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Homicide

Irredeemable: Coming clean

Aug 1, 2018
Tholen family
Courtesy of the Tholen family

(Editor's note: We recommend you listen to the story before reading.)

It was December when Rick Tholen was killed. He was working at M&J Grocery in Grand Rapids.

He’d just graduated college and was in his first year of teaching high school English. And he’d decided to take some shifts over Christmas break for extra cash. He was getting married soon.

It was around 10 p.m. The store was empty except for Rick. That’s when Chester Patterson and his co-defendant arrived; Chester had a gun.

“It was a .22 caliber,” says Chester.

Police line - Do Not Cross
Wikimedia Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are some 10,000 unsolved homicides in Michigan since 1980.

But many counties lack the money and manpower to devote to cold cases.

That’s why the Prosecutors Association of Michigan is pulling together a new team of investigators, police, and prosecutors – some of them retired – to serve as a cold case advisory board.

“They may see things from a different perspective, and may offer insight or advice that someone who's very, very close to the case, cannot see,” says Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka.

Michigan Dept of Corrections

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments this week in a case where a procedural mistake could get a convicted killer a new trial.

At his sentencing, a judge called Brandon Cain the “mastermind” behind the torture and murder of two Hamtramck women in 2012. 

Michigan Department of Corrections

Jeff Titus is currently serving two life sentences for a double homicide in 1990.

Two men believe Titus’ alibi that he was hunting in a different part of the state at the time the shootings took place.     The two men are the original detectives who investigated the crime.

On November 17th, 1990, Doug Estes and Jim Bennett were hunting in the Fulton State Gaming Area.  Both were shot in the back at close range.  

The shooting occurred near the property of Jeff Edward Titus.  

African-Americans in Michigan are murdered at one of the highest rates in the nation. That's according to a study from the Violence Policy Center.

The Center says 31 of every 100,000 black Michiganders was a homicide victim in 2011. That's twice the national rate for blacks and seven times the rate for Americans overall.

Josh Sugarmann is the Center's executive director. He says this is part of a public health crisis in America.

Yumi Kimura / Wikimedia Commons

Flint has seen a drop of more than 20 percent in the number of murders this year compared to last year's all-time high of 67.

Unless there is a new murder on New Year's Eve, Flint will close 2013 with 52 homicides. That is the lowest number since 2009.

James Tolbert is Flint's chief of police. He attributed the decrease to increased patrolling, use of data to target hot spots of criminal activity, and increased arrests of those with outstanding warrants.