LANSING, Mich., Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorney General Mike Cox today announced the arrest of five additional suspects on first degree murder charges in the 1979 death of Hope College student Janet Chandler. These new cases join the case previously filed against Three Oaks, Michigan, resident Robert Michael Lynch, 66, who is currently awaiting trial for Chandler's murder.
The new charges, filed jointly by Cox and Ottawa County Prosecutor Ron Frantz, stem largely as a result of evidence uncovered by a cold case investigative team comprised of both Michigan State Police and Holland Police detectives. The following individuals were charged with first degree murder and, if convicted, face mandatory sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole:
* 59-year-old James Cleophas Nelson, a.k.a. "Bubba," of Rand, West Virginia. * 54-year-old Arthur Carlton Paiva, a.k.a. "Carl," of Muskegon, Michigan. * 48-year-old Laurie Ann Swank of Nescopek, Pennsylvania. * 47-year-old Freddie Bass Parker of Powelton, West Virginia. * 55-year-old Anthony Eugene Williams of McFarland, Wisconsin.
"The charges filed today against these five defendants demonstrate the commitment of Michigan law enforcement to doggedly follow a trail of evidence until every last stone has been overturned," Cox said. "Prosecutor Frantz and I applaud the hard work of both the Michigan State Police and the Holland Police Department. It has always been the mission of all parties involved in this investigation to ensure that the family of Janet Chandler sees justice. That day is now coming closer."
The 23-year-old Chandler disappeared while working the night shift at the desk of the Blue Mill Inn in Holland on January 31, 1979. She was discovered missing when Holland Police responded to a robbery call from the motel. A snowplow driver discovered Chandler's body nearly 24 hours later adjacent to a turn-around on I-196.
It is alleged that at the time of Chandler's murder, defendants Nelson, Paiva, Parker, and Williams were employed as security guards on assignment at a local labor strike. Nelson, Parker and Williams were temporarily residing at the Blue Mill Inn, while Paiva lived in a corporate guest house near the site of the strike. Swank, the manager of the Blue Mill Inn, was Chandler's roommate at the time of the murder.
Ottawa County Prosecutor Ron Frantz said, "Through the relentless efforts of the Cold Case Team, we finally have a complete picture of the involvement of the latest suspects charged in the murder of Janet Chandler. Despite the passage of over 27 years the Chandler family is now close to seeing justice done."
Holland Police Chief John Kruithoff stated, "The Holland Police Department is thrilled that a resolution to the Chandler case is near. The hard work of all parties involved shows that although justice may be delayed, it will not be denied."
"We have committed to sticking with this case until all individuals involved have been brought to justice, and we have met that promise," stated Col. Peter C. Munoz, Director of the Michigan State Police. "Thanks to the tenacity of the investigators, prosecutors and the Michigan Attorney General's Office, this case is now entering the final chapter in the long story of justice for Janet Chandler."
The Janet Chandler case is being handled by the Attorney General's Office of Special Investigations, formed by Cox in 2003 to investigate and prosecute both public corruption and cold case homicides. The unit is responsible for conducting more than 50 public corruption investigations and for the prosecutions and convictions of serial killers Coral Watts and John Rodney McRae.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Source: Michigan Attorney General