was the vehicle involved, but inspected the truck and found items inside, which the victim had described to the officers. He then observed the suspect nearby and placed him under arrest. The suspect confessed to the kidnapping and rape and was sentenced to life in prison.

When sentencing him, Judge Donald Shelton stated, “This is a horrible crime. It violates our basic sense of security. The random nature of what you did terrifies everybody. I do not believe it was in any sense a lustful act. I do believe it was the act of a sociopathic young man.”

Another excellent piece of police work ended with the arrest of a local man for a rape which occurred on June 19, 1998. This incident was also frightening as the suspect entered the home of a westside woman as she was sleeping, during the early morning hours.

The suspect entered the home and raped the woman, who was never able to get a look at her attacker. A DNA test was conducted as a sample of the suspects semen was found. Unfortunately there were no suspects in the case initially.

Investigators could find no forced entry to the home and the victim relayed that she had recently hired a contractor to do repairs to it. Three men were given a key to the residence and these three men were interviewed. A blood sample was obtained from two of them and the samples were sent to the crime lab to see if they matched the sample taken from the victim.

It took two months for the tests to come back and the two contractors went about their business, not knowing if they were to be charged in the rape or not. In early October, investigators received the results back from the lab finding the match they were looking for.

Andrew Magee's DNA was found to match the sample taken from the victim and a warrant was obtained for his arrest. When the detectives went looking for Magee, they ironically found him working on a house directly across from the victim's. He was arrested and charged with the rape.

At Magee's sentencing hearing he boldly asked the judge for a deferred sentence, saying he was an alcoholic and physically small, which would put him at risk in prison. He also complained that his name had been “dragged through the newspapers.” He felt it was “best for him to enter an alcohol treatment center with no prison time.”

Judge David Swartz did not see it this way stating, “I find it curious that you suggest you be sentenced as a drug dealer or other person guilty of substance abuse, when in fact this was anything but a substance abuse case. This was a brutal crime that obviously changed this woman's life. I also find it curious that I didn't hear one word of remorse, one word you were sorry.”

With that the judge sentenced Magee to 15-40 years in prison.

Personal Protection Order

A local Ann Arbor protestor, and frequent speaker at city council meetings, would disarm Officer Rick Cornell in May of 1998. How she did so was highly unusual however.

Officer Rick Cornell had many contacts with the protestor who obviously did not hold him in high regard. The protestor decided to take action and obtained a “Personal Protection Order Against Stalking (Non Domestic)” against him. This was served through the mail and Officer Cornell arrived at work to find that Judge Richard Halloran, of the Wayne County Circuit Court, had approved this order.

In the order, she alleged that she had filed numerous complaints with the Ann Arbor Police Department as “Mr. Cornell” had been stalking her for over a year. She alleged she could get no satisfaction from the police department and the respondent (Officer Cornell) was observed by two citizens peeping into her windows. She alleged that Cornell had harassed her on numerous occasions, made racial slurs against her and confronted her without cause. The order stated Cornell would drive his motorcycle or car around Ann Arbor to stalk her and that “he has conspired with cohorts to bring physical and emotional harm to her.” She further stated the respondent had an “obsession” with her and is “mentally imbalanced.”

Some of the restrictions in the order were that “Mr. Cornell” could not:

  1. Carry a weapon.
  2. Approach or confront her.
  3. Appear at her workplace.

Now since the judge ordered “Mr. Cornell” not to carry a weapon, he was told by Sgt. Szynwelski not to go on patrol and to work in the police station for the day, away from the public.

The problem with the order was that the protestor left out some very pertinent facts in her application for it. She neglected to tell Judge Halloran that “Mr. Cornell” was an officer with the Ann Arbor Police Department and that his contacts with her were all professional in nature. Sgt. Szynwelski spent the day trying to clear the matter up with the judge, as the order was legal and binding. He was told to have Officer Cornell come to the Detroit Court to clear the matter up.

Officer Cornell, Assistant City Attorney Bob West and I went to Detroit the next day. We thought that we would be taken into the judge's chambers and an apology would be given to Officer Cornell for his inconvenience. When we arrived however, we were told to go into the packed courtroom where the judge was hearing divorce decrees. We found that we were on the docket and had to wait for our case to be called. When it was, ACA West told the judge of the circumstance and the order was dismissed by the judge without comment.

The whole situation was actually very interesting. This new law enabled a citizen to walk into court, call an officer mentally imbalanced, neglect to tell the judge he was an officer and obtain an order prohibiting him from carrying a weapon. The court is under no obligation to do any investigation, to ascertain if the petitioner is truthful.

The Alligator Pit Bull

On September 23, 1998, Sgt. Greg O'Dell and Officer Wilma Purcell were dispatched to Champagne Street in reference to two dogs fighting. When they arrived they found it was not quite two dogs fighting, but a Pit Bull carrying around a 115 pound Bernese Mountain Dog, named Elliott, by the throat. Elliott was being walked by Beverly Richards, a professional dog walker. Richards stated, “I have never seen anything like this. I have been walking this dog on a daily basis and we go past a yard where there are two pit bulls. They usually act a little crazy when we go past, but this time I saw the dog leap one fence, jump over another and grab Elliott by the throat.”

There were workman in the area and they ran over to help. “They started hitting him with their tools,” Richards said. “There was a hatchet, a hammer and a rake and the dog just would not let go. A man driving by stopped and sprayed the pit bull with mace, but it did not do any good.

“Meanwhile, I'm still hanging onto Elliott's leash and trying to pull him away, but the pit bull won't let go and is dragging him around. I'm covered with blood, scared to death and feeling helpless because nothing we could do would get that pit bull to release poor Elliott.”

Sgt. O'Dell did have an idea to release poor Elliott from the pit bull's mouth. First, Sgt. O'Dell and Officer Purcell emptied their mace into the pit bull's eyes. Elliott still remained in the pit bull's mouth like a rag doll and they thought he was dead. The officers stepped up the force and used their nightsticks to club the pit bull, still with no results.

“Nothing we did seemed to faze that dog,” Sgt. Odell said. “It had the other dog by the throat and was tearing into it like an alligator. It was horrible and I've never seen anything like that.”

The force continued and Sgt. O' Dell retrieved the dog noose from the command car. He attempted to put it around the pit bull head's but, “the dog kept batting it away with its paw. It was a dangerous situation,” said O' Dell. “We had run out of options. We got people out of the area and I drew my gun and fired for the first time in 19 years as a police officer.”

The pit bull was finally convinced to release Elliott, the Burnese Mountain Dog, after being struck in the heart by the bullet fired by Sgt. O' Dell. The pit bull staggered around for a few seconds, then fell to the ground and died.

The Death of Courtney Cantor

Parents sending their children to college do not expect the tragic news that came upon the Cantor family on October 16, 1998. Courtney Cantor was a freshman at the University of Michigan and her future looked bright and promising. A freak accident would take her life and the university came under scrutiny for the role alcohol plays in the life of its students.

On October 15, Cantor went out with her friends to a fraternity party. At this party new pledges were carried into the basement and sprayed with champagne. Also in the basement was a keg of beer.

Cantor danced with a member of the fraternity and eventually moved from the basement to the second floor. Throughout the evening Cantor was seen drinking beer and champagne and commented to a friend that she was drunk.

Cantor was 19, two years below the legal limit to drink alcohol. Being underage does not stop most underage college students from drinking however.

At 2:15 a.m., Cantor went into a bathroom where she vomited. She left the bathroom and was leaning against a wall where several people asked her if she was o.k. and she stated she was. Cantor left the party with her friend, calling a Blue Cab to take her to her dorm room at Mary Markley Hall.

Several people saw her at the dorm and said she appeared to be fine, although slightly intoxicated. She stopped by a male friend's room, where she left a note on the outside of the door stating, “Matt, I came by to say hi. Courtney.”

She then returned to her sixth floor dorm room and woke up her roommate who was sleeping in their loft. Her roommate later told detectives from the University of Michigan Public Safety Department that Cantor was clumsy as she climbed the ladder to the loft knocking over some flowers sitting on a windowsill. The roommate went back to sleep and did not have any other contact with Cantor. What happened next will always remain a mystery.

At 5:00 a.m., a worker at the university found Cantor's lifeless body, dressed in her green night shirt and shorts, lying face down on the concrete sidewalk below her dorm window. Cantor had inexplicably fell from her dorm window to her death below.

An investigation into her death quickly ensued as the community was shocked by the circumstances. As there were no witnesses to the fall, investigators could only speculate as to what had caused her to fall from the small window. The window itself measured only 30″x36″, but Cantor had a very small frame which enabled her to fit through it.

Detectives interviewed Cantor's roommate and found that she had no involvement at all and in fact had not even heard anything suspicious. Theories abounded such as that Cantor was pushed, committed suicide or was vomiting out the window when she fell. Detectives examined these theories in detail and could find no evidence whatsoever to suggest they were true.

The investigation then shifted to Cantor's loft and the position of the ladder near the window. In the end it was believed that Cantor somehow accidentally fell through the window as she was climbing the ladder to get into bed or fell from the loft itself. The accident was unbelievably tragic and a fluke one.

During the investigation it was found that Cantor had been illegally supplied alcohol at the party and the autopsy results revealed that her blood alcohol level was .059%. It also found that she had traces of the illegal drug GHB in her system. The body itself produces small amounts of GHB and it could not be determined if she voluntarily ingested the drug, if someone placed it in her drink, or if the trace amount was produced by her body. GHB is commonly referred to as the date rape drug as numerous females have been raped after the drug has been slipped into their drinks. This drug causes the victim to pass out, making them very vulnerable to their attackers.

As the investigators found that the drinking had occurred at the fraternity, it was quickly disbanded by the university. Numerous members of the fraternity were charged with misdemeanor alcohol violations for their role in hosting the party. The lengthy investigation itself concluded that Cantor's death was accidental.

Murder Suspect Flees Country

Early Sunday morning on November 16, 1998, two brothers, Roberto and Luis Rueda, paid a visit to the apartment of Milton Castillio, a recent immigrant to the country from Guatemala. The two were allowed into the apartment by Castillio, an acquaintance of the brothers. The three had been reported to have been involved in an argument 10 days prior to this November day.

At the end of the visit, the two Rueda brothers would be found dead, both of gunshot wounds and Castillio nowhere to be found. As there were no witnesses to the crime, investigators had to surmise what had occurred.

One theory was that the brothers went to Castillio's apartment to confront him on the earlier incident and ended up being murdered. Another was that Castillio acted in self-defense as the brothers confronted him.

Only Castillio could provide the answers that investigators were looking for. A nationwide alert was given out for Castillio's arrest in the crime and the focus moved to the east coast where he had family. This hunch turned out correct as Castillio's vehicle was found outside of Baltimore. Police there had just missed arresting Castillio, who had fled just prior to their arrival. Castillio's next move was unknown and investigators were left with little clues as to where he would go.

The prosecutor's office issued a warrant for Castillio's arrest for the murders of the Rueda brothers. The F.B.I. was asked to seek a federal fugitive warrant for Castillio's arrest as it was apparent he had fled the state.

On February 17, 1999, the hunt for Castillio took an unexpected turn. After the killings of the Rueda brothers, Castillio fled to his homeland, Guatemala. Investigators found Castillio in a Guatemalan prison, where he had been arrested for a murder which he allegedly committed in October of 1992. It appears that Castillio was on the run from the murder charge in Guatemala, when he came to America. He would later flee America under the same circumstances.

While sharing an extradition treaty with the United States, the Guatemalan authorities retained custody of Castillio, to face murder charges in that country.

Deer Crashes into YMCA

The local Ann Arbor YMCA is a seven story building located downtown on Fifth Avenue, far from any local deer population. On November 26, 1998, a deer oblivious to the sights and sounds of downtown wandered up to the door of the YMCA, where one patron thought it was a dog at first. Possibly seeing its reflection in the glass door of the building, the deer stood on its hind legs and smashed out the window next to the entrance.

The deer made its entrance into the building with seven bewildered patrons in the lobby watching. The deer then pushed open a set of doors leading to the lot next to the library and was last seen running up S. Division, apparently uninjured.

Longtime Officers Retire

Many officers retired during this decade that had contributed greatly to the Ann Arbor Police Department. Detective Mary Smith began her employment with the department in 1961 and retired in 1997, ending a very distinguished career. When Detective Smith started with the department, women were not allowed to go out on road patrol. Mary started her long career in the Youth Bureau, where she served for many years.

Detective Smith served her entire 36 year career in the Detective Division, where she was in charge of thousands of cases. Mary was very well-respected for her role within the police department and known for her love of Michigan State athletics.

Deputy Chief Dave Miller began his career with the department in 1969 and worked through the ranks to Deputy Chief of the Patrol Division. Chief Miller retired in 1998 and shortly after his retirement was honored as the ‘Officer of the Year’ by the Ann Arbor Optimists.

When he was a Lieutenant, Miller was placed in charge of the department's Professional Standards Section, which investigated citizens complaints against officers. While internal investigations are always sensitive, Miller treated the citizens and officers fairly and rarely did either have a complaint once his investigation was completed.

While Sgt. Red Howard was the department's prototypical beat cop in the early part of the century, Officer Rick Cornell filled this role in the last part of it. He retired from the department in 1998 after serving the department for almost 30 years. While Red walked the beat, Officer Cornell rode his Harley Davidson motorcycle on it. Officer Cornell knew the concerns of the business owners downtown, but was really known for his work with the street people of Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor has many street people whose choices in life put them there. Most have drug or alcohol problems and find that living on the streets suits them best. These folks have a great knowledge of what is going on and who is doing what and would often pass this information on to Officer Cornell. The reason why they did so is the respect he gave them, when so many people turned the other way.

Sgt. Don Terry was another longtime member of the department who retired 1999 after 30 years of service. Sgt. Terry was in charge of the department's budget which swelled to 13 million dollars a year during his tenure as budget director.

With the retirement of Sgt. Terry, the last of the officers hired during the 1960's were gone from the department.

Sgt. Dennis Betz retired from the department in January of 1999 after serving over 26 years. Sgt. Betz worked in the Detective Division's Checks and Fraud unit but was best known for work on U of M Football Saturdays.

Sgt. Betz directed traffic at the busy intersection of Main and Stadium during Michigan home football games. He worked this corner for 15 consecutive years, never missing a game. After Sgt. Betz's last football game a special salute was made to him on Michigan Stadium's jumbotron. Clips of Sgt. Betz directing traffic were shown on the screen and the university thanked him for his service.

Murder, Suicide

Many murders that occur are crimes of passion and the murder of Christopher Groesbeck on March 5, 1999, was no different. Groesbeck was murdered by his ex-girlfriend Natasha Qureshi in his apartment at 727 E. Kingsley. Qureshi then committed suicide after the murder.

There were no warning signs to suggest that such a crime was forthcoming. Groesbeck had graduated from the University of Michigan in 1998 while Qureshi was a senior. The two had met at the university and had been seeing each other for a little over a year before breaking up.

Groesbeck had failed to show up for work at the Campus Inn and his supervisor called his mother. His mother called friends of Groesbeck's and asked them to check on him. They did so and discovered the bodies. It was found that Groesbeck had been shot to death and Qureshi then turned the gun on herself and committed suicide.

Chief Carl Ent Resigns

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Chief Carl Ent was appointed in 1995 to replace Chief Douglas Smith, who left to become the Chief of Police in Tucson, Arizona. Chief Ent had been police chief in Muncie, Indiana, where he had worked through the ranks from officer to chief.

Chief Ent was the third chief in a row to be hired from outside of the Ann Arbor Police Department. Chief Ent soon endeared himself to the community with an emphasis on community policing.

While popular in the community, he lacked this same support within the police department. Starting in 1998, three lawsuits were filed by officers in the department against Chief Ent. These lawsuits alleged that three employees were not promoted due to alleged discrimination of some kind.

Eventually these lawsuits were settled out of court and all three officers were promoted and received a monetary award. After the last lawsuit was settled in December of 1999, Chief Ent resigned from the police department, presumably under pressure from city administration. Chief Ent was given a severance package from the city and his 5-year tenure as chief of police ended.

Retired Deputy Chief Walter Lunsford was appointed as acting chief while the city conducted a nationwide search for the new chief.

Man Robs Bank, Twice

In January of early 1999, an Ann Arbor man walked into the Standard Federal Bank on Jackson Ave. and robbed it. The suspect fled and was not apprehended. The next day, in an apparent fit of guilt, the suspect drove to the police department and confessed to the crime. The suspect was eventually released on bail and later pled guilty to the crime.

On March 11, 1999, the suspect was to be sentenced for the bank robbery in a plea agreement with the prosecutor's office, as they had agreed to charge him with unarmed robbery.

Instead of reporting to the circuit court for his sentencing, the suspect went to the same Standard Federal Bank Branch and robbed it again. The suspect handed the teller a note which stated, “Get the money or I'll shoot you.”

The teller gave the suspect all of the money she had in her cash drawer and the suspect then fled the bank. Bank officials immediately called police and a description was given to the patrol officers. The teller was able to supply a detailed description of the suspect as she was the same teller that was robbed by the suspect in the January robbery!

Officer Bruce Rosander responded to the area and apprehended the suspect who had fled to a nearby mall. All of the money was recovered and the suspect was ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination to see if he was fit to stand trial for the crimes.

Murder on E. University

In a college town, parties and drinking are a frequent occurrence. Many fights erupt at these parties but seldom do they lead to murder. Unfortunately this was the case on June 5, 1999, when Nicholas Seitz was shot to death by Abdul Elkhoja.

Neither Seitz or Elkhoja were enrolled at the University of Michigan, but many people come to Ann Arbor to meet friends that go to the university and this was the case with Seitz. The party itself was in the 900 block of E. University and was not particularly unruly as college parties go. A friend of Seitz's became involved in an argument with some of the partygoers, who had made a catcall to a female walking down the street. He went to the apartment where Seitz and a number of other men were and went back to the party, evidently to confront the group. The two groups then became involved in name calling and pushing and shoving, certainly nothing which would lead anyone to think gunplay would follow.

For reasons known only to Elkhoja, he pulled out a handgun and fired a “warning shot” into the air. Seitz approached Elkhoja and evidently attempted to calm him down. According to witnesses, Elkhoja turned on Seitz and shot him once in the chest. Seitz fell to the ground and died on the sidewalk.

Seitz had not been involved in the fight and it appeared he was simply trying to act as a peacemaker when he was shot by Elkhoja. Elkhoja fled the scene before the arrival of patrol officers and was arrested later that day by Ann Arbor Detectives. The murder weapon has never been recovered.

Detectives were able to determine that Elkhoja was the prime suspect in the case based upon statements obtained at the scene. Officers went to his residence and placed him under arrest. Searching the residence they found credit cards that had been stolen from the house across the street from where the party was being held. Allegedly Elkhoja stole these before going to the party.

At Elkhoja's preliminary exam, a witness testified he was at the party with Elkhoja and that Seitz was “coming after” Elkhoja, who fired the warning shot in the air. According to the witness, Seitz did not heed this warning shot and continued to come at Elkhoja. Elkhoja lowered the gun as Seitz proceeded toward Elkhoja and the witness then observed the flash of the gun. He was the only witness called by the defense. After the testimony Elkhoja was bound over to circuit court to stand trial for murder.

Engineer Murdered

Vijay Bulla was an engineer that lived in a quiet apartment complex on the westside of Ann Arbor. On October 13, 1999, he left his job at Michigan Automotive Compressor in Jackson and traveled to his residence. Investigators would later find out that shortly after his arrival, a former suitor of his wife's sister, Satish Mariswamy, came to Bulla's apartment to confront him about comments Bulla made about him. He would leave the apartment after murdering Bulla.

Bulla's wife came home from work and found her husband alone, lying in a pool of blood, obviously deceased. When officers arrived they found the deceased Bulla in the kitchen, stabbed to death, his throat slit.

Initially officers had no suspects and there were no witnesses. Speaking with neighbors, no one heard anything suspicious, even though there was evidence of a struggle. Detectives began interviewing Bulla's wife and found that Mariswamy had recently been living at their apartment. He was staying with them until it was determined if Mariswamy was worthy to marry her sister. All involved were from India and Mariswamy wanted to enter into an arranged marriage with the younger sister of Bulla's wife.

Evidently the family of Bulla's wife wanted him to determine if Mariswamy was a worthy candidate for their daughter. After Bulla spoke with his wife's family, they would not let Mariswamy marry their daughter.

On the day of the murder, the two argued and a fight ensued. The fight escalated and Mariswamy slit Bulla's throat. Mariswamy then tried to make the death look like a robbery gone bad. The apartment was ransacked and a number of items were taken from the apartment.

Within two short days, the suspect was brought into the police station by members of the Indian community. During the interview, Mariswamy admitted to the killing but said it was an accident. At his arraignment a sobbing Mariswamy told the judge, “I never intended to do it. It was an accident.”

Detective David Burke testified that Mariswamy first grabbed a computer cord and began choking Bulla with it. When he got tired he then picked up a wrench and began striking Bulla with it. Bulla collapsed in the kitchen as Mariswamy continued to choke him. He then picked up a kitchen knife and delivered the fatal wound to the defenseless Bulla.

Mariswamy is currently in prison for the death of Vijay Bulla.

The Passing of Gaye Limon

While it was my intention to only write about events that occurred from the beginning of the police department until the end of 1999, Gaye Limon's death made me change this thought. Gaye died on June 12, 2000, after fighting a courageous battle with cancer. Gaye started with the police department in 1996 as a civilian employee. Gaye was an extremely dedicated employee who continued to come to work as she battled the cancer. Gaye's three year battle with cancer taught many other people how to handle adversity. Instead of complaining about her situation, Gaye continued with her life, struggling through the pain while continuing to come to work, even on her worst days. Gaye was so proud of her association with the police department that before she died, she asked permission to be buried in her civilian police employee uniform. Gaye loved the many officers but was especially fond of Althea Duede, Amy Ellinger, Phil Scheel, Richard Blake and Greg O'Dell. Gaye was a marvelous artist and is missed by her family at the Ann Arbor Police Department.